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The Swan (TV series)

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Country of origin
United States

No. of episodes

First episode date
7 April 2004

Nely Galán, Amanda Byram


Developed by

No. of seasons

Running time
45–50 minutes

Presented by
Amanda Byram

Program creator
Nely Galán

The Swan (TV series) Contestants were molded into one specific concept of physical beauty

Executive producer(s)
Arthur SmithNely Galán

The Biggest Loser (Australian TV series), How to Look Good Naked, Botched by Nature

The swan season 1

The Swan was a 2004 American reality television program broadcast on FOX in which women who were judged to be ugly were given "extreme makeovers" that included several forms of plastic surgery. The title of the series refers to the fairy tale The Ugly Duckling, in which a homely bird matures into a swan.


The Swan (TV series) Rachel Love-Fraser before (left picture) and after (right picture) winning the swan pageant

Each contestant was assigned a panel of specialists – a coach, therapist, trainer, cosmetic surgeons, and a dentist – who together designed a program of total transformation. The contestants' work ethic, growth, and achievement was monitored over the course of three months. Each week, two women were featured, and at the episode's conclusion, one went home while another was selected to move to compete in the Swan pageant at the end of the season for a chance to be deemed The Swan.

The Swan (TV series) before and after the swan tv show

The first two seasons both aired in 2004. A third season was tipped to happen, but the show was cancelled in early 2005 after ratings continued to drop.

The Swan (TV series) an Ugly Duckling to a Beautiful Swan (before and after)

The plastic surgeons on the team were chosen for their ability to perform often startling transformations. Drs. Terry Dubrow and Randal Haworth, both board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, were selected by the producers of the show to perform the multiple plastic surgical operations for each of the two aired seasons.

The Swan (TV series) an Ugly Duckling to a Beautiful Swan (before and after)

Season 1 (2004)

The Swan debuted on April 7, 2004.

Capt. DeLisa Stiles is crowned "The Swan" on the Fox reality series
     Through to the pageant     Wildcard     Contestant Tanya dropped out of the show (on her own accord) after being caught with a mirror (which is against the rules of appearing on the series), so Merline was automatically in the swan pageant.

Swan pageant

The Swan (TV series) pageant

At the show the judges would score in every category with the swan contestants competing, eventually being whittled down to three finalists. The judges at the show were:

  • Susie CastilloMiss USA 2003
  • Valerie Trott – model management executive
  • Judith Regan – publisher of several self-help books
  • Tara Kraft – beauty director of Star magazine
  • Mike Ruiz – Fashion photographer
  • The winner reived a modeling contract, and various premiums by corporate sponsors.

    Final competition scores

    After 9 episodes and 16 makeovers it was announced that Rachel Love-Fraser had won the swan pageant. Beth placed runner-up, with Cindy second runner-up.

    Season 2 (2004)

    Season two debuted on October 27, 2004. Kari and Gina. B from episode 4 were sisters.

         Through to the pageant     Wildcard

    Swan Pageant

    At the show the judges scored the swan contestants in several categories, whittling them down to three finalists. The judges at the show were:

  • Ken Baker – West Coast Executive Editor of US Weekly magazine
  • Krista Sides-Klayman – LA Models Management,
  • Carnie WilsonWilson Phillips singer, actor, author
  • Larry A. Thompson – Producer, Author
  • Dayanara TorresMiss Universe 1993
  • The winner was awarded a contract as a spokesperson, and various premiums by corporate sponsors.

    Final competition scores

    After 9 episodes and 16 makeovers it was announced that DeLisa Styles had won the swan pageant. Gina B. placed runner-up, with Erica second runner-up.


    Robert Bianco of USA Today called The Swan "hurtful and repellent even by reality's constantly plummeting standards". Journalist Jennifer Pozner, in her book Reality Bites Back, calls The Swan "the most sadistic reality series of the decade". Journalist Chris Hedges also criticized the show in his 2009 book Empire of Illusion, writing "The Swan's transparent message is that once these women have been surgically 'corrected' to resemble mainstream celebrity beauty as closely as possible, their problems will be solved". Feminist scholar Susan J. Douglas criticized the show in her book The Rise of Enlightened Sexism for its continuation of a negative female body image, claiming that "it made all too explicit the narrow physical standards to which women are expected to conform, the sad degree to which women internalize these standards, the lengths needed to get there, and the impossibility for most of us to meet the bar without, well, taking a box cutter to our faces and bodies".

    Author Alice Marwick believes that this program is an example of "body culture media", which she describes as "a genre of popular culture which positions work on the body as a morally correct solution to personal problems". Marwick also suggests that cosmetic reality television encourages viewers to frame their family, financial, or social problems in bodily terms, and portrays surgical procedures as an everyday and normal solution. The Swan draws from cultural discourses of plastic surgery and self-improvement culture to frame cosmetic surgery as "a morally appropriate means to achieving an authentic self". The Swan portrays cosmetic surgery as an empowered, feminist practice. However the tension between the empowerment, and feminism of cosmetic surgery, and a confining, compulsory model of what that subject should look like reveals the limitations of the ‘‘you go, girl’’ notion of consumer choice.

    The Swan attracted further criticism internationally as British comedian and writer Charlie Brooker launched attacks on it during his Channel 4 show You Have Been Watching, where guest Josie Long suggested the show be renamed "The bullies were right".

    In 2013, second-season contestant Lorrie Arias spoke publicly about problems she attributed to her participation in The Swan, including unresolved surgery complications and mental health problems she says were exacerbated by her appearance on the program.

    The show was ranked at #1 in Entertainment Weekly's 10 Worst Reality-TV Shows Ever.


    The Swan (TV series) Wikipedia

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