As Little People, Big World Ends, So Does a Certain Type of Reality Show

The series finale of TLC’s Little People, Big World aired Monday; I suspect you either watched or you had no idea Little People, Big World was still on. The show was actually a solid and consistent docudrama, but it couldn’t even hope to compete with the tabloid fodder of Kate Gosselin and Sarah Palin. So while the Roloff family may have genuinely wanted to move on from a life in front of the camera, it didn't really matter, because there was no longer room for Little People, Big World on TLC.

It’s been a long time since anyone's thought of TLC as The Learning Channel, because when was the last time we learned anything from Cake Boss or Kate Plus 8? The network has consistently reinvented itself, moving from under-the-radar baby stories to headline-making shows. I can’t fault TLC for seeing a good thing and exploiting it, though I do wish I lived in a world minus Kate. At the same time, I can’t help but miss the modest charms of the Roloffs selling pumpkins and arguing over chores and, you know, not cheating on their significant others in a spectacularly public fashion. The stakes have been raised, and Matt Roloff wasn’t shooting caribou.

I enjoyed the Little People, Big World finale, but I’ll admit it was fairly underwhelming. I mean, nothing happened. The twins talked about moving out, made plans to do so, and then backed out at the last minute. Matt and Amy toyed with the idea of divorce, even hinting that they might be headed in that direction now that the show is over, but we didn’t get any Jon and Kate-style fireworks. That’s not the Roloff way. In fact, the “drama” felt more like TLC trying to force conflict into the series, so that the show might go out with a bang. It didn’t, but points for effort, I guess.

I’ve been watching Little People, Big World since it first aired in 2006. I’ve probably missed some of the 226 episodes (yes, really), but I’ve tuned in enough to keep up with what was going on. There’s a certain comfort to a reality show that focuses—no pun intended—on the small stuff. In fact, I watched Jon & Kate Plus 8 before the series devolved into an abhorrent mess. And sure, Jon and Kate were never ordinary, just as the Roloffs faced unusual challenges. But that was the point. These TLC series were once about people in extraordinary situations trying to carve out normal lives for themselves. That’s right, there was a time when Kate wasn’t trying to dance her way to stardom.

This isn’t a condemnation of reality TV in general—it’s an easy genre to criticize. I’m merely mourning the loss of a type of reality show. There isn’t a place for the Roloffs anymore; they never achieved the fame of their TLC contemporaries, and they certainly don’t have Sarah Palin’s notoriety. That’s fine. I’d like to think they’re glad to have been left relatively unchanged by their TLC experience. They could have made offensive comments in public, or written tell-all books, or released sex tapes. I’m not sure anyone would have cared, but that’s a moot point: The Roloffs seemed satisfied with their lot.

But that's just not enough anymore. Though The Little Couple remains on the air, I’m doubtful TLC can sustain that series for much longer. As the channel continues to plug its special Palin-Gosselin crossover—Sarah takes Kate and the brood camping this weekend—it’s clear where TLC’s priorities lie. Oh, well. I have fond memories of the Roloffs, and I’m sure those who stuck with the show throughout its unfabulous run can share that.


Follow TV.com writer Louis Peitzman on Twitter: @LouisAtTVDotCom

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the kids sure show true colours when matt wants to get out of trailer and sell farm. they can't run farm , let matt retire
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I can't help but think about how many children who died in Darfur because they didn't get the .43 cent medicine because the whole family squandered their money on the absurd building of tree houses, castle, western town, etc Of which his children out grew them before Matt finished them.

And those of you say, "what's it to you how they spend their money?" When the Roloffs live their lives on reality tv, should expect such observations and forum conversations about ALL their issues
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JUST AS I WROTE A FEW YEARS AGO, & AGAIN: I STOPPED WATCH LPBW BACK IN 2010 BCUZ I CULDN'T WATCH ANOTHER REALITY SHOW MARRIAGE GO DOWN THE CRAPPER. SURE, THE ROLOFFS HAD MARITAL ISSUES BEFORE THE SHOW.

YET, TLC BEARS SOME OF RESPONSIBILITY TOO BY NOT TAKING CARE OF THEIR SUBJECTS.

I DIDN'T WATCH THIS MOST RECENT EPISODE EITHER. SAD, JUST SAD TO SEE A MARRIAGE THAT OBVIOUSLY HAD SOME CHEMISTRY IN THE BEGINNING AND ENDED DUE TO PRIDE & TV RATINGS.

AND I WON'T WATCH THIS SEASON EITHER.
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I THINK LITTLE PEOPLE BIG WORLD SHOULD AIR AGAIN'ITS A INTERESTING SHOW N I LIKED WATCHING IT;PLEASE PUT THE ROLOFT FAMILY BACK ON THE AIR;
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I just simply want to thank the Roloff family for sharing so much of their lives with us. I never missed a segment. Their family dynamics is memorable for me. They are what America strives to be in their zest for life and love fo each other. I wish them the best from now on.
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Matt & Amy's family dynamics!! Are you sure you watched "every" segments? Didn't you see the power plays, Matt's self centered, egotistical, self absorbed, tyrant? Not to mention all the money he spent on the treehouse, western village, ship, etc. Things that were built in years, not months; but never saw how his children out grew "HIS dream".

Time spent, often without his kids, then was offended because no one "appreciated" his efforts.

Hardly deserving to be extolled as "AMERICA'S example of family & zest for life."

Seriously. . . "sharing", "loving"? Really!?
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Best wishes to the Roloff's they deserve better than the likes of TLC.
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I'm glad I wasn't the only person who found Matt Roloff annoying! I always wondered why Amy stayed with him when she seemed to be a genuinely sweet and intelligent lady (dealing with an irresponsible, overspending, ignorant husband). However, I'm not surprised to hear that they may get divorced now. While I wasn't a faithful watcher of the show, I did watch enough to know what was going on most of the time. But I always ended up irritated with Matt by the end of an episode! LOL!
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I will miss them. We didn't miss a show and me and my husband wish them luck with the rest of their lives.They are truly a wonderful family.
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Suzvw061 Posted 12/09/2010 19:03:32

If you didn't like the show you should have turned it off. Apparently you missed the episodes that showed Zach working at the indoor soccer arena so he is working as if it is any of your concern. The last time I checked it is still a free country and people can spent their money on whatever they want whether you like it or not. Frankly, you sound jealous and petty. I enjoyed the show and hate to see it go off the air.
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I can't disagree more. When have the Rollofs ever been considered "modest"? They may have been an average family when the children were all very small, but matt is all about the money. I have never seen people spend so much on such stupid stuff in my life! All that heavy equipment, cars, all the building which just ended up sitting there...crazy. The final show was all about the boys finally moving out, not helping around the "farm" like they should, not finding work, not contributing to the family....and yet Amy was so proud that Zach took the initiative and purchase a new car!! What is so prideful in that? The Previa wasn't good enough? And now all of a sudden the farm has gotten too much for Matt? Oh please. I'm glad it's over. I was never much of a fan, but when nothing else was on I'd watch...less and less in recent years. And now a lawsuit...oh brother. Gag me.
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I didn't watch the show, because I swore off not ever watching again since 2010-ish. Matt was such an over bearing person, spent money without care, built things for his kids like the ship and castle (so the daughter could play princess). Never mind by the time he finished, she was w....a.....y past playing princess.Matt was well known for not finishing a project, and never sticking to a budget. All the while, failing to be a dad while at it. Poor Amy, Matt rarely sought her advice, and when he did, he rejected it anyway. Then there's the "family" trips he didn't attend. or never completed.

And Zach, his father's biggest critic, is JUST like him too. All of their kids have been selfish and irresponsible, they've had a most excellent of teachers.
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I've watched it intermittently but I won't miss it per se. Matt Roloff always annoyed the h**l out of me.
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My wife and I watche LPBW faithfully. At first, it was a novel curiosity. Dwarfism wasn't on anybodys radar screen. But, as time went on, their physical differences didn't matter anymore. We enjoyed watching the family grow through the years. Matt spent every nickel they had on one project after another, the house was always a total pigsty with clothes and junk everywhere, and the obvious tension between Amy and Matt was always present. Molly was the only "normal" one of the bunch. Smart, unassuming, and determined to make something of her life. Despite all the turmoil...this was a unique and inspiring family. Not many would allow cameras to follow their every activity. That has to get old real fast. But...it allowed them to put dwarfism out there. It gave them a respect that wasn't there before. It also helped them financially, I'm sure. We will miss the show, and thank them for letting us share their lives. Good luck...
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I loved this show. One of my favorite on TLC. It was interesting to just watch how they lived a normal life to the best of their ability even though they had to go through extraordinary circumstances. Not a whole lot of people watched this show, but those that did never watched it because of the drama or shocking content of it, like the do with Kate. They (myself included) watched it because they liked these people, felt a connection with them, and enjoyed watching their triumphs. I wish them all the best!
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I enjoyed the show. Although you could tell TLC was trying to force things when they didn't need to be...for example the promo for the end of the season was so dramatic - for what? Nothing happened. TLC has lost its way in their search for ratings.
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I really can't stand the show and always hated the father, while I don't like Sarah Palin or love the new Kate plus 8, I am still glad its over
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I liked to watch it from time to time but I won't miss this show.
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never liked this show. always thought the little couple was better. this family annoyed me
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I'm really really sad that Little People, Big World is over. Really sad. Depressed, even. It was such a wonderful, benign show that didn't play into dramatics, it was just a lovely portrait of a family in a fantastic setting.
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