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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 03/28/2006

Not All Reality Bites

By Liz Kelly

The reality TV phenomenon has worn a little thin for me. An avid "Real World" fan from the get-go (almost 15 years ago!), I think my eyes started glazing over sometime around "The Anna Nicole Show." My fascination with "Flavor of Love" was nothing short of a sickness, one from which I've now recovered (I won't be there for a rumored second season).

I can still get into a little vintage "Osbournes," but tend to shy away from "Meet the Barkers." It's just seems that in the past few years, reality TV has become completely unreal. It's all the "Surreal Life," if ya get my meaning. In what world -- other than one involving hefty payments -- would Daniel Baldwin, Biz Markie and the freaking Snapple lady compete to lose weight? It's like watching a train wreck and one can only watch so many wrecks without developing post traumatic stress disorder.

Yet along the way, there have been some instances of networks using their reality powers for good. For instance, "American Chopper," "Cops" (we can debate this one in comments) and the excellent PBS offerings "Manor House," "Frontier House," "1900 House" and the soon to come "Texas Ranch House."

"Little People, Big World's" Matt and Amy Roloff. (TLC)

While channel surfing before the Simpsons* on Sunday night, the hubby and I came across "Little People, Big World." The show's been airing on TLC since March 4, so I'm probably one of the last owners of a cable box to catch it and for that I'm sorry. Because this show is reality done right.

On the off chance that someone else out there hasn't yet caught "Little People, Big World," here's the set-up: The show follows Oregon's Roloff family. Mom, dad and one son are little people -- meaning 4-feet tall. Three children are average size. With wit, restraint, timing and access, TLC's cameras give us a peek into what we soon see is an average American family, albeit one with a few more challenges than most.

In one episode, father Matt speaks at a junior high about little people, prejudice and acceptance -- lessons that can't help but be absorbed while watching this excellent, entertaining half-hour of TV.

*Speaking of the Simpsons, did anyone see that they actually ran the live action sequence I linked to a couple of weeks ago during the opening credits? Very cool move.

By Liz Kelly  | March 28, 2006; 10:43 AM ET
Categories:  TV  
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The Roloff's have three average sized children, not two. Other than that, I agree with all the good things you said about "Little People, Big World." I just wish there were more episodes, I've now seen all of them, and some more than once.

Posted by: BMDaze | March 28, 2006 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for pointing that out, BMDaze!

Posted by: Liz | March 28, 2006 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I caught this show by accident, too, and was just really touched and intrigued. I like that they let them be human - don't try to idealize little people into a glossy over-generalization.

My heart aches for the one son, though, watching what he's going through with his oblivious twin.

Posted by: Elle | March 28, 2006 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Not a fan of reality shows I found this to be a great show! I discovered it too recently. I watched it this weekend with my 10 year old son. It has alot to offer abount understanding and compassion

Posted by: Angela | March 28, 2006 1:03 PM | Report abuse

A reality show that is actually real. Real people with real problems. Not overdramatized. I think it is a great lesson in relating to the human spirit no matter what package it comes in.

Posted by: Erin | March 28, 2006 1:38 PM | Report abuse

The Simpsons did run the video, but reversed the negative to make it look like the cars were driving on the right side of the road and the steering wheel was on the left, unlike Britain where the live-action sequence was made.

Posted by: SteveH | March 28, 2006 2:25 PM | Report abuse

One thing I really like about the show is they show you how the family deals with issues everyone wonders about but are afraid to ask a little person. Like the show where the mom goes grocery shopping. OMG the woman is AMAZING.
While there are many additional issues that they face the fact is they do more than most of us ever will (camping, coach soccer, run a farm).

Posted by: Daria | March 28, 2006 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I had seen a one time show on the Oloffs some time ago and was pleasantly surprised while channel surfing to see them again. I thought it was a repeat and wanted to see the whole show since I had only seen part of the special. I'm not a fan of “reality” TV but this type of reality TV I find very enlightening and entertaining. What a shame that that this show wasn’t on the radar and most people seem to have come across it by accident.

Posted by: rlj | March 28, 2006 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Ok, I watch a lot of TLC and Discovery Channel. I saw a "feature" on the Roloff family last year. At that time, they had the twin sons and an adopted Romanian daughter named Sasha, who was not only a little person, but she was autistic as well. Now I see they have a "reality show" and they have "added" a 6 year old son and 13 year old daughter and Sasha has "disappeared". This disturbs me. But I still watch the show.

Posted by: Karla | March 28, 2006 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Note to the poster above - The "feature" you are referring to is about a completely different family, who had two sons and an adopted autistic daughter from Eastern Europe - all of them little people.

Posted by: Amalie | March 28, 2006 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I definitely caught the live action Simpsons intro--I had been waiting for it since I read about it here. Exciting and very well done.

Posted by: sixy | March 29, 2006 9:10 AM | Report abuse

The live action Simpsons couch gag was slated to be used in the show from the get-go, pending Gracie's (the production company) approval afetr it was made. It was commissioned by the UK channel that now has rights to syndicated reruns as a promtional item, with approval to attempt it from Gracie.

Hardly a farsighted 'prediction' that it would be used - but the only changes required were flipping the negative digitally in the scenes of Homer driving and Marge & Maggie 'driving', because of the UK --> US driving rules. They also made Homer's car more "pink" as compared to the UK version, as a correction.

Posted by: Jerry | March 29, 2006 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I am so happy that there will be a season 2.

The Roloffs are an AMAZING family!

Posted by: gina | May 19, 2006 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Our entire family thoroughly enjoyed following the every day life of the Roloffs - They are inspirational in their positive attitudes. They have taught us that even though there may be differences between individuals, we should ultimately embrace our similarities. We are definitely looking forward to Season 2 with the Roloffs & Thank-you for sharing your life with us!

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Posted by: microsoft office 2003 | July 14, 2006 3:40 AM | Report abuse

I love your show keep up the good work.

Posted by: juliana | July 18, 2006 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I love this show so much. It does give a positive attitude and makes us all think.
I have a grandson one year old and he was born with Achronplasia(a form of Dwarfism) and I was so happy to see this show. Both parents and a sister are of normal height. Keep up the good work and I am happy you are coming back again!

Posted by: Elizabeth Leahy | July 24, 2006 11:29 AM | Report abuse When does the next episode of the Rollofs going to be?

Posted by: Cheryl | August 8, 2006 4:54 PM | Report abuse

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