Living In Someone Else's Shoes
May 31, 2006 2:55 AM   Subscribe

TV shows, movies, books, or other media that involve people living as "someone else" temporarily - whether swapping roles, taking a new role, or pretending to be someone else - to see life in someone else's shoes.

I'm planning an essay based on the concept of "living in someone else's shoes" and I'm looking for things in the media that explore such a concept. Either the person swaps places with someone else, or they see how it's like to be "someone else" for a while.

Some examples:

* 30 Days
* Wife Swap
* Faking It
* MTV's Made

* Parent Trap
* Freaky Friday
* The Great Mom Swap (is that the name? Two school friends swap families; one is from a slightly more high-class family while the other is from an immigrant family that owns a deli. The immigrant girl goes out with the high-class girl's brother at some point.)

Any media is fine, though I'm particularly looking at TV, movies, and books.

Thank you!
posted by divabat to Media & Arts (48 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
* Trading Places
* Heaven Can Wait (remade as Down to Earth, and actually a remake of a 1943 film)
* Switch
posted by jedrek at 3:12 AM on May 31, 2006

Quantum Leap.
posted by zanni at 3:15 AM on May 31, 2006

Mr. Mom
Kramer vs. Kramer

Men get to switch roles with their wives?
posted by beccaj at 3:21 AM on May 31, 2006

18 Again!
Vice Versa.
Prelude to a Kiss.
All of Me.

Also, if Trading Places works for you, then Just My Luck.
posted by zanni at 3:24 AM on May 31, 2006

Isn't The Prince and the Pauper kind of the fundament for a lot of these?
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:54 AM on May 31, 2006

Face/Off (does switching faces count?)
posted by DefendBrooklyn at 4:00 AM on May 31, 2006

David Lynch's Lost Highway.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:09 AM on May 31, 2006

An Alex Toth comic from 1974:
posted by martinrebas at 4:18 AM on May 31, 2006

Antonioni's The Passenger
posted by pasici at 4:23 AM on May 31, 2006

posted by Cyrano at 4:30 AM on May 31, 2006

The classic episode of I Love Lucy: Job Switch
posted by lampoil at 4:46 AM on May 31, 2006

The Pretender?
posted by icontemplate at 4:51 AM on May 31, 2006

Howl's Moving Castle - a young girl suddenly experiences what it's like to be an old woman.
posted by misozaki at 4:57 AM on May 31, 2006

Oh, and The Devil's Arithmetic.
posted by icontemplate at 5:01 AM on May 31, 2006

I don't know why I keep remembering anime and manga for this question, but Ranma 1/2 is another one that comes to mind. A boy turns into a girl when water is splashed on him and turns back into a boy with hot water.
posted by misozaki at 5:25 AM on May 31, 2006

The movie Just One of the Guys and the recent book with a similar theme, Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey into Manhood and Back involve a woman trying to infiltrate male society.

Also, Black Like Me is probably one of the classics of this genre.
posted by drew3d at 5:39 AM on May 31, 2006

Being John Malkovich. Great movie.
posted by Meagan at 5:41 AM on May 31, 2006

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich.
posted by trip and a half at 5:48 AM on May 31, 2006

Boys Don't Cry
The Crying Game
The Major and the Minor
City Lights
Some Like it Hot
The Lady Eve
Duck Soup (mirror scene)
Variations on the theme: Strangers on a Train, Top Hat

This happens all the time in Shakespeare plays, many of which have been made into movies or TV Shows: Twelfth Night, Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, King Lear...
posted by grumblebee at 5:55 AM on May 31, 2006

The first book of Paul Auster's New York Trilogy, City of Glass, has the writer Quinn assuming the identity of a mysterious detective named Paul Auster.
posted by saladin at 6:15 AM on May 31, 2006

Taking Lives
The Talented Mr Ripley
posted by alexmikayla at 6:28 AM on May 31, 2006

George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:29 AM on May 31, 2006

Oh, and Rushdie's Satanic Verses, in which two Indian Muslim actors temporarily become mythical religious figures, one an angel and the other a devil.
posted by saladin at 6:54 AM on May 31, 2006

In Mrs. Doubtfire, Robin Williams dresses as a woman to gain more access to his kids. So I guess it's not exactly the premise you're interested in, although he does gain a lot of insight on how elderly women live.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:07 AM on May 31, 2006

"Turnabout Intruder." Captain Kirk swaps bodies with an evil woman!
posted by Kirklander at 7:16 AM on May 31, 2006

I can't believe nobody's mentioned C. Thomas Howell's legendary career-torpedoing blackface role in Soul Man.
posted by staggernation at 7:51 AM on May 31, 2006

Two of the most entertaining melodramas in Bette Davis's career were built on the premise of a woman's theft of her twin sister's identity: A Stolen Life and Dead Ringer. Though the two pictures are quite unlike in plot and mood, they share the (predictable) theme that the grass is not greener on the other side.
posted by La Cieca at 7:52 AM on May 31, 2006

There's currently a show running on FX called Black. White., in which African American and Caucasian families dress up as the other race in order to experience life as an African America/Caucasian.
posted by geeky at 8:19 AM on May 31, 2006

Deception is a miniseries about twin sisters (one poor, one rich) trading places, starring Stefanie Powers.
posted by of strange foe at 9:32 AM on May 31, 2006

MTV actually has a new show called "Why Can't I Be You?" Some dorky kid gets advised by some cool kid he admires. It's depressing.
posted by smackfu at 9:47 AM on May 31, 2006

Noggin has/had a show called "A Walk in Their Shoes" where kids would trade places (someone from a small Alaskan village with a surfer girl from Hawaii, etc)
posted by mikepop at 10:27 AM on May 31, 2006

An early 70s example of a pair of very different NY women swapping lives, apartments and bed partners, somewhere between performance art and going wayyyy too far to hustle for a magazine story, was Nancy Weber's The Life Swap. Out of print, but the link points to some cheap copies on Bookfinder.
posted by Scram at 10:32 AM on May 31, 2006

Catch Me If You Can, based on a true story.
posted by marsha56 at 10:32 AM on May 31, 2006

Nora Vincent recently lived as a man for three years and wrote a book about her experiences in a bowling league, a strip club, a monestary, and dating women: It's called Self-Made Man. It's phenomenal.

Hitchock's Vertigo does some great things with identity.

Also, Shakespeare has tons of characters who pretend they're someone else for various purposes, most of them comedic: Viola from Twelfth Night, Rosalind from As You Like It, the Duke from Measure for Measure. And spells cast in Midsummer Night's Dream cause characters to behave in an entirely different way, which gains them additional trouble/perspective.
posted by mochapickle at 10:34 AM on May 31, 2006

Also, the Patty Duke Show. It was about identical cousins, who often traded places.
posted by marsha56 at 10:46 AM on May 31, 2006

Sorority Boys and She's the Man.
posted by headspace at 10:58 AM on May 31, 2006

Grumblebee, i totally stole some of yours -- my apologies!
posted by mochapickle at 10:59 AM on May 31, 2006

North by Northwest

Poe's "William Wilson"
Nabokov's "Despair"
posted by minkll at 11:22 AM on May 31, 2006

13 Going on 30 sorta - she lives in her own shoes, 17 years in the future. Cute movie.
posted by clh at 11:22 AM on May 31, 2006

In the same Freaky Friday vein, I can't believe nobody's mentioned Like Father Like Son, starring the Dream Team of Kirk Cameron and Dudley Moore.
posted by mckenney at 11:58 AM on May 31, 2006

Many television examples, of the sub-variety in which two person's consciousnesses swap bodies, over at TV Tropes Wiki: Freaky Friday.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:59 AM on May 31, 2006

posted by mkultra at 3:21 PM on May 31, 2006

Bosom Buddies (w/ Tom Hanks)
Big (w/ Tom Hanks)

any of those many movies that cause an adult and their child to switch places by some magical happenstance...
posted by UnclePlayground at 3:21 PM on May 31, 2006

A Tale of Two Cities
The Man in the Iron Mask
The Scarlet Pimpernel
entire genres, such as superheros (Bat-, Spider-, Superman, etc.) and espionage (Anthony Blunt, George Smiley, No. 6, etc.)
posted by rob511 at 5:22 PM on May 31, 2006

In the (now cancelled) TV show Dead Like Me the main character dies in a freak accident and is recruited to be a Reaper - basically, harvesting the souls of those about to die. Her appearance is changed as a result, and she ends up having some contact with her family - seeing how they are dealing (or not) with her death. It's not temporary (though I haven't finished the series, so no spoilers, thanks), but it is a rather unique perspective to have of one's life and family.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:24 PM on May 31, 2006

Two things:
  • I second the "Vice Versa" reference, but refer you to the Wikipedia page which lists five different versions, TV and film, but more importantly, refers you to the book from 1882. I think you can safely say it's the granddaddy of the "magic body swap" genre.
  • Buffy and Faith magically swap bodies in "Who Are You?" or technically, right at the end of the ep before.

posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:53 PM on May 31, 2006

I've seen at least 2 episodes of Charmed where characters switch bodies (one episode where Piper and Leo swap, and one episode where Paige and Phoebe swap). I wouldn't be surprised if there's more (it seems to be a pretty common occurrence in the show that people's bodies are being used by others...)
posted by antifuse at 5:53 AM on June 2, 2006

posted by donth at 5:37 PM on October 21, 2006

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