Jesus Job-Swap, the latest reality TV show from the makers of Wife Swap, Trading Places and Let’s Make a Koala the Mayor of Innsbruck for a Week and See What Happens, debuted last night on DBC. It takes a well-worn premise – two people switch jobs for a while - and stitches a little new life into it: one of the people swapping jobs is Jesus Christ, son of God and major player on the religious scene.
Saturday’s episode had Jesus swapping roles with Delores, owner of a small catering firm in California. As with most shows of this ilk, both participants were built up for a fall from the beginning, with the producers showing each of them oozing bravado and confidence at the task ahead. Jesus, for example, is unfazed by the prospect of having to cater a wedding reception for five hundred people the following week. “Five hundred people?” he asks, unimpressed. “I’ve had to feed ten times that before. No worries,” he laughs.
Delores was equally ebullient from the onset, quoting her “excellent man-management skills” as reasons why she’s more than qualified for the role of Son of God. She does warn, however, that while God may be the all-knowing, all-seeing creator of the universe, “He’s going to have to learn that I don’t take crap from anyone.”
But, as is always the case with these shows, neither Jesus nor Delores has an easy ride. In the course of the hour-long programme, the American woman learns that being figurehead for a belief system is no mean feat. Conversely, Jesus gets to know that the catering business isn’t a breeze, even for a man worshipped by millions of devotees.
It’s during these scenes that the best moments in Jesus Job-Swap arise. When the irate newlyweds confront the Son of God over his deviation from the agreed menu at their reception, it’s car-crash television; I couldn’t look away. As the bride violently asked why the steak tartare and scalloped potatoes had been replaced by a simple bread-and-fish meal, I thought for all the world that she was going to punch the earthly incarnation of the Creator. Luckily, fate intervened and an earthquake interrupted the fight.
Delores didn’t have it any easier, either. All the way through the episode she has to repeatedly tell her new boss that “you can treat your own son like that, Mister, but you can’t treat me like that!” She also becomes extremely fatigued at the task of making her face miraculously appear in food products, and in doing so, realises that being the Son of God isn’t all lambs and magic wine tricks. “There’s some self-sacrifice in this job, you know,” she tells the camera, wearily.
And ultimately, as with most shows of this genre, both participants learn many things about their switchee and about themselves, which in turn gives the viewer a sense of accomplishment and closure. Both Jesus and Delores realise things that we, the external viewers, could already tell. Delores becomes nicer to her staff and doesn’t insist on working them as hard, while Jesus resolves to stand up for himself more, especially when it comes to his Dad.
Jesus Job-Swap is another great reality TV show that promises to be essential viewing throughout. I haven’t enjoyed the company of Jesus this much since the time I sat on his lap in a shopping mall at Christmastime, all those years ago. And next week’s episode, in which Christ swaps roles with a Muslim cleric, promises to be even more volatile than this one!
Jesus Job-Swap is shown on DBC (Satellite Channel 148 between the Washroom Channel and the Bob Hope Underpants Auction Channel), Saturdays, 10:00pm, from now until Armageddon (six weeks tomorrow).