The reality-television series “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding,” captured the imagination of American viewers when it was launched in 2012 by the TLC cable network. It featured the whimsical and nomadic life of gypsies, particularly their extravagant wedding customs. Millions of people were hooked, as the TV show not only shared the cultural traditions within this community, but also the larger-than-life family drama that occurred as they planned a wedding. Controversy followed the series from day one, and after six seasons, it was canceled by TLC, leaving fans wondering whatever happened to the stars of their favorite weekly show.
- 1 All about “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding”
- 2 Where are the stars of “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding”?
- 3 Complaints against “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding”
All about “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding”
Before the TV show became popular with American viewers, the British TV audience already had their fill of this type of show, because “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding” was just a spin-off from the highly successful documentary series called “Big Fat Gypsy Weddings.” The original series was launched in February 2010 on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, and the ratings peaked at over seven million an episode during its first season. The people behind the show wanted to recreate the same success in the US.
Producers had a hard time filming
The British producers, Firecracker Films, said that they initially had a hard time filming for the spin-off, as the gypsy communities in the US were very secretive with their traditions and way of living. During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the British executive producer, David Hernan, called the spin-off ‘The most extensive pre-production and production period I’ve been on.’ It took the production crew around a year to produce the first season, spending so much time on pre-production stretching to eight months, and the filming proper was done in five months.
A dressmaker made it possible for them to meet the American gypsies
The gypsy community in the US didn’t trust the producers, and if not for the help of a dressmaker named Sondra Chelli, they wouldn’t have a TV show to offer. The London-based TV producers met her through her agent in Virginia, as she was a Gypsy as well; at that time, she was just selling her skills as a dressmaker to the production. However, she offered more, and the producers couldn’t help but be amazed at what she’d done for the show. She not only introduced them to several American Gypsies, but vouched for them which made everything easier for the staff and crew. Basically, almost everyone who was featured in the show was introduced by the dressmaker.
The day the American version made its TV premiere
It was on 19 April 2012 when the American version debuted on the TLC cable network, and viewers were fascinated by the drama and culture surrounding this extraordinary community. They not only focused on gypsy weddings, but also explored what they did during baptisms and birthdays. The TV premiere was watched by close to 1.7 million viewers, and made it to the 12th spot on the Top 20 highest TV ratings list for that night for the entire cable TV network, and the third most watched on the TLC network.
Who were the gypsies shown on “My Big Fat American Wedding”?
According to the producers of the show, at the time they were filming for its first season, there were about a million Gypsies living in the US. They claimed that they worked primarily with American Gypsies, who were basically Romnichals, meaning that they were deeply rooted with the English Gypsies. Apparently, these Romnichal Gypsies started to move from England to the US back in 1850, and at that time became horse traders, since there was an increase in demand for the animal in the market.
It wasn’t renewed for its seventh season
After being on the TLC cable network for six seasons, “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding” was canceled. For some reason, the airing of the final season was already behind for almost two years, because the last episode of the fifth season was aired in September 2016 and the TV premiere for the sixth season only happened in October 2018. There were already some rumors that the TV show was canceled at that time, but it survived to see another season, which turned out to be the last one. The final episode was aired on 8 December 2018, after a total of 48 episodes aired. As a standard operating procedure, no explanation was offered for the reason behind its cancelation, however, the top culprit for a TV show to be axed would be a significant decrease in viewership ratings. There were two speculations that the fans discussed on social media – firstly that the TV show probably ran its course, and had nothing new to offer its viewers, and secondly that the controversies that came out in the show led to its demise.
Where are the stars of “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding”?
With all the drama that the cast members of “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding” went through, fans were curious about the status of the relationships that were explored in the show, particularly that of the marriages. Most of the brides were excited as they went through the courtship, the engagement, and the wedding proper. Here are some updates on some of the stars of the show:
Priscilla Lee Kelly – “14 and Looking for Mr. Right” from Season 1
During the second episode of the first season of the show, viewers were introduced to 14-year-old Priscilla Kelly, who was always cleaning their house and taking care of her younger brother. The show made it seem that she attended a party to shop for a potential boyfriend and future husband with her parent’s blessings. However, when she was featured in a two-part documentary in 2019, she said that everything that was shown on “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding” was distorted. Before they did the series, they were told that the reality-TV show would help break the stereotyping of gypsies, but the very opposite happened. Priscilla said that the episode title, “14 and Looking for Mr. Right,” was very misleading – the party that she attended that night was a Halloween Party. She said that the problem with reality-TV was that everyone thought that everything on it was real.
In 2015, she entered the world of professional wrestling and debuted in March 2015 with a new name, Gigi Dolin. She initially signed a contract with Major League Wrestling (MLW), but later switched to another management, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), and became part of a wrestling group called Toxic Attraction. She became the inaugural winner of the Shine Nova Championship in 2017, after battling it out with Candy Cartwright in the Finals, and by 2021, she was a two-time NXT Tag Team Champion, along with Jacy Jayne. Priscilla shared that it was her younger brother who inspired her to become a professional wrestler.
Eden and Elvis Boswell – “Don’t Mess with the Nest” from Season 2
It was in the third episode of the second season of “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding” that the young couple Eden and Elvis Boswell were featured. Eden was known as a Gorger girl in their community, a term used to refer to non-Gypsies. The two were about to get marry for a second time, as apparently they were married, had a daughter, and then divorced. Fans speculated that Elvis cheated on her, but others believed that it was because they had a difficult time together, as Eden wasn’t geared to be a Gypsy wife. Her mother-in-law said back then that Eden had to learn about their way of life, and that she would gladly teach her repeatedly just to get it right. She was against them re-marrying, and even threatened that if it ended badly again, it would be the last time that the Gorger girl would be part of their family. Most viewers remembered Eden as the bride with a 95-pound turquoise wedding gown.
So many things happened with the couple since their second wedding. In 2014, she be was a maid of honor at a friend’s wedding, and was accused of stealing the bride’s purse. It had money amounting to $1,000, which was allotted for the honeymoon celebration, along with the wedding ring. The theft allegedly happened before the wedding ceremony, and when the bride was looking for it, witnesses told her that they’d seen Eden holding the purse earlier. The police were called and after an investigation, it was found out that Eden handed the purse to Elvis who hid it in the back of their truck. When confronted, they denied the charges, but the purse was found by the police in their vehicle. The couple was charged by the High Point police with one count of felony larceny. At that time, Eden was eight-months pregnant so the judge lowered the bond amounting to $6,100, which was the value of the stolen property, while Elvis’ bond was increased, as it wasn’t his first foray into a criminal act. In 2015, her husband was back in jail and while he was serving time, she lost custody of her children to the state, and no one knew if she was able to get them back. When she was asked why they were taken from her, she gave a vague answer, told them that it was due to hearsay, but not about what.
Heather Small and Brandon Boswell – “A Love Worth Fighting For” from Season 3
The third season of “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding” gave the viewers a Romeo and Juliet type of love story in which the families of the couple had a long-standing feud, particularly the mothers. When Heather and Brandon told their families that they were marrying, both of their mothers rejected it, telling their children that nothing good would come out of it, and both spouted insults about the other family. However, nothing could dissuade the young couple from marrying. Heather went to her future mother-in-law’s house and told her that she would take care of Brandon properly. She was then asked to prove herself by cleaning the house, and must take the last name of Brandon, and she agreed, even knowing that her own mother would go ballistic.
Thank you for letting me celebrate your birthday weekend with you 🎉 I can’t wait to help make 23 the best year yet 😘 pic.twitter.com/ECYjscUnk0
— Brandon Boswell (@boswell_boz22) September 10, 2018
The wedding happened, and when the officiator announced the name of the new couple, Heather’s mom went mad. She insisted that their name be used instead, but waited for the reception to be over before she launched her attack. Eventually, family members from both sides tried to diffuse the situation, and the bride and groom told them that it was time to settle their differences. Heather said that it was good that they had their own place to live in, which was far from both sides. Many fans wondered if the wedding was real, because there were some people online who claimed to know Heather and Brandon and insisted that the marriage wasn’t real. Some even said that her social media account indicated that she was single. There were also allegations that Brandon wasn’t even a Boswell, to begin with, and that there wasn’t a feud between the families. With the non-disclosure agreement that the stars signed, fans could only speculate, as no one was willing to spill the beans, assuming there were some to spill!.
Cearia, Sam, and Kyle – “Gypsy-Gorger Love Triangle” from Season 6
The sixth season of the reality-TV show opened up with a complicated love story that had a soap opera vibe to it. Cearia, a 24-year-old Romnichal Gypsy from Aberdeen, Maryland, was in a relationship with a non-Gypsy boy named Sam. At that time, they were planning to marry, but her family especially her mother, wanted her to marry her cousin, Kyle, who was Cearia’s ex-boyfriend. Sam was a great provider not only to her but to her kids too who weren’t his biological children. Kyle was still very much in love with Cearia, and Sam would often complain that they were about to marry, but she continued seeing her cousin. She shared that in their community, it was encouraged to marry in the family to keep their bloodline stronger. She was having second thoughts, and was finally confronted by Kyle, to choose between him and Sam.
Eventually, Cearia chose to marry Sam, but on their wedding day, she was terribly disappointed. Sam was quite drunk, so had a hard time following the ceremony rituals. Some fans thought he was as high as a kite as well. For some reason, Kyle was given the duty to give the bride away, which disappointed Sam. When Sam continued drinking during the reception, and wasn’t attentive to the bride, Kyle asked Cearia to ditch her new husband, and they left the reception hall. Two weeks later, it was revealed that Ceara and Sam had separated, and the episode ended with Kyle and Cearia eating in a diner, along with her daughters.
Fans argued about the situation on social media, but many believed the whole thing wasn’t real. A fan even posted a screenshot of a Facebook conversation about it, in which a certain Kyle Dill Raudenbush left a comment agreeing that it wasn’t real, and that he was paid to do it. A quick search for his Facebook personal page in 2022 showed an older Kyle who was apparently in a relationship with an African-American woman. Some fans also pointed out that there was something odd with the narrative in their 2018 episode. Cearia and Sam were said to be together for six years, but she had a four-year-old daughter whom she claimed wasn’t Sam’s.
Complaints against “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding”
The reality-TV spinoff series, “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding,” garnered a huge chunk of cable TV American viewers for a while, but it also received complaints and criticism from day one. As with the original British series, it was highly criticized for being incredibly misleading. The gypsy communities, especially the Romani Gypsies, claimed that the show misrepresented them. Other activists for the protection of minority groups also lodged complaints, citing racism in its advertising, and stereotyping. They further said that the TV show missed the chance to correct the outdated notions of what really went on inside the gypsy community. Most of the American Gypsies were furious that the entire race was presented in a negative light, even if those that were featured in the show were willing participants.
Fans of the show continued to argue about its authenticity, until Priscilla Kelly from the first season wrote about her experience on her social media account in 2014, which had since been deleted. Apparently, she said that the producers told her not to worry about any wedding ceremonies since it wasn’t real and legal, as it was just something they needed to show on TV. She also claimed that during the first season, there were a few Gypsies featured, but she believed that from the second season onwards, most of the people featured were Gorgers. She shared that everything was sensationalized, because not all of them lived in trailers, and that she’d never seen a Gypsy girl who was married in an over-the-top wedding dress.
Entertaining, frustrating, factual or fictional? Take your pick….