Little People, Big World
|Little People, Big World|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||7|
|No. of episodes||232 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||42 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Gay Rosenthal Productions|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)
|Original run||March 4, 2006– present|
|Followed by||Little People Big World: Wedding Farm|
Little People, Big World is an American reality television series that premiered on March 4, 2006, and airs on TLC. The series chronicles the lives of the six-member Roloff family farm near Portland, Oregon. Many of the episodes focus on the parents, Matt and Amy, and one of their sons, Zach, who are diagnosed with dwarfism.
On August 26, 2010, TLC announced that the sixth season would be the last for the show. After its final season, TLC aired several specials: Conquering Mount St. Helens, Breaking Down the Walls, and Welcome to the Jungle. On October 5, 2012, TLC announced a spin-off series – Little People Big World: Wedding Farm. It chronicles Matt and Amy as they jump-start their wedding business on the farm. The series premiered on November 13, 2012, and ran for six episodes.
In 2010, Amy Roloff commented on the beginnings of the show: "TLC came to us about five or six years ago, and so we suddenly realized we were given a great opportunity to educate people about dwarfism. When it was offered that we do a show about our lives, my husband and I were like, "Wow, nothing like this has even been on the air." Nothing had depicted dwarfism in an everyday way. Lo and behold, a few episodes turned into six seasons. And here we are."
The show follows the daily lives of the Roloff family — parents Matt and Amy, and their four children: Zach, Jeremy, Molly and Jacob. Matt, Amy and Zach are little people, while Jeremy, Molly and Jacob are of average height. Zach and Jeremy are fraternal twins; although Zach is not of average height, his brother Jeremy is average height (6'1", or 185 cm).
The family lives on the 36-acre (146,000 m2) Roloff Farms, located north of Hillsboro in Helvetia, Oregon (a suburb of Portland). Although crops of pumpkins are grown and sold by the family, much of the farm has been converted into a series of playground set pieces for the Roloff children. They were designed by Matt, who spent most of his childhood in the hospital. He has tried to make his children's life the best possible.
Episodes of the show typically showcase one or more members of the Roloff family engaging in everyday activities such as shopping, athletics and dealing with household finances. The drama of the show arises from the fact that many of these activities are made more challenging due to the height of the dwarfs in the family, as Matt and Amy are 4'1" (124 cm) and Zach is 4'4" (132 cm).
- Matthew ("Matt") — 52 year-old (b. October 7, 1961, in California) husband and father; Matt's career was in computer software sales. As the series began, Matt was no longer employed by the company, but was engaged in establishing the business he co-founded, Direct Access Solutions. The company markets accessibility kits for little people to the hospitality industry. As the first season ended, Matt started another job as a software salesman with Amdocs in order to provide the family with additional income. Matt's type of dwarfism, diastrophic dysplasia, resulted in numerous childhood surgeries. He walks with the aid of crutches and uses a motorized cart when needed.
- Amy — 49 year-old (b. September 17, 1964, in Michigan) wife and mother; Amy is a stay-at-home mother, although she recently took part-time jobs as a soccer coach and preschool teacher to provide the family with additional income. Amy's type of dwarfism is achondroplasia, and she has experienced very few (if any) complications. Amy is a graduate of Central Michigan University. When not acting, coaching, parenting, or teaching, she’s a philanthropist. Her Amy Roloff Charity Foundation makes use of her celebrity by benefitting the needs' of kids, at-risk youths, and disability groups. Amy’s also given back to the Dwarf Athletic Association of America (DAAA), helped fund an organization for foster care parents and the kids they've adopted, as well as supported low-income senior housing and a homeless shelter focusing on keeping family units together.
- Zachary Luke ("Zach") and Jeremy James — 23 year-old (b. May 10, 1990, in Oregon) twin brothers. Jeremy is 6'1" and a soccer player. Zach has achondroplasia like his mother. Zach is 4'4" and Amy is 4'2". Unlike his mother, however, Zach has had numerous medical complications. As a child, Zach had a skull shunt implanted to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid. The shunt failed and had to be replaced surgically (as depicted in the season 1 episode "Zach's Emergency"). Zach used to play soccer competitively, but stopped playing for a time due to his size compared to the other soccer players. In Season 2, he started playing competitive soccer again as he made his high school's soccer team. However, his play was on hold temporarily as he had surgery to correct the bowing of his legs. He would like to be a soccer coach when he is older and coached Jacob's soccer team. Both twins graduated from high school in the spring of 2009. Zach made an appearance on WWE Tough Enough as part of a basketball game against little people.
- Molly Jo — 20 year-old (b. September 17, 1993, in Oregon) daughter; Molly, who shares a birthday with Amy, is 5'9". She plays volleyball.
- Jacob George ("Jake") — 16 year-old (b. January 17, 1997, in Oregon) son; Jacob is average height. He plays on a youth soccer team coached by his mother.
- Rocky — The Roloffs' former bullmastiff. He died on June 26, 2013, at the age of 13.
Jacob Roloff and family friend Mike Detjen, were seriously injured in an accident on the family farm on Saturday, October 28, 2006 (episode aired April 9, 2007). They were injured when the family's trebuchet (which they use to launch pumpkins as part of the pumpkin season promotion) prematurely triggered. Jacob was rushed to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland and underwent surgery to relieve swelling in his head caused by a small piece of skull pushed into his brain. Jacob and Mike recovered from the injuries and were released on Monday, October 30, 2006.
Although a TLC camera crew were at the farm recording footage, they were not in the area where the accident occurred. The accident, therefore, was not recorded. Prior to the airing of two new episodes on November 4, TLC aired a brief segment with Matt and Amy acknowledging the accident and thanking everyone for their support. Jacob was shown with what appeared to be an injury around his right eye.
Footage taken shortly after the accident occurred on the farm was shown December 16 in the final minutes of the season 2-A finale, "Farm Overload." A crowd had gathered around Jacob, who was lying on the ground near the trebuchet. The first two episodes of season 2-B focus on the accident, and how the local media reacted to it.
|Season||Episodes||Season Premiere||Season Finale|
|1||20||March 4, 2006||May 13, 2006|
|2||52||October 7, 2006||July 16, 2007|
|3||44||October 15, 2007||June 2, 2008|
|4||48||October 13, 2008||May 11, 2009|
|5||40||October 12, 2009||June 14, 2010|
|6||20||September 6, 2010||December 6, 2010|
|7||8||October 29, 2013||December 17, 2013|
The first season of Little People, Big World generated solid ratings for TLC (especially in the important 18–49 demographic), leading to the show's renewal for a second season. Critical reviews of the series have been generally positive, citing the show's positive portrayal of little people. Conversely, other reviews have claimed that the show has a voyeuristic bend to it (albeit a non-sexual one), but allows the viewer to feel good about watching because it is not outwardly or overtly exploitive.
Since the show began airing, Roloff Farms has become an extremely popular tourist destination. While the farm and its many attractions have long been available for public viewing during pumpkin season (October), it is now receiving far more visitors than can be accommodated. During the 2006 season, more than 30,000 people arrived to buy pumpkins and tour the farm, which only has space for a few hundred vehicles. The farm was shut down temporarily by Washington County deputies on one Saturday in October 2006, due to massive traffic. Area residents have complained about the gridlock caused by the visitors, as well as about the increased media scrutiny the show has brought.
The Roloffs receive as many as a dozen emails per minute from supporters. The increased exposure, however, has led to safety concerns for the family, who now deal with trespassers and fans. They have since installed a security gate on their property.
The Roloffs have hit the headlines a number of times. In 2006, Jacob and Mike Detjen, a family friend, were severely injured when a pumpkin catapult prematurely launched. In 2007, Matt was arrested on DUI charges. While he was found not guilty of the DUI, he was found guilty of refusing to submit to a blood alcohol test. As a result of his refusal, his driver's license was suspended for three years, because he had previously admitted guilt in a drunken-driving diversion program that he completed in 2003.
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- "'Little People Big World' returning to TLC with new 'Wedding Farm' series". Reality TV World. October 5, 2012.
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- "Ability Magazine: Amy Roloff Discusses Dwarfism with Chet Cooper" (2010)". Retrieved April 4, 2012.
- "Amy Roloff — Cruising for a Cause" ABILITY Magazine (Regina Hall Issue — April/May 2010) Retrieved August 27, 2010.
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- "'Little People, Big World' star Matthew Roloff found not guilty of DUI". Retrieved September 2, 2010.
- Little Family, Big Values: Lessons in Love, Respect, and Understanding for Families of Any Size (in English). 2008. ISBN 1416549110.