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 series, which features traditional weddings and other ceremonies celebrated by the British gypsy and traveling culture, includes some strong bleeped language ("f--k"), and heavy subject matters like premarital sex and discrimination. Beer drinking is visible. Some folks may find some of the traditions presented here troubling, sexist, and out of step with what is considered appropriate in mainstream culture.
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What's the story?
MY BIG FAT GYPSY WEDDING is a popular British docuseries that takes a look into the marital world of Romani gypsy clans and Irish travelers throughout the United Kingdom. Cameras follow engaged teenage women as they go on chaperoned outings, and design their over-the-top wedding dresses in accordance with their cultural traditions and modern-day fashion with the help of fashion designer Thelma Madine. It also showcases events like holy communions and other rituals that begin preparing children for what their wedding day will be like. In between the festivities, the series also highlights how these communities are coping with the weakening of their culture and present-day discrimination.
Is it any good?
The show offers a voyeuristic look into the lives of communities that have historically been very secretive about their traditions and practices, the result of which has been social stereotyping, negative media portrayals, and persecution. While it breaks down some of the stereotypes surrounding them, it doesn't offer a lot of historical or social context for the various practices being presented here. As a result, some of the customs seem bizarre and out of place in mainstream British society.
Nonetheless, the picture being painted here is largely sympathetic, especially when older generations talk about the love they have for their way of life, and how difficult it has become to hold on to it because of influences like the Internet, popular culture, and local British laws. The communities' love of family, especially for their children and grandchildren, is also evident here. You may not agree with their beliefs or lifestyle, but you will at least be able to understand, if not appreciate, what their culture means to them.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what the term "gypsy" means. Does it have positive or negative connotations? How does the media portray gypsy clans? Are these portrayals accurate? Or are they based on stereotypes?
Why do you think these communities are allowing cameras to document their lives? Is it to educate the public? Break down stereotypes? Do you think this show is successful in doing either of these things?
Should all cultural behaviors be respected and permitted in society? Or are there certain behaviors that should be considered inappropriate despite a group's cultural acceptance of them? Who makes the decision?