By Lori Acken
They’re not broke anymore.
But that doesn’t mean life has gotten easier for Todd and Laura Bruce, the once-wealthy Arizona couple whose inspiring battle against the effects of the economic downturn on their blended family of nine is the subject of WEtv reality series Downsized, which returns for a second season tonight at 9pm ET/PT.
“In Season 1, when you have nothing and you come together and become creative and make that a positive experience — in some ways it’s easier than in Season 2 when we have decisions to make because we have a little bit of leverage,” Laura explains. “You don’t have to make the decision of whether you’re going to go out to eat or not when you don’t have any money,” Todd adds. “But with Season 2, when we got a little bit of money from the show and the burden started to ease, now you start to get into those conversations that can cause conflict in a relationship and between the kids.”
Debunking the claims of naysayers who insisted that becoming TV stars surely meant a large cash payout, the premiere episode reveals that after paying back their kids and Laura sister and knocking off the balance of one credit card, the Bruces have $18,000 left over. Enough pay the rent on time and leave food stamps and state-funded insurance behind — and ignite Todd’s desire to buy a home and rebuild the couple’s equity using Laura’s good credit to do so. His wife and the family’s trusty financial adviser Dean Wegner aren’t sold on the plan, especially when Todd’s Missouri job prospect falls through.
“For myself, it was a growing experience because I was raised by a very submissive mother in a very traditional family and I am comfortable in that role,” says Laura. “So it was time to step up and put my opinion in and research about whether or not it was the right thing to do — and that it might not be the same choice that Todd was making.”
“By no means are we perfect,” Todd says, “but Laura and I reflect on what commitment means to us and what we’re trying to convey. So many husbands and wives lost each other and families split — not just in the economic downturn. We hope that we convey the message that we still have arguments, but we always go back to being committed. We want to show people that there isn’t any subject that you can’t communicate about. We become more business partners every day and our personal relationship grows stronger because of that.”