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National Geographic's American Gypsies follows a family of New York gypsies, named the "John's", as they, like many families, love and support one another, while trying to remain loyal to their traditions.
Definitely an interesting watch, if not guilty pleasure
"My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding" has a title that is as garish as the contents of the show itself. A documentary-style television show which is a spin-off from "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding", its UK-based equivalent, it chronicles the celebrations of different traveler groups distributed throughout the Southern United States.
Despite having a wedding theme in the title, the show often includes sub-plots or main plots revolving around other celebrations - a birthday party, Halloween party, Thanksgiving family reunion, etc. Despite not being limited only to weddings, all the celebrations have 3 things in common - over-the-top events, gypsies and their culture.
Through the camera lens we are able to delve deep into the culture of the gypsies. The unbiased narrator offers bits of history, such as origins of some of the different traveler groups. Their lifestyle is explored for much of the episode, describing a life that seems virtually unchanged for hundreds of years - the men work, the women stay at home and take care of the household, women drop out of school at 12 and marry often between 14-16 years of age, no dating allowed. Men often propose to their "girlfriends" the second or third time they meet.
Because gypsies are not allowed to date without supervision, nor talk to gypsies of the opposite sex in a normal environment, parties are the one place where they finally engage in the gypsy social milieu. Consequently each gypsy has more makeup, sparkles, and revealing outfit than the next. Despite the provocative outfits and dancing, it is revealed that this culture has a "look but don't touch" policy, far more conservative than one often originally suspects.
When the gypsies finally get engaged, the celebrations are intense. The weddings are known for being as over-the-top as you can imagine, dresses that cost 50 thousand dollars or so (the dressmaker is interviewed during each episode), with giant celebrations and horse-drawn carriages. After the ceremony the bride and groom live the rest of their days in a small trailer and save up for their own children's weddings.
This show has great entertainment value in not only revealing the fascinating culture of Romani gypsies, but in that it often skirts train wreck territory. The narrator and cameramen do a wonderful job presenting an unbiased portrayal of the culture, although the narrator does slip in some deadpan comedy at times. Overall the series is fun, intriguing, and without doubt ridiculous at times. Enjoy it for the entertainment value and try not to take it too seriously.
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