A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this spinoff of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, featuring American Gypsy and Traveller communities celebrating weddings and other ceremonies, includes discussion of issues like premarital sex and domestic abuse. It contains some bleeped language ("f--k"), as well as some sexually oriented insults ("slut"). Drinking is occasionally visible at celebrations, and many of the young men smoke cigarettes. Some folks may find the cultural traditions of these communities to be sexist and out of touch with mainstream expectations, while others may find it interesting to see how they are able to hold on to their ancient way of life while embracing middle-class American values.
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What's the story?
MY BIG FAT AMERICAN GYPSY WEDDING is a reality series designed to introduce viewers to American Romanichal Gypsy and Traveller communities. Like its British sister series, cameras follow select Gypsy families as they plan elaborate weddings, baptisms, communions, and birthday parties designed to impress. Designing and creating the lavish dresses for these events is Boston dressmaker Sondra Celli. It shows how planning and enjoying these over-the-top celebrations form part of their private and conservative ancient traditions. Viewers also get to see how these communities are holding on to their way of life despite the influences of American mainstream culture. But while they blend into an American middle-class way of life, they must cope with the continued stigmas that surround their communities, and deal with the tensions created when the rules governing their communities conflict with local, state, and federal laws.
Is it any good?
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding offers a voyeuristic look into the lives of American Roma and Traveller communities, whose ancestors were shipped from Europe to American southern plantations as slaves or who arrived Stateside during the immigration waves in the mid 1800s. But unlike their European counterparts, many of the families featured on the show have chosen to hold on to their traditions while blending into a mainstream middle-class lifestyle.
While most of the show's focus is on how wildly extravagant their outfits are and how wild their behavior can become during celebrations, it also underscores many of the cultural practices that sets them apart from other American ethnic communities, which range from extremely patriarchal ways of thinking about women to dealing with the many stereotypes used to define them. Viewers may find their way of life out of touch or extreme, but they may also be surprised by how they are able to hold on to these values within mainstream American culture.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the stereotypes that exist about Gypsies and Traveller communities in America. Where do these generalizations come from? Why are they often negative? In what ways does the media perpetuate them?
Do you think appearing on reality shows like this one will help break down stereotypes, or add to generalizations? After watching this show, Is there anything that you learned about these American communities that surprises you?
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