The American reality television series, “Little People, Big World,” has become a way for many to understand what life is like for those with dwarfism and their families. Matt and Amy Roloff along with their son, Zach, are dwarves while the rest of their children are of average size. The show premiered on 4 March 2006, and millions of people have witnessed their struggles and triumphs over the years. TLC aired its 22nd season in 2021, and for the show to have lasted this long meant that the story of the Roloffs continues to be of interest to the viewing public. The absence of the couple’s other children also had people wondering why they left, and what they have been up to since then.
About the show, the cast
The Roloff family appeared in the Discovery Channel documentary film, “Little People, Big Dreams,” in 2005. The following year, they starred in the TV series, “Little People, Big World,” produced by Gay Rosenthal Productions for TLC. Matt said, ‘We don’t claim to be representing all little people…But this is without a doubt the most in-depth look at dwarfism.’
Are you ready for a new episode of #LPBW? Tune in…NOW! 😯
They were initially filmed for seven months to capture the challenges they faced in living a ‘normal’ life. The spokesperson of the non-profit organization Little People of America (LPA), Dan Okenfuss, was hoping that the series would help others have a better understanding of little people, as they can be subjected to discrimination and ridicule. Matt said his children need to be strong, as people do a double-take or stare at them too long, and sometimes even call them awful names because of the way they look.
Dwarfism is characterized by short stature, because of a genetic or medical condition; the average height of an adult is four feet, or less than 1.5 meters. Matt has a rare form of dwarfism called diastrophic dysplasia, which is a genetic disorder that leads to joint pain and deformity, so his fingers, hips, and knees do not work properly and he has to use crutches to walk, but he’s still very capable. His ex-wife, Amy, has the most common form of dwarfism called achondroplasia, which is characterized by a large head, average-size torso, and short limbs.
All their parents are of average size.
Matthew James “Matt” Roloff met Amy Jo Knight in 1987, at an LPA convention and they had a relatively short courtship, as they only saw each other three times before he proposed to her. He’s a dreamer and wanted adventure, while Amy’s the practical one and wanted security, providing a great balance for him. Amy’s parents brought her up to be independent. Her dream, when she was growing-up was to be a mother, and her greatest fear when she eventually had kids was that they would somehow be taken them away from her, because she’s a little person.
When the show started, Matt and Amy had been married for 18 years and had four kids: 15-year-old twins, Zack and Jeremy, 11-year-old Molly, and eight-year-old Jacob; only Zack has dwarfism, the same type as his mother. Growing up with siblings, curiously, especially with a twin of average size, can be tough, as he realized that some things that were simple or easy for them to do were a cause of frustration for, him like shopping for clothes or playing the sport he likes.
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However, he has learned to accept that, and he wanted people to know that it’s okay to be different. Amy said they were worried about how their son was going to be depicted in the show, but they were hoping that he would ‘acquire some of the resilience and coping strategies that sometimes come with a life like theirs.’
The Roloff farm
The family lived at their 34-acre farm in the unincorporated community of Helvetia, Oregon, just 15 miles, 25 kms west of Portland. The couple bought it in 1990, and it consisted of an old farmhouse, overgrown peach orchard, and rundown barn. They successfully transformed it into not just a working farmhouse, but also a magical place for children, eventually spanning 100 acres. It has a huge pirate ship, castle, western town with underground tunnels, and treehouses geared for little people, but also accessible to those of average size. More structures were added over the years, including an inground pool and a soccer field.
When Matt was very young, he spent years in a hospital and went through several surgical procedures, so he could only imagine a childhood that was fun and full of adventures. He wanted his children and those with dwarfism to play in a wonderland like they’ve built. He was able to afford this by selling high-end software systems for many years, saying that being a little person didn’t stop him from going after his dreams; he just had to work a little faster, harder and smarter.
Long before Matt’s family appeared on the series, the Roloff Farms was open to the public every October from Friday to Sunday. In 2006, after “Little People, Big World” aired, it was said that as many as 30,000 people came during the pumpkin season, to see its many attractions and buy their pumpkins, and it’s since become a popular tourist destination, due to the popularity of the show. Private 30-minute tours are offered all year long, with Matt, Amy, Jeremy, or Zack serving as a guide.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in 2021, the private tours are canceled until further notice, for the safety of all.
22 Seasons and counting
The reality TV series received generally good reviews from critics, and those in their community, as it showed a positive depiction of the realities of dwarves without being exploitative. It had an average of 74 million viewers each year since it premiered in 2006. However, TLC canceled the show after six seasons but aired several specials after that.
Matt and Amy were back for the six-episode spin-off series, “Little People, Big World: Wedding Farm” in 2012 as they ventured into the wedding business. They renovated their century-old barn into a wedding venue, that’s both rustic and elegant. It couldn’t have come at a better time, as they celebrated their 25th anniversary.
The original series was eventually renewed for a seventh season, and more followed. In 2017, after TLC aired its 298th episode, the Guinness Book of World Records officially recognized “Little People, Big World” for “The Most Episodes of a Family-Focused Reality Television Show.”
Matt said he’s humbled by this accomplishment but their biggest reward has been breaking through the stigma about people with dwarfism. He’s hoping that little people and those who look different would be viewed in a more inclusive manner by society. Amy has been grateful to those who have been part of their journey through the show.
The 22nd season was aired from May to August in 2021. So far, there has been no release date for the 23rd season, but neither there has there been an announcement of its cancelation.
Keeping up with the Roloff family
Matt and Amy divorced in 2017, after being married for 27 years; many were surprised when the two announced in March 2014 that they were separating. They had been having problems several years prior, but weren’t ready to give up on their marriage yet. They even went through marriage counseling for a time, and only stopped when there seemed to be no more hope for them.
Matt revealed that he never felt at home in his own home, and Amy said that they never learned how to live together. He had been staying in their guesthouse since November 2013 until Amy left. Both were satisfied with how their assets were split between them.
Looking back, some said this had been inevitable considering the two differed on their views towards commitment. Matt wrote in his book, “Little Family, Big Values: Lessons in Love, Respect and Understanding for Families of Any Size,” that Amy’s the type of person who’s committed to a fault, while he considers commitment, with some exemptions, as flexible and negotiable. He added that her indecisiveness had also been a source of tension between them.
Amy and Chris
After filing for a divorce in 2015, her friend brought Amy to a singles mixer to get her back into the dating scene, where she met Chris Marek, a real estate agent. Weeks later, Chris invited her for a ride on his motorcycle; they hit it off and started dating, Chris making it Facebook official in December 2017.
After dating for three years, they became engaged in 2019. Amy, 57, and Chris, 59, voiced their wedding vows in front of a gazebo at the Roloffs Farms, on 28 August 2021, with family and friends in attendance.
It was said that she sold her part of the farm to Matt for $667,000 in 2019, and bought a five-bedroom house for $588,500, but continued to work at the farm.
Matt and Caryn
Caryn Chandler has been an employee at the farm since 2011, and she worked her way up to be farm manager before she and Matt started dating in 2017. When asked if they have plans to get married, Matt said, ‘Our grand plan right now is to stay committed, stay in love, go to Arizona and spend a tremendous amount of time together,’ and when they are in Portland, they will see each other a lot. There were some reports that they were moving in together, and true enough, he’s making a new house plan for Caryn and himself. Based on his Instagram posts, he’s having the time of his life with her, whom he calls his best friend, and ‘the one who makes me enjoy, smile and laugh about life everyday.’ He’s also working on several projects for the farm.
When Matt announced via his Facebook page that he’s dating Caryn, it attracted mixed reactions. Some were happy for him, while others slammed him, as she’s a longtime employee and it led to speculation that she’s the reason why he and Amy divorced. It didn’t help that there were reports Joseph Chandler, Caryn’s husband of 20 years, filed for divorce in 2012, and it was stated in the 2013 court documents that their 14-year-old son wasn’t allowed to set foot on the farm, and that both their kids weren’t to appear on the reality show.
In Amy’s book “A Little Me,” published in 2019, it was indicated that she was shocked when she learned it was Caryn he was dating, and devastated that it might have started back when they were still married. She recalled a time when Matt has been spending more time at the tavern, and that Caryn seemed to be around more often as well. She said she saw photos and messages that were inappropriate for two people who supposedly just worked together and were still married to other people.
Amy wanted to make things clear, and said, ‘It’s not that I’m sad that Matt has found someone, I think it is more about how it evolved, how it happened, how it began. I think that’s what hurt.’ However, for the sake of her children and grandchildren, she remained respectful, as she would like her kids to be happy for both their parents.
In July 2015, Zach, 25, married Victoria Elizabeth “Tori” Patton, 24, after being engaged for a year. They met at his family farm, and have been together since 2010, after he found the courage to ask her out. She must have made an impression on him ,as Zach’s focus was on soccer most of the time. He proposed to her after four years of dating, and they were married at the farm in July 2015 – Tori said she knew from the beginning that he was the one for her.
They have two kids, Jackson and Lilah Ray. Their son has dwarfism, and it broke Tori’s heart as he went through surgery to fix the bowing of his legs. She suffered a miscarriage six weeks into her pregnancy in March 2021, and shared this sad news on Instagram as a form of self-healing as she felt she had to acknowledge their ‘sweet angel baby.’
They’ve been blessed with another baby on the way, and the doctor’s advice is that the baby is healthy; the family moved to their new home in Washington in October 2021. Zach believed that the reason their relationship remained strong is that they are both good communicators.
When it comes to the show, they said that they would stop being on TV the minute it’s not fun anymore. ‘I think for us, we enjoy sharing our lives and for right now our kids get along great with the crew and it’s fun.’
His marriage to Audrey Mirabella Botti in September 2014 was featured in the eighth season finale, and over two million people watched it, making the episode No.1 on cable in its timeslot. They have three children: Ember Jean, Bode James, and Radley Knight. In 2018, Jeremy announced via Instagram that he and his family would be leaving the show, to pursue other endeavors.
They’ve authored two books: “A Love Letter Life: Pursue Creatively. Date Intentionally. Love Faithfully” (2019) and “Creative Love: 10 Ways to Build a Fun and Last Love” (2021). The couple released an anniversary journal entitled “Memories of Us.” Their website, “Beating 50 Percent,” was about improving Christian marriages.
They hosted a podcast called “Behind the Scenes” in which they talked about life, faith, family, and business; in January 2021, he shared that it has eight million downloads.
In June 2019, Audrey opened up on her struggles in her marriage to Jeremy on Instagram. She said that in the pursuit of their goals, ‘It’s robbing our joy, stealing our peace, and hindering our ability to love.’ He believed that the reason they were having a hard time was that they had got out of their weekly habit of expressing their thoughts and communicating, due to their busy schedule. They worked on their problems by looking hard at the lifestyle they wanted, and what they were doing to live it.
She tied the knot with Joel Silvius in August 2017, and they moved to Spokane, Washington State. As she lived far away, and has regular work as a senior accountant for a big company, Molly rarely made an appearance in the show.
"Little People, Big World" Star Molly Roloff Is Married http://dlvr.it/PcsLHG
People were updated on how she is or what has been happening in her life through the Instagram posts of her family, such as when Zach congratulated her and Joel when they bought a new house.
The youngest child of the Roloffs left the series in 2016, saying that he would never come back. Jacob said in his Instagram post that the family being filmed was not his family, but ‘the Roloff characters.’ Also, the storylines were drawn up for the sake of ratings, and it’s not good for the happiness and health of his family. In December 2020, his revelation was much more shocking as he said, ‘As a child, after what I realize now was a long grooming process, I was molested by an executive field producer for “Little People, Big World,” Chris Cardamone.’
After he posted this, his mom expressed her love for him. His wife, Isabel Sophia Rock, whom he married in September 2019, said she’s proud of him. TLC issued a statement saying they were troubled by this serious allegation, and would co-operate with the authorities, apparently so far without result.