You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding

Aside from consciously evoking a popular movie title and giving headline writers fits, "My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding" is just TLC's latest subcultural oddity -- presented, much like "Sister Wives," as the TV equivalent of a carnival sideshow.

Narrator: Ellen K.

Aside from consciously evoking a popular movie title and giving headline writers fits, “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding” is just TLC’s latest subcultural oddity — presented, much like “Sister Wives,” as the TV equivalent of a carnival sideshow. Predicated on a U.K. concept, the show ostensibly seeks to be respectful in tone, but awkwardly winds up immersed in the “drama” of mid-teenage girls being showcased and married off, which can’t help but feel creepy. Then again, like a lot of TLC fare, being creeped out is the whole gist of its appeal.

“It’s a secret community,” the narration states near the outset, promising “unprecedented access” to “the mysterious world of American Gypsies,” living in places like West Virginia and Georgia.

Yet while the subject matter calls for a detached, almost anthropological view — as in “My, what strange habits some primates have” — “MBFAGW” (can’t wait for the promotional caps) tries to have its wedding cake, as it were, and eat it. Rooted in reality-TV conventions, the episodes subtly attempt to build tension around the elaborate parties the Gypsies throw to wed or display their eligible daughters, as well as the challenges faced by Boston-based dressmaker, Sondra Celli, who creates lavish gowns for these events.

While the premiere features 17-year-old Shyanne, who is about to marry a lad to whom she became engaged after two encounters, the second episode even more uncomfortably centers on Priscilla, 14, who is being trotted out to find husband material at a Halloween costume party. Her father, known as “Pat Baby,” sounds like he’s going to shed tears of joy when he sees her dressed like what resembles a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.

As distasteful as much of this is, the show would be on considerably steadier ground if it didn’t offer comments buying into these situations, like noting Priscilla is “looking stunning in her flamboyant dress.”

Although the Gypsy girls are kitted-out provocatively, they make a point of noting they are expected to remain virgins until their wedding, while Gypsy boys are apparently welcome to cat around with non-Gypsy girls, who are perceived as being willing and available.

Viewers, of course, are supposed to be moderately horrified, which is precisely the sort of strong emotion and morbid curiosity into which TLC hopes to tap. And while that strategy has worked pretty well in the past, in the process, the channel sacrificed its right to wear a white dress a long, long time ago.

My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding

TLC, Sun. April 29, 10 p.m.

Production: Produced by Firecracker Films. Executive producers, David Heyman, Mark Soldinger; series producer, Mike Warner; producer-director-camera, Dominic Hill, Sam Roubicek; editor, Craig Nicholls; music, Ian Livingston. 60 MIN.

Cast: Narrator: Ellen K.

More TV

  • Game of Thrones Finale

    'Game of Thrones'' Celebrity Fans Weigh in on Series Finale: 'It Was Perfect'

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not keep reading if you have not seen the series finale of “Game of Thrones,” titled “The Iron Throne.”  The series finale of “Game of Thrones” was one for the history books, whether you loved it or hated it. Fans the world over took to Twitter to share their thoughts about the [...]

  • ‘Game of Thrones’: 8 Shocking Moments

    ‘Game of Thrones’: 8 Shocking Moments From the Finale

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not keep reading if you have not seen the finale of “Game of Thrones.” Well, that’s it. After the “Game of Thrones” finale, many of us will likely emulate Jon Snow and just retire North of the Wall. It was billed as one of the biggest events in TV history, and showrunners [...]

  • Front row: CBS THIS MORNING co-hosts

    CBS Hurls New Anchor Team Into TV's Morning-News Wars

    News Team: Assemble. CBS News plans to hurl a new anchor squad into TV’s morning-news wars Monday when a different trio – Gayle King, Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil –  takes the helm at “CBS This Morning.” The A.M. effort that has won critical plaudits by focusing on harder news topics, like international affairs and [...]

  • Dutch FilmWorks Moves into International Sales

    Dutch Film Works Moves into International Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

    A major new international sales outfit is coming to market. Dutch Film Works (DFW), one of the largest movie distributors in the Benelux region, is moving into film and TV sales. DFW general manager Angela Pruijssers will spearhead the sales effort alongside Charlotte Henskens, who will join from Amsterdam-based Fortissimo Films, where she is director [...]

  • 'Game of Thrones' Series Finale Details

    'Game of Thrones' Series Finale Details Reportedly Leak Online

    Who will survive the finale of “Game of Thrones”? Some savvy watchers of the HBO series might have a clue heading into Sunday night’s episode after a detailed description of the final installment reportedly leaked online. [Note: This post does not contain any “Game of Thrones” spoilers.] A spokesperson said HBO had no comment. While [...]

  • ‘Hitsville: The Making of Motown’ Acquired

    ‘Hitsville: The Making of Motown’ Acquired by Showtime for U.S.

    Polygram Entertainment, Universal Music Group’s film and television division, along with Capitol Music Group, Motown Records and Fulwell 73 announced today that “Hitville: The Making of Motown” has been acquired by Showtime for release in North America with plans for a fall premiere, and Altitude for theatrical release in the UK and Ireland. The feature-length [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content