What is “Little People, Big World”?
Premiering on TLC in March 2006, “Little People, Big World” is a reality show following the lives of the Roloff family. Most of the show’s episodes focus on Matt, Amy and Zach – the Roloff patriarchs and the only child of theirs who has inherited dwarfism – who spent many years living on a stunning farm in Oregon. In August 2010, TLC left viewers heartbroken with an announcement that the show would come to an end after season six, but the news was met with so much backlash that it’s on air to this day, and boasts over 23 seasons and almost 400 episodes.
The show has spawned three specials named “Breaking Down the Walls”, “Welcome to the Jungle”, and “Conquering Mount St. Helens”, as well as a spin-off series entitled “Little People, Big World: Wedding Farm” which premiered in November 2012. and lasted for six episodes. As the title insinuates, “Wedding Farm” followed Matt and Amy’s brief-lived foray into the wedding ceremony business.
Matt and Amy instantly said yes when TLC approached them in the early 2000s with ideas of developing a show on dwarfism, which would help educate the public about the condition. At the time, they had four children: Zach, Jeremy, Molly and Jacob. As mentioned earlier, Zach was the only child of Matt and Amy’s to inherit dwarfism, and is 4ft 4ins or 132cm tall. His fraternal twin, Jeremy, is of average height.
Roloff Farms, a beautiful 34-acre property also used to harvest and sell pumpkins, was the Roloff’s family home for decades. As the second-generation Roloffs reached adulthood, most of them moved away except Zach. Matt, who spent his early years undergoing risky operations in various hospitals, converted most of the farm for his children to enjoy, and eventually the public.
“Little People, Big World” is a refreshing change from scripted reality shows, often full of fake drama. Matt and Amy are both just 4ft 1in tall, and Zach is a mere three inches taller, so everyday activities are enough of a struggle for them without adding more conflict. Viewers are fascinated to see how the trio overcome the challenges their height brings, to just lead a happy and balanced life.
The Roloffs – Part One
Born in California in October 1961, Matt Roloff is a TV personality, author, farmer and motivational speaker. As a child, he needed 15 operations due to diastrophic dysplasia, the degenerative dwarfism condition with which he was born, and missed out on many normal childhood experiences.
— The US Sun (@TheSunUS) September 8, 2022
Matt’s parents, Ron and Peggy, are of average height, as is his older sister Ruth; all three have appeared on “Little People, Big World” at least once. However, Sam, Matt’s younger brother, also has diastrophic dysplasia and can’t walk without crutches. Joshua, the middle child, was born with severe heart malformations, and died in 1999 at the age of 34.
Matt and Amy met at a Little People of America convention in 1987. They walked down the aisle just months later, having fallen head over heels in love with each other. Their separation and divorce announcements – which came in March 2014 and June 2015 respectively – left their longtime fans stunned, as Matt and Amy appeared to be a solid couple by all accounts. Their divorce was finalized in 2016, but the couple are still on speaking terms, and there is no bad blood between them.
The Roloffs bought their farmhouse in 1990, and transformed it into Roloff Farm. From a volleyball court to a full-size medieval castle and a regulation soccer field, the farm boasts every possible amenity, and has been Matt’s passion projects for decade. The second- and third-generation Roloffs, especially the youngsters, all have fond memories of Roloff Farm, which now brings in tens of thousands of visitors a year, and earns them passive income. Matt and Amy bought an 80-acre property next to Roloff farm in 2010.
It’s possible that Matt was already on TLC’s radar thanks to his sporadic TV appearances. He played an extra in “Under the Rainbow”, and was one of the Ewoks in “Ewoks: The Battle for Endor”; his friend Martin Klebba is an actor with dwarfism, known for his work in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” saga.
Prior to appearing on TV, Matt was a computer programmer for prestigious Silicon Valley companies including Altos Computers Systems, and sold systems software to Fortune 500 companies. He relocated to Oregon to work for Sequent Computer Systems in 1990, enjoying a much quieter and healthier work environment, and coinciding with Amy’s first pregnancy. He currently runs Direct Access Solutions, selling accessibility products for little people.
Our new rescue dog Daisy fits in great with Chris and I I just love her. 🤗. But she doesn't realize this little woman…
Amy Jo Roloff was born in Michigan in September 1962, and is a motivational speaker, baker, and author, who is known for her bubbly and optimistic approach to life. She and her three siblings named Katherine, Cyndi and Roger, were raised mainly by their housewife mother Patricia, while their father worked at the Ford Motor Company.
Born with achondroplasia, Amy attended Franklin High School, then graduated with a business degree from Central Michigan University. Unlike Matt, she was totally new to the small-screen when “Little People, Big World” premiered; since then, she’s given interviews on “Oprah”, “Good Morning America”, and other popular shows.
Amy published “Short and Simple Family Recipes”, her first book, in 2012. The cookbook included 75 original family recipes passed down from generation to generation. Four years after publishing her first cookbook, Amy opened her Little Kitchen, an online bakery with thousands of content customers. “Little People Big Values” and “A Little Me” are her other works.
The TV star also has an altruistic side. In 2009, she founded the Amy Roloff Charity Foundation, which operated for 12 years, and helped disadvantaged youth and disabled people. Other causes close to her heart include low-income senior housing, homeless shelters, and the Dwarf Athletic Association of America.
As mentioned, Amy is also a passionate motivational speaker. She’s been a keynote speaker for the Women’s Power Launch, a Lakes Health Conference in 2010, the Empowering Women in Business Conference in 2015, and a Dr. James Borland Convocational Series for Adrian College in 2019. She also participates in Get Motivated, a business seminar aimed at all ages, that helps its audience delve into the entrepreneurial world.
Amy and Matt have overcome many challenges together, amongst them a 2009 lawsuit from a visitor of Roloff Farm, who claimed that the famous couple had neglected safety procedures. After a harrowing four-year legal battle, the Roloffs decided to settle out of court.
Many people wondered what would become of Roloff Farm when they announced their split: Matt purchased Amy’s part during divorce proceedings, and Amy bought herself a new place. The fate of Roloff Farms Salsa, their pumpkin salsa company, remains ambiguous, but Matt and Amy are believed to be running the business together.
For now, Matt hasn’t been romantically linked to anyone new. Amy tied the knot with Chris Marek, her long-term boyfriend, in 2021, in an intimate wedding ceremony held on Roloff Farm.
The Roloffs – Part Two
One of the world’s most famous little people, Zach Roloff was born in May 1990, and has been steadily gaining popularity since his adolescence. He’s the only second-generation Roloff who still appears regularly on “Little People, Big World” and for now has expressed no desire to move out of the family farm.
In summer 2015, Zach began a new chapter in his life by marrying his girlfriend Tori. They welcomed children Jackson and Lilah, who both have dwarfism, in May 2017 and November 2019. Before focusing on motherhood and photography, Tori worked as a kindergarten teacher, while Zach is a coach for local youth soccer teams and also lends a hand at the family’s pumpkin farm.
Jeremy, Zach’s twin brother, is also famous thanks to his affable personality and warm sense of humor. He studied at Portland Community College but transferred to the Brooks Institute of Photography, in Santa Barbara, at the age of 21. He began working as a camera operator at Human Not Hollywood Productions a year later. Other jobs include a seven-year stint at Cloudless Weddings; during this time, he studied a Bachelor of Arts degree in photography, met his future wife Audrey Mirabella Botti, and walked down the aisle with her after four years.
Eventually, his appearances in “Little People, Big World” became sporadic. With the birth and first birthday of their child, Ember Jean, Jeremy and Audrey made the difficult decision to leave the show. In January 2020, they welcomed their second child, Bode James. Instead of buying part of Roloff Farms, he and Audrey have focused on making a name for themselves in the creative industry.
Zach and Audrey launched a podcast in November 2018, in which they discuss their personal life, interview entrepreneurs, and more. “A Love Letter Life”, their relationship self-help book, became an instant hit, and a New York Times Bestseller and was followed by “Creative Love: 10 Ways to Build a Fun and Lasting Love”. As for Molly and Jacob, they prefer to stay out of the limelight, and there is little public information available on their lives.
Tragedy struck the family in August 2022, as Matt’s father Ron passed away at the age of 84. The TV star penned a touching tribute, describing Ron as an “amazing husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and inspiration to many”. Ron died surrounded by loved ones, including his wife of 63 years – many of the Roloff family members were reading his favorite Bible verses.
Ron died with 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. In the words of his son, “What a man and a life well lived! Thanks to all the grandchildren that were able to race to his bedside and hold his hands with mom and I in his final moments here on Earth!”.
If by any chance you’ve run out of “Little People, Big World” episodes to watch, there are plenty of similar shows out there. For example, “The Little Couple” is another TLC reality series, that premiered in May 2009. Featuring businessman Bill Klein and neonatologist Dr. Jennifer Arnold – who were born with skeletal dysplasia – the show ran for 14 seasons, and was quietly cancelled after its last episode aired in September 2019.
Bill and Jennifer were 4ft (122cm) and 3ft 2ins (96.5cm) tall respectively. When Jen completed her masters of medical education and pediatric residency at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, they relocated to Houston from New York City. Their TV debut came in “Little People: Just Married”, a one-hour TLC special, whereas “The Little Couple” started off documenting Bill and Jennifer’s pregnancy attempts and the building of their customized home.
Bill opened Rocky&Maggie in Rice Village, Houston, in February 2012. The store, managed by Jennifer’s mother Judy, was named after the couple’s pet dogs, and was the focus of season five along with the adoption process of their son Will. In October 2013, they adopted Zoey; both children have dwarfism.
NOUVELLE SAISON | De nouvelles aventures pour Will et Zoey et de gros défis pour Jen et Bill! 👨👩👧👦📺 Le petit couple saison 9, ce mardi 21 janvier à 19h sur MOI ET CIE!
Posted by MOI ET CIE on Thursday, January 9, 2020
Jennifer shocked the world by announcing her stage 4 choriocarcinoma diagnosis in December 2013. The rare form of cancer was caused by a non-viable pregnancy that had occurred three months earlier. Despite the emotional upheaval and shock, Jennifer agreed to document her cancer journey. From baptisms to cancer treatments to birthday parties, the show’s sixth season was jam-packed with events.
“The Little Couple” fans will be pleased to know that Discovery Communications renewed the show’s trademark in March 2022, and a new season was also teased on social media. Jennifer and Bill’s legal battle with producers likely led to the show’s lengthy postponement; in June 2016, LMNO Cable Group hit Discovery Communications with a $7 million lawsuit, claiming that Discovery’s accountants hid hundreds of thousands of dollars in embezzled money by falsifying records.
The case was eventually settled, but Bill and Jennifer intervened in May 2017, believing themselves “entitled to a portion of LMNO’s contingent compensation in The Little People”, as well as a portion of Discovery’s “adjusted gross revenues from certain forms of exploitation of the Program.” Hopefully, Bill and Jennifer settle their legal woes, and return to the small screen soon.