TLC has a bit of an obsession with people of smaller stature. Little People, Big World and The Little Couple both focused on people who lived normal lives despite the challenges that came with their size. Then there was Little Chocolatiers, which combined TLC's love of the littler people with all of the zany antics that made bakery shows like Cake Boss so popular.
Therefore, I could only imagine the absolute glee that "the little people finders" at TLC (yes, I am sure that is definitely a job) felt when they heard about Bri and Brad. Bri and Brad are two primordial dwarf siblings who clock in at only 18 and 35 pounds respectively. Unlike traditional dwarfism, where an individual stops growing after a number of years, primordial dwarfs are born small and remain small for their entire lives. From first glance, the two siblings look like infants -- despite the fact that they are both in their early twenties.
While I was originally pretty skeptical about Big Tiny, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with the series, mostly because the show feels like less of a reality series and more like a documentary about the lives of these two small siblings. Bri, the older (and physically smaller) sibling, a 23 year old part time college student, enjoys the common experiences that many college students her age do -- chatting with her friends in the cafeteria, watching college basketball games, and attending the occasional party. While we are supposed to think that Bri's life is as common as it can get, it's not hard to see that Bri's life is far more challenging than the series really suggests. Physically, Bri's air passageways in her lungs are narrow, and it causes her to have a high pitched, raspy voice - a condition that is both physically painful and emotionally draining, as many people can not understand her when she speaks -- the series puts her dialogue in captions on the bottom of the screen when she speaks.
Bri's slightly larger younger brother Brad is less physically challenged than Bri, and even has a cheerleading scholarship to his college -- a big deal for anyone but a huge deal for anyone under 35 pounds. Brad's got cheerleading skills that rival any one of the Bring It On extras, and at the risk of sounding unbelievably cheesy, watching him do backhand springs with ease is pretty inspiring.
What TLC did right with Big Tiny is that it painted a pretty realistic portrayal of what life is like for these two small siblings. Yes, they are able make friends, attend college, and complete many of the same tasks that an average sized person would, but they do struggle with some of the things that many people take for granted. A pre-barbeque shopping trip, for example, is a struggle for Bri and Brad, as even a bag of sugar seems enormous and much too heavy for them to lift. Thankfully, the two have a great support system in their completely awesome mom. Rather than doing everything for them, Mom encourages Bri and Brad to do the challenging stuff - even if it means taking a bit longer to accomplish a task. She's happy to assist them in any way she can, but she knows that it's more important for the two to feel confident in themselves. We could only hope for more mothers like her on some other TLC shows (uhm, Toddlers & Tiaras?).
While Big Tiny is definitely a well-done reality show, perhaps one of the flaws with Big Tiny is that it is too honest to be particularly entertaining. You are watching regular people go about their regular lives, only these particular regular people happen to have dwarfism. That means that we see ten minute food shopping clips, which isn't a ton of fun for anyone, even if it is supposed to be motivating to see Bri finally lift a bag of sugar and place it into her cart (it sort of is, actually).
Big Tiny may not be must-watch TV, but it's definitely worth checking out once or twice. The series would have worked better as a single documentary special, if only to avoid the eventual shenanigans that the series will stoop to in order to rake in the ratings. Turning Big Tiny into a trashy reality show would be a mistake, and I'm hoping that the series continues with its quiet exploration of Bri and Brad's real lives -- that means no dressing them up like cowboys and having them ride their Chihuahuas, which I honestly would not put past TLC after Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
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