Friday, September 3, 2010

Little People, Big World reality show -- Roloffs on the show, real or fake?

With Little People, Big World returning for it's 6th and final season beginning on Monday September 6th -- one of the common themes fans discuss is bound to come up again. That is the issue of how "real" or "fake" the reality show Little People, Big World is currently.

One of our regular readers, Disillusioned, asked if they could share some additional thoughts on the subject of LPBW being "fake", so we are featuring it here.

All opinions and statements made belong to Disillusioned:

Written by Disillusioned

Recently, the idea of LPBW being "fake" has been a hot topic on the comments section and I just wanted to take a little time to try and address that issue.

The original purpose of LPBW was to educate the general public about dwarfism and how dwarfs live and it accomplished that goal in the very first few episodes of the show. I think we can all agree that the first season or two seemed to be the most real and genuine out of all the others because they most likely were. Afterall, that was their original purpose to say "Hey...yeah we might have some LPs in our family but we're just like here and here's how we do it.."

They showed Matt going to schools giving speeches, Amy working as a teacher and taking care of the kids, and the kids going to school and coming home doing their homework.

But that "realness" can only take a show so far before people start saying "Thats how my life is. I don't want to sit here and watch people sitting at home all the time." Jacob even said in a recent show that he likes to play video games and to take it further, Zach has said how he sometimes doesn't have enough motivation to do things.

The funny thing about life is that its repitious...we all do the same things over and over again in our lives so imagine how boring it would really be to tune in every week and see the Roloffs doing the same things over and over again; hanging around the house playing video games, listening to music, or taking care of business.

Matter of fact, we still wouldn't be watching the show at all because it would've been cancelled a long time ago.

The reason why the show is still going on in general is because of the Roloffs themselves. Long ago, after the first couple of episodes, we all moved passed the fact that some of them are dwarfs and took an interest in them either as a family or as individuals or as both. Some want to see how Amy and Matt handle their family while some watch to see if they catch a glimpse of Jeremy shirtless or to see what Zach and Molly are doing with their friends and still yet, younger kids might watch because they have a crush on Jacob. Even still, we would eventually get tired of seeing them do the same things over and over again.

I think people get too caught up in the fact that the show is listed as a "reality" show and forget the part that its on TV and is produced by Gay Rosenthal Productions.

Now lets focus on that. LPBW is a TV show which means that is is a form of entertainment and having Gay Rosenthal Productions means that it is a production...which roughly translates to a staged event-just like a Broadway play is a production. Yet people bring up the point that "Oh...well the Roloffs say that what people see on their show is real for the most part." Notice the words "for the most part." They most likely are meaning that some of the real events and discussions that happen in their real lives make it on the show but mainly what they mean is probably the fact that their reactions to the events they're in are the real "reality" on the show.

We all know that the show is planned and staged in certain aspects and thats simlpy because the camera crew has to have a reason to show up and film. The crew doesn't always want to film the same things happening over and over again because it doesn't make for good TV.

I always liken the world of reality TV to something most people don't realize was probably the first basic format of reality TV and that is the world of professional wrestling. In wrestling, two or more wrestlers have a storyline that builds over a matter of time and usually results in a big hyped match. Before that big time match, the two wrestlers will get together to discuss their "spots" or the big entertainment parts of the match (much as the producers of TV shows get together and discuss what they want to do with their "spots" which most likely end with vacation or trip of some sort.)

Now onto storylines. Why does wrestling have storylines? To make it entertaining and to have a point to it, much like most reality shows have today. The basic idea of storylines is that at the end people will see the actions and reactions that the people involved took to get to the end of that segment. Thats my reason why LPBW may have storylines as well.

The now infamous "Story line Cheat Sheet" was spotted by viewers on the desk during an episode of LPBW in season 5

Speaking of wrestling, Hulk Hogan had a reality show called Hogan Knows Best. In one of Hogans books, he talked about the behind the scenes of his show. In the book he said that him and each of his family members had a specific schedule with the camera crew. Hogan would have them for some hours, his wife had them for some, the kids for some, and then the whole family was together with them for film "family" segments and no matter who had the crew, each of them had to be in the immidiate area of filming just in case they were needed for whatever segment they were filming.

Hogan even said that each one of them had their own "roles" or "characters" to play (which strangely reminds me of the storyline cheat sheet someone found on Matt's desk.) Hogan himself obviously played the wrestler dad who took care of his family, his wife was told to act like she wanted everything big and expensive, his daughter was told to act like she was boy crazy because viewers would think she was hot (even though Hogan said she was actually not like that at all in real life), and his son was told to act spoiled and be rude and act like a brat because he wanted attention since he was the baby of the family. I need to make any comparisons between the Hogan family and the Roloff family based on their TV shows? Lets see.. Matt is the dad who takes care of the family, Amy handles the kids like Hogans wife used to do on the show, Jeremy being sexy going shirtless because one of the producers probably told him that viewers would find him to be attractive

And Jacob, who people say is rude and acts like a brat (those aren't my words, those were comments taken out of the comment sections.)

They probably all act that way because they were told to do so to follow the storylines.

Jacob sailing through the store on a shopping cart -- natural Jacob or encouraged for the show?

Its amazing how people don't pay any attention to the fact that if they look on any websites that credit the Roloffs for being on their show, none of them list them as regular people....they list them as actors.


David said...

You make some good points, but I don't think it's a given that the only way to continue a reality show after the first few episodes is by being fake and contrived.

They do a lot of filming. In a half season they only need to fill 44 minutes, 10 times. (20, thirty minute episodes, an hour a week).

It's a cop out to say they the only thing to show would be them watching tv or playing video games.

The Roloffs could be interesting if they were real, but they aren't because it's harder to put your personal life out for everyone to see.

Jeremy and Zach had a friend that died that people say had substance abuse issues and used to party with Jeremy. I could have done something about that. They could have done something about Jeremy being in the National Enquirer for the slurs. That was real. Deal with that. And all the drinking and smoking up that everybody knows the twins and their friends really do. Those are real issues real families deal with.

What about all these girls Jeremy is rumored to be having flings with? I'm not interested myself, but obviously other fans are, what about that? They ignore personal things like to follow fake story line cheat sheets.

Those are just some suggestions. There are real issues and the Roloffs are interesting if they were willing to be real. It doesn’t have to be all watching tv.

Anything, even real documentaries have production companies and producers. It doesn't mean they are on par with a Broadway play.

Expressed said...

I agree a bit about the part about personalities, but I think over 5 years their personalities are not an act. I don't think Jacob is told to act bratty. Matt and Amy's comments in interviews kinda suggest that when they talk about how difficult he is to raise.

I think they could be more real than what they have been the last couple of seasons. If you read my reviews, I struggled with that in my reviews last season. I'm supposed to be the positive reviewer, lol! I tried. I tried hard. But a voice kept on yelling at me while I was was saying "Oh come on! This is so fake and scripted or set up. Like the scene in Europe when the waitress who just happens to be the Mayors daughter, just happens to wait on Jeremy's and Zach's table, just happens to have room for them to stay, and the Mayor just happens to be all ready for them and a full camera crew and just happens to have tickets for one of the twins favorite soccer teams. That scene screamed fake. The convo between Jeremy and the waitress was painful to watch. They both were trying so hard to be actors.

All they needed to do to get something real worth watching was ditch all that fake junk and film after Jeremy had those giant beers :)

I think the real problem is two fold. They are so fake with the image stuff trying to keep it clean family fun that they can't be real and that the crew and the producers are best buddies with the Roloffs. I notice they didn't show anything at night when Jer and Zach were in Europe or in Amsterdam? I wonder why! LOL! Want to bet the producers and camera crew partied with the Roloffs? That's what they should have been filming. Someone high up with TLC messed up big time by letting the crew cross the line into becoming best buddies with the Roloffs instead of staying professional and doing a job.

I'd like to see the real Roloffs personality. I think seeing how Jeremy and Mueller really are on those hikes would be better to watch than the stuff that everybody knows is fake and the stupid repetitive story lines where they pretend like something is going to be a failure and then at the last minute, it turns out to be more successful than they ever dreamed. They do that for almost every episode. Just show the real Roloffs and their personalities and cut the fake storyline crap. I've heard that Zach can actually be funny in real life. Let them be themselves and cut the bad storylines.

Brandon said...

I've listened to interviews where Matt and Amy are asked if it's real and they say it is real and raw.

It is not real and raw if there are suggested story lines and story line cheat sheets and if it is like pro wrestling.

Also, if it is fake, I'd like Matt to acknowledge that when people tell him they love his family. That's the annoying part about Matt. When it's good, Matt wants people to believe that they are real and fans see the real them. But if it's a criticism, Matt laughs that people believe him when he says the show is real and raw.

Ashley said...

I don't think it's a big deal that they're listed as actors. It's a tv show. They need to list them as something. Most things say Staring Matt Roloff, Amy Roloff, Zach Roloff...or Matt himself, Jeremy Roloff... himself.

Michelle said...

Good point about the Hogans and the family roles. Maybe I should read his book.

I bet one of the Roloffs will write a book like that too when their TLC contract expires.

Jason said...

The show SHOULD HAVE have been cancelled a long time ago. It just became about the Roloffs getting rich and selfish.

Susan said...

The problem is people started watching because the Roloffs seemed real. They seemed different from fake reality tv. As the seasons went on, they became like the rest. All about fame and money.

Sasha said...

I totally agree with Jason.The money and fame changed The Roloffs,and not in a good way. I do think that Molly will turn out alright. She seems to be the only level headed one of the bunch.
In the beginning, I sometimes wished that I could be adopted by the Roloffs!! Now,no way would I want to be a part of that.

Will said...

I agree. There is no such thing as reality tv because the minute someone is on camera, they are not themselves. That doesn't even get into the very valid production issues you talked about.

Jolie said...

Here goes another try at this. Disillusioned makes some really valid points and the wrestling analogy is good one, but I would not equate LPBW to a Broadway play. In my opinion, “Is it real, or is it fake?” is not the appropriate question. Is it scripted? No. Is it plotted out with writers who determine the problem, position that arc of the ‘characters’ and then bring the storyline to a nice neat conclusion in the end? No. The Roloffs are not handed a script at the beginning of the day and they do not sit around a table to do a read through or rehearse their parts. A director doesn’t discuss their motivation with them in order to achieve a particular audience response.

Is it structured? Yes, of course it is. It is a business after all. No production company is going to film hours and hours of random video in hopes that they can edit a cohesive and entertaining story together at the end of the day, and no network is going to broadcast boring and mundane household tasks. There has to be a plan. But having a plan does not make it less ‘real’.

Part of the planning would include mapping out the major or more interesting events and goings on that the Roloffs have scheduled to see what in their lives would hold the most value for entertainment. The events become the content of each episode. Then within each episode the story has to flow. Some confusion arises when a piece of audio or video from one moment is edited into another moment for clarity or to create drama. This is a customary practice, but the context of what happened remains ‘real’. Another tool used to add clarity and drama is the individual interviews. They are used to set up a scene or conclude one as well.

I believe, where more confusion arises, is that events/moments are not necessarily edited together in chronological order. It never has been. If you go back and look at even early episodes, you will see this to be the case. It is after all entertainment, and that means creating drama. The production company determines how they want the episodes put together to round out the season and set it up for the next. The Roloffs are not the editors although I know there were times when they wish they were.

Brandon said...

Jolie, then the Roloffs should not be insisting that the show is real and raw. They have been asked the question by tv hosts, I forget it if it was the Morning hosts in Oregon or by Bonnie Hunt or by Rachael Ray or by Joy Behar but they have been asked lots of time. When the hosts ask with skeptism about reality tv and how it can't be real, that's when they insist it is real.

Can you watch the show and determine what the Roloffs are really like and what happened? If you can't, than it's not real.

The big problem I have with Matt (and to a lesser degree, Amy) is this.

They insist it's real because they know people won't watch if they don't think they're watching what really happens and if they're just acting out storylines.

Case in point. Look at Matt's response on his Facebook last season when he was "chuckling" over how stupid fans were to believe what was presented on the show.

They were criticizing him for missing the beginning of the World Dwarf Games and causing Amy stress by leaving all the work to her. He was accused of showing blatant favoritism to Jeremy by only taking the Golden Boy to Switzerland with him and not Molly and Jacob.

Matt's response was to call people silly and foolish for believing what they watched and laugh at them for being naive.

Why did fans believe that? It wasn't because they're idiots or can't hear. They believed it because that is what was presented on the show. Amy and Zach speaking words out of their own mouth about how they were disappointed that Matt skipped out and left Amy with the work when they arrived in the opening days.

Quotes from Zach and Molly about how Matt announced that he was taking Jeremy only and Molly and Jake weren't included in his invite.

Do you get it? That is what the show said happened. That was words coming from the mouths of the Roloffs.

If that's not what happened, if Matt didn't really miss the opening days of the WDG, if Matt didn't just offer his Swiss vacation to Jeremy and not Molly and Jake, than the show is fake and not in any way shape or form real and the Roloffs, in this case, Amy, Zach and Molly are liars and actors reading a script because out of Molly's mouth came the words that Matt and Jeremy were being selfish for zipping off to Switzerland because they didn't want to be bored at the World Dwarf games and that's what fans were criticizing Matt for after the show.

Matt's response to that was to call people silly and foolish for believing what they watched and heard.

The other thing that is annoying is that Matt and Amy want credit for showing the "Good, Bad and Ugly" when they clearly don't show what really goes on. In most families, the son using slurs and being called a bigot in a publication that is in every grocery store in any city in America would at least be a topic of conversation once. A significant one. But it wasn't. The same with all the drinking and *other activities* from the twins and their friends. But none of that is even hinted at because the show is fake and would rather portray them as sweet kids that build forts because they are so unlike most teens that adults think are *bad*.

David said...

The Roloffs play games with the word "scripted". No, I don't think they read scripts.

But following story lines is not being real.

Use Expressed's example. Unless you believe that TLC sent their well paid tv stars, Jeremy and Zach Roloff and a producer and camera and sound crew of about nine or ten people to Germany with no place to stay and they just randomly met a pretty girl that was the daughter of the mayor who just by concidence had spare time to show the Roloffs around Germany....then the show is not real.

Katie said...

When LPBW first started I was fascinated and watched initially because I was curious about little people. We had little people living in our neighborhood, but I never really knew or got to know them. After I became a fan of the show the fact that the Roloffs were a family with little people was not the focus for me. I just loved watching the family and their life. I am a big reality TV watcher. I like seeing inside other people’s lives. I liked watching the Roloffs when the show first started and I still like watching them. I understand that “Reality” is relative. It doesn’t make a difference to me if parts have to be mixed up in editing.

Allison said...

I think the show should have ended when it stopped being about a real family living real life. Too bad they couldn't have filmed a bunch of season before it got televised.

That Matt is now talking about them inking more media deals and being courted by agents and lawyers goes to show how messed up they became and how the money and fame when to their heads.

When I watched them and liked them in the first season I didn't think I was watching a bunch of wanna be celebrities.

Jolie said...

Brandon, where in what I wrote did you read that I stated the events were not real? Let me be clearer, what you see is real, the events are real, the reactions are real, the story is real. It continues to be perplexing why people such as yourself fixate on semantics making it impossible for you to see the truth. It is perplexing why you are apparently unable to expand your mind to understand what I am telling you. I am not really sure whether it is an actual lack of ability to understand or a lack of willingness to understand. What I am sure of is that my message is not for you. No matter what I say, it is clearly more important for you to remain within your very limited viewpoint.

Brandon said...

Jolie, you totally ignored the issue. When fans believe what they see and are told on the show, Matt laughs at them for believing it.

Either Matt is just being a jerk by laughing at people who believe him that the show is real or the show is fake and staged and they intentionally tell Molly saying Matt and Jer were being selfish by jetting off to Switzerland b/c they didn't want to be bored and then Matt calling people silly and foolish for believing that's what really happened.

You or Matt, can't play the editing card for stuff like that.

"Let me be clearer, what you see is real, the events are real, the reactions are real, the story is real."

What about David and Expressed's points about the stuff in Germany with the Mayor's daughter? Do you really expect people to believe that wasn't orchestrated and wasn't pre-planned?

Timothy said...

They should have never allowed Matt and Amy to become producers. They obviously are going to try to make themselves look as good as possible and keep things out about their kids that they don't want people to know (ie. why some naive folks think Jeremy's idea of a good time is roasting marshmallows around a campfire with Matt and that his first ever taste of alcohol was that beer in Europe).

Like someone said, the other mistake they made with the show was allowing the producers to become friends with the Roloffs on a personal level. The integrity was lost at that point.

Tom said...

Despite a lot of the controversy raging about the show, I for one am very sad it's going. I actually like these people and continue to watch the show. It's not perfect but it is sure better than a lot of other "reality" shows around and the people are more likeable as well.

Lauren said...

I really like the Roloffs but I struggle with this. Everybody says reality tv can't be real and everything you see is planned, talked about and acted out for the cameras. I want to believe the Roloffs when they say it is real but it's hard when some things don't seem real and then when Matt calls us fools if we believe the show. I still like the Roloffs though. The stuff people say about Jeremy and his friends off the show makes it harder to believe the show too.