My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

Posted: February 2, 2011 by curlyshirley in Telly
Tags: , , , , , ,

In a nutshell: OMG. Did you see the size of that dress?

Popcorn rating: 3/5

After a one-off taster whetted the nation’s appetite last year, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding is back. And this time around we have a whole series offering the gods of the tellybox unprecedented access to the secret world of travellers – what’s not to love? Tiaras, tans, Cinderella wedding carriages, wedding gowns which weigh so much they leave scars, perma-tanned children dancing like Beyonce and dressed (let’s be frank) like cheap hookers – it’s got it all, a big, fat, twinkling buffet for the eyes on Channel 4 every Thursday at 9pm.

But, be warned, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’s also a bit of a lie. See, it’s not just about the glitz of a gypsy wedding. Not really. That’s only the hook. Slowly, slowy, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding is sneaking in some poignant truths about life as a romany nowadays –  last night’s show was a case in point.

18-year-old Lizzie is obviously an articulate, bright young girl. As the eldest daughter in a gypsy family, her life revolves around cleaning, childcare and obeying her parents – but she’s getting married, after which her life will revolve around cleaning and obeying her new husband, till she has a child, when it will revolve around childcare too. Lizzie can read and write, just, after leaving school around 11 years old. She doesn’t really see the point in education, after all, gypsy girls are never going to be doctors or teachers. So long, as she can read what the bleach bottle says, what more reading does she need?

Of course, it’s a different situation for the boys in her family. For the men, the freedom is relatively unbounded  – and in case you weren’t sure how that works, here’s Lizzie’s 16-year- old male cousin guzzling booze and living it up in his own caravan, with mum next door still doing the laundry.  Though, I wonder, would he be so carefree  if he were a gay man, or wanted to go to university, or just wasn’t  into the whole “lad” thing.

No, it doesn’t look good for the equality movement in My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, but then nobody’s really complaining. She might struggle to read Tolstoy, but Lizzie has her eyes wide open. She is fully aware of her place in this patriarchal society and she, it seems, is happy with her lot. Most of the time.

The dripping poignancy is well timed too; we are a few programmes into My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding by now and surely even the most avid fan is getting slightly jaded with conversations about six-year-olds getting spray tanned and OMG, did you see the size of that pink monstrosity? The one with the fairy lights? Well, I am anyway. Even the “grabbing” custom unveiled last night only mildly perturbed me. I didn’t bother to tweet about it.

Which brings me to my next point. See, there’s a big, fat question mark hanging over My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding with one word tagged on – and that is Exploitation. Do you think the travellers really knew what they were letting themselves in for with this show? Would you, if you were their age? They all seem awfully young to me. Even if they are (as has been argued) getting paid a huge wad of cash, the extreme focus of the series on one small section of the travelling community is not likely to either inform or change opinions. I doubt it will anyway.

Reviewer: Curlyshirley

  1. Berni says:

    Totally agree shirls xx

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