By way of such details, the show often claims to be giving the audience exclusive access to arcane rituals that will illuminate Traveller and Roma life.
Problem being, they aren’t arcane or revealing at all.
But a quick Google search will reveal that many in the Traveller and Roma communities were outraged by these aspects of the show when it initially aired in Britain.
Traveller Jill Smith told News of the World, “The programme made out that all gypsy girls are forced to leave school at nine so they can stay at home cleaning until they marry. A few months ago, I interviewed Rita Mullin, vice president of development at TLC, about the channel’s ethos.
In addition to failing to clearly explain the differences between the two groups’ origins—Travellers are ethnic Irish, while the Roma came from Eastern Europe (and originally, historians think, India)—there is no explanation of why tradition dictated for centuries that they live nomadic lifestyles, or of how rampant prejudice against them evolved over generations.A 2006 article in the journal Comparative Economic Studies noted that the Roma’s “unemployment rate is 100 percent in some rural areas” and still high in heavily populated areas, while The Economist has reported that “West Europeans …tend to believe that Roma migrants are responsible for an epidemic of pickpocketing, shoplifting, mugging—and worse [crimes].”None of this seems to matter to Channel 4 or TLC.For instance, the narrator teases, “[T]he secrecy behind a Traveller communion is revealed for the first time”—but there isn’t much that’s secretive; it’s more or less a young girl in a too-big, too-ornate dress, followed by a large family party.Or “another important Gypsy [marriage] custom is the cake-cutting”—one which, last I checked, goes for most modern weddings as well.