It’s not like I want to invest my time in yet another reality show, but then last weekend I just happened to stumble across one of TLC’s relatively new series, “Little People, Big World”–and now I feel like I am the newest member of the Roloff family. Matt and Amy Roloff are dwarves, standing only about four feet tall, who have four children, some who are average height (the Roloffs do not use the word “normal”), and some who are small-statured like their parents. The series chronicles the family’s challenges as they run a business and tend a 35-acre farm. The show also gives an up-close look at the daily struggles of being vertically challenged in our fast-paced society.
There are many reasons to applaud this show, from the way it respects the Roloffs’ unique world to the way it balances the portrayal of their challenges along with their truimphs. While most reality shows try to outsleaze each other with outlandish casting and prurient premises, the Roloffs make for engrossing T.V. because they do not feel sorry for themselves, and instead dream big dreams and take big risks because they want to teach their childen to do the same.
The series also succeeds because not all of the challenges the Roloffs face are specific to their height. While they do face obstacles doing simple tasks we take for granted–such as using a hotel bathroom or pulling a traffic ticket off the windshield of their SUV–they also struggle with problems we can all relate to: paying the bills, worrying about how they are raising their kids, and quibbling with each other about the petty stuff of daily life.
The Roloffs’ faith is also represented on the show, but in a very low-key–dare I say it–normal way. The family prays together at dinner, the kids go to a private Christian school, and they make references to the fact that they believe God created them this way for a reason.
In a culture where “diversity” has become a much over-used buzz word, finally here is a series that actually does celebrate diversity, not in a staged-for-ratings way, but in an authentic way that truly creates a better understanding of a different lifestyle. I was so inspired by this family, after only watching one episode, that I found myself taking time to examine what I complain about but shouldn’t, what is holding me back in my life that shouldn’t, and how I could be just a little more like the Roloffs.