“Little People, Big World” is an American reality television series that documents the intriguing lives of the six-member Roloff family, living on their farmland outside of Portland, Oregon. Most of the series focuses on the parents of the family, Matt and Amy, and their oldest son, Zach, who all possesses a genetic trait known as Dwarfism.
Dwarfism is a genetic attribute identified in biological organisms as retaining a small stature, whether in height or just overall growth, and more commonly occurs in the animal kingdom.
However, Dwarfism has also been diagnosed in humans, usually causing people with this trait to never grow above the height of 4ft 8ins, or 147cms – in fact, the average height among people with Dwarfism is 122 cm, regardless of gender or race.
Dwarfism has long intrigued people, both as a scientific anomaly as well as for its appearance in society and how the general population responds to Dwarfism. Because it’s a genetic trait, it is considered hereditary, meaning the gene would most likely be carried on in a family.
As such, the frequency of occurrence for families like the Roloffs is not quite as uncommon as people might consider, but of course, the intrigue behind the appearance of Dwarfism would provide entertainment to a select audience, which is no doubt what sparked the inception of “Little People, Big World”.
The series debuted in March 2006, airing on the American cable television channel TLC, formerly known as the Learning Channel, and has been met with popular reception among viewers, who all found the Roloffs family’s daily lives and struggles to be entertaining, and maybe to a certain extent, quite insightful.
“Little People, Big World” continued its success on TLC for twenty-four seasons, at one point even raking in a record number of views.
However, not everything on the set of “Little People, Big World” is quite as rosy as the public might view it, as during the airing of the sixth season, the producers announced that it would be the final season for the show. Fortunately, the show was never cancelled, and continues to air even to this day, enjoying a popular reception.
Other than that though, the show has played host to a number of scandals, which of course shocked the viewers and fans of “Little People, Big World”.
Following the series’ popular reception, TLC aired a number of specials, all focusing on various other aspects of the Roloff family’s lives, which includes “Conquering Mount St.Helens”, “Welcome To The Jungle”, and numerous others.
Aside from this, the show’s popularity also earned it several spin-offs, such as “Little People, Big World: Wedding Farm”, which focused on Mat and Amy’s wedding hosting and planning business they started in 2013, but the spin-off series only ran for six episodes before being cancelled.
The Show and Its Stars
The premise of the series typically follows the lives of Matt and Amy as they go by their daily lives on the Roloff Farm in the North of Hillsboro in Helvetia, Oregon, just outside of Portland. The family grows pumpkin crops as means to make a regular living, though the largest part of their farm is dedicated as a playground for their four children, namely Zachery “Zack” Luke, Jeremy James, Molly Jo and Jacob George.
Throughout the series, the show addresses the everyday struggle associated with Dwarfism, and follows the family as they go about their everyday tasks such as providing for the family, grocery shopping, and athletic activities.
More often, the show educates the audience on how people with Dwarfism overcome the difficulties that arise from being much shorter than the general population of the world.
This ranges from how Matt’s cars had to be adjusted so that he could drive, to even including the struggles of going to the supermarket and being unable to reach the top shelves. While it provides insightful entertainment to viewers, the show also capitalises on the drama of being an extraordinary family having to struggle with unique difficulties.
Speaking about the inception of the series during an interview in 2010, Amy stated that TLC approached the family in 2005, suggesting the creation of the series as a means to provide audiences with an insightful view of life with Dwarfism.
At the time, Matt wanted the series to assume a unique approach, as no other television series, documentary, or film has ever provided a perspective like this on Dwarfism.
Naturally, Amy and Matt agreed, and allowed the cameras into their home, saying that it was an opportunity like no other, that not only to educate the world on their handicap but would also provide the family with a means to improve their financial status.
As such, Matt began working on improving the farm, renovating it into the playground sets that it is known as today, and opening it for access to the world outside so fans and people may tour the farm, and even come to buy pumpkins during the October season.
Matthew “Matt” Roloff, the father of the family, was born on 7 October 1961, and due to his specific type of Dwarfism, suffered from numerous medical complications throughout his youth and later life resulting in undergoing required surgeries so that he could walk properly, and have an almost decent life. Despite that, the surgeries proved successful, Matt still walks with the assistance of crutches, and at times has to rely on a motorised cart to get around and perform daily tasks. Because of this, Matt spent a great deal of time in hospital, and so wanted to improve the lives of his future children.
This was the inspiration behind buying the Roloff Farm and converting it into a healthy environment for his children.
Matt previously worked in computer software sales, but by 2006, when “Little People, Big World” began airing on TLC, Matt moved on in his career and founded his own company, Direct Access Solutions. The company makes and markets accessibility kits for people with dwarfism, allowing them to live easier everyday lives, as well as making the hospitality industry more accessible to them.
Unfortunately, Matt’s endeavours didn’t provide enough of an income for his wife Amy and their four children. As a result, when the second season aired on TLC, Matt accepted a job as a software salesman with Amdocs, to provide additional income. In his free time, Matt continued to improve the farm and raise pumpkin crops.
Amy, formerly known as Amy Knight, was born on 17 September 1962 in Michigan, and fortunately had a form of Dwarfism known as achondroplasia, which never resulted in her experiencing too many difficulties, or requiring surgeries to enjoy a sustainably, comfortable lifestyle.
Amy graduated from Central Michigan University, and pursued a career in acting, and teaching.
Just posted a photo https://t.co/AaKOj3bvct
— Amy Roloff’s Little Kitchen (@amyroloffCF) July 19, 2022
Following the birth of her children, Amy became a full-time parent, but when she isn’t busy looking after her family, Amy uses what time she has available to help provide an income by teaching and coaching.
Amy is also a very active philanthropist, and since her rise to fame as the matriarch of the Roloff family, she used her celebrity status to raise awareness for the charities she supports.
Among the many close to Amy’s heart, she’s donated to the Dwarf Athletic Association of America, and her personal charity fund, the Amy Roloff Charity Foundation, supports the needs of children, and youths at-risk in Oregon, and even helped to fund an organisation that assists foster families and the children they have adopted.
Amy also actively supports low-income senior housing projects, as well as a homeless shelter specifically intent on keeping impoverished families together.
Although Dwarfism is a hereditary trait commonly transferred among the members of a family, Amy and Matt’s children don’t all possess the gene. Only Zach, their oldest child, has been diagnosed with this trait. Even though Jeremy is Zach’s twin, he’s of average height, and so are both Molly and Jacob. Thus, the premise of the show specifically focuses on Matt, Amy and Zach.
Since “Little People, Big World”s debut in 2006, the show’s received a warm welcome among its audiences, eventually rising to the success it celebrates today. The first season of the series was met with an average reception, and due to adequate but not too special ratings amongst its demographic viewers between the age of 18 to 48, the series earned its renewal for a second season, which was met with better enthusiasm, and the critical response of critics seemed more positive. Some critics accredited the appreciation of the show as being light-hearted, specifically praising the series’ approach of positively depicting people with Dwarfism, and being both educational and very informative.
However, not all critics agreed, as some insisted that the show’s documentation is a likeness not at all that different from voyeurism, even if it’s not in any way portrayed in a sexual manner.
Nonetheless, these same critics accredited the show for at least making the viewer and audiences feel good about observing the Roloff family, simply because it’s not too exploitative in nature.
Despite mixed receptions, the show continued to earn airtime on TLC, and in September of 2014, nearing the season finale, “Little People, Big World” earned a record number of views.
The episode in question, which documented the wedding ceremony between Zach and his long-term girlfriend, Audrey Botti, saw 2.3 million viewers tune in to watch as the couple exchanged vows. The following episode, and a season finale that concluded the wedding ceremony, raked in an average of 1.9 million viewers, both setting a record for the series and the specific time slot on TLC.
With the show’s popularity increasing, undoubtedly so d the Roloff Farm’s fame grew, and as the seasons rolled in, the amount of traffic visiting the farm also drastically increased. While this was good for business, the farm saw more guests than it could originally accommodate, unfortunately rousing the interest of the local authorities.
The parking space provided on the farm’s premises can host a couple of hundred vehicles, but during the first season’s debut, the farm attracted a total of 30,000 patrons.
As an alarming number of people came to visit and tour the Roloff farm, local authorities were forced to temporarily shut it down, at least until the facilities could accommodate that much traffic.
In addition to this, the Roloff’s neighbours and fellow residents of the area have complained about the constant gridlock caused by the increase of all traffic, and the constant scrutiny by the media due to an increased interest in Helvatia.
No Home Without Scandals
Of course, while the show is set up as light-hearted entertainment, it hasn’t gone without raising a few scandalous incidents, some of which were a shock for viewers to learn about. This includes everything from family disputes to somewhat criminalistic behaviour.
On somewhat of a lighter note, Matt had his driver’s licence revoked back in 2007 following an arrest on charges of driving under the influence. Fortunately, Matt was found not guilty of the DUI charges, but during the process of his arrest, Matt refused to take a blood-alcohol test, and since Matt previously admitted to driving under the influence during a diversion test in 2003, his licence was suspended for three years.
On a more serious, and sadder note, in 2020, Jacob came forward with allegations against a former producer of the show, Chris Cardamone, claiming that Cardamone groomed and sexually abused him. According to Jacob, the abuse took place during the early production of the show, starting in 2007 and lasting until 2010.
At the time, Jacob would have been between the ages of ten and thirteen.
Although Jacob didn’t share a detailed account of what happened, he insisted that the blame in no way whatsoever would fall on his family, but the fault remained with the victimiser and predator, which in this case was Cardamone.
In response to Jacob’s allegations, TLC said that they’re deeply saddened about hearing the news, and insisted that they will work in full co-operation with the authorities to bring the culprit to justice. Naturally, TLC has since completely cut ties with Chris, stating that their main priority will be to provide support for the Roloff family during this difficult time.
Moving on, the Roloff family has had their fair share of disputes, many on camera, and as viewers watched father and son, Matt and Zach, since Zach was a young boy, it’s clear that they have seen many ups and downs.
However, during recent episodes, it seems likely that their relationship has come to a point where everything could likely burn and never be recovered. Many fans, though, are questioning what exactly happened between them, and are wondering whether they might reconcile.
As many would know, Zach is no longer the young boy they first met on screen in 2006, he’s now a married, grown man with three of his own children. In recent years, Zach and his family decided to move away from the Roloff farm, much to the dismay of both Matt and the viewers. Though what intrigues most people is what led up to these changes.
Back in 2022, when Matt and his wife Amy, decided to separate ways and eventually divorced, Matt wanted to sell parts of the Roloff farm, specifically his personal portion, but Zach didn’t want this to happen and even offered to buy the northern end of the farm’s territory. This segment of the land played host to the famous castle playground, forest area, and the so-called cowboy town, which all became popular attractions.
However, Matt wanted to sell that specific land for a large sum, which Zach unfortunately, couldn’t afford, leading to the beginnings of a family feud that would see the family eventually split apart.
Because father and son could not reach a compromise, Zach decided to move away, taking his family with him, and leaving the family business to be managed by his father, Matt. Of course, this didn’t sit well with the patriarch of the Roloff family, who didn’t withhold his opinion on the matter.
In May of 2022, Zach stated in an interview with E!News that everything was fine with the family, though viewers of the show knew better.
— SoapDirt.com (@SoapDirtTV) March 13, 2022
During a June episode, that same year, Matt made his first attempt at reinstating the peace between him and Zach. The act, which involved returning a lawnmower, Matt hoped would start the process of convincing both himself and Zach to move on.
In a personal confessional, Zach stated in response that it was a nice initiative that his father undertook, but it would take more than that to restore the peace, and that their relationship remained tense. Certainly, things between them have changed, and it’s not quite the relationship it once was when Zach was younger.
Zach also confessed that his father’s decision not to reach a compromise was an insult that insinuated that he was incapable of taking care of the northern portion of the land, and that he, Zach, had reached the age where he will no longer simply submit to his father’s authority.
Fortunately, by the end of that episode, things seemed to have reached a positive turn of events. Zach invited Matt over to tour his new property, and Matt confessed that Zach’s progress in life made him feel like a proud father again.
While things seem to be improving, fans would have to stay tuned to see where Zach and Matt’s relationship goes next. Thus far, there have been no updates on the progress of their reconciliation, but fanatics and viewers can keep up with the latest season for updates.
Needless to say, however, things seem likely to be positive, and father and son might soon bury the hatchet.