A politician is actually exactly the same as a car dealer. At least that’s what sixteen-year-old Dion thinks in puberty swap† “Dick like Brugman and a little bit of bullshit.” The teenager from Brabant trades in second-hand cars himself. the beloved puberty swap (KRO-NCRV) has been around since 2008 and finally returned to television on Tuesday after an absence of four years. In the reboot the age has been raised to around seventeen years. Other than that, the format is the same. Two teenagers swap lives for a few days: they switch families, schools, friends and hobbies. For the optimal fish-from-the-bowl effect, the program casts two people who are optimally opposite to each other.
In the first episode you immediately see the repercussions of the increased age: these are no longer children, but boys who are already fully engaged in their career. Joep is in the youth section of the VVD in The Hague, and wants to become prime minister. Dion from Waalre in Brabant is therefore in the cars. Apart from the differences between city and country, and class and education differences between the boys, Dion comes from a large family, while Joep lives alone with his father.
A fixed twisting point in puberty swap is the food. Joep is a vegetarian and deals with the climate crisis. (A VVD member who cares about the climate – there is hope.) Now he is baking frikadellen in Brabant. Dion has never thought about politics before, but now he is making a fiery speech against mortgage interest deductions for a group of liberal teenagers. The differences are big, but the boys are socially skilled, and they like it quite a bit. They think they look alike (snug-mouthed, ambitious) and they discover that there are multiple ways to achieve your ambitions.
Hmm, so no conflict. Is that exciting enough? New presenter Jan Kooijman said Monday in talk show On 1 (NPO1) that they wanted older adolescents because they can reflect better. He wanted to get rid of the clashes that were central in previous seasons, it had to be about fraternization.
Collision is part of it
Creating more understanding for other people’s culture and way of life has always been the aim of the program. But then those cultures must first clash. First we have to get past discomfort and pain, otherwise it is not exciting. If everyone thinks everything is “quite interesting and fun”, you don’t have good TV.
The entire new season can already be viewed on streaming service NPO Plus, so I went to the next episode to see if puberty swap has indeed become conflict-averse.
Musical lover Kyra from Liempde in Brabant exchanges with Syrian refugee Lojain from Gouda. Lojain behaves mature and lenient. She has something to gain from this: she will soon be able to participate in society. Kyra, on the other hand, finds it very difficult to spend a few days with ‘another culture’ and had ‘a pretty negative image of refugees’ beforehand. That difference in flexibility is already painful. Kyra is a hundred kilometers from home, Lojain four thousand.
Things go wrong at the second Syrian meal, and it turns out that puberty swap luckily it can still be nice and cringe-inducing. Kyra comes from a potato-vegetable-meat family and she doesn’t like ‘exotic food’. She bursts into tears over the plate of rice with chicken. Embarrassing! She saves herself by saying that she misses her parents so much. This expression of homesickness turns out to be a direct hit, because the Syrian family has also been separated from each other for a long time. The small children and the mother promptly begin to cry with Kyra. The father cheerfully says: “Kyra, you opened the tap!”
This column will be written by various authors until April 25.