Back in 2009 my wife happened to stumble upon a new reality series on The Learning Channel (that’s TLC in TV lingo).
The Little Couple.
The plot of the show follows and chronicles the lives of Jennifer Arnold and Bill Klein. A newly married couple (of over 3 years now I believe) in their mid 30’s who live in Houston, Texas.
Jennifer is a neonatal physician at Children’s Hospital at the Texas Medical Center while Bill (along with a business partner) owns a call center in New York State.
Both Bill and Jennifer suffer from a bone growth disease called Skeletal Dysplasia which leads to their dwarfism. Jen is 3 foot 2 inches tall and Bill is 4 feet tall.
The series began and continues to focus on the couples’ stature along with the trials and tribulations that they have (and continue) to overcome.
They are intelligent, humorous and interesting. Heck, I would love these 2 as my neighbors.
Here in lies the root of my article. I am not a PC person so I will be blunt.
In my opinion, the show is viewed by us (the audience) as a form of voyeurism if you will.
Are we watching the show because Jen is a doctor or Bill is a businessman (who works from a home office)? Perhaps a small number do but for the vast majority, NO.
Are we watching the show to see how these two live their lives day to day because they are little people? ABSOLUTELY.
If Jen and Bill were of average height and had the same professions, would we really even care? In high probability, NO.
After the first season of the show, the novelty for me quickly wore off. These two live an average life like we all do. There is nothing special to theirs. Yes, they are little; yes they face obstacles (as we all do day to day) with some being greater than others. They even just finished building a custom made 3,000+ square foot house.
In truth, I have seen nothing on the show that the two cannot do except for possibly conceiving a child.
Due to Jennifer’s size, doctors determined it would be risky for her to become pregnant so the couple wrestled with adoption or in vitro fertilization options.
They are currently in the second season of air time trying to conceive through a surrogate implanted with their “genetic materials” logging endless frequent flier miles back and forth (seemingly weekly) from Houston to a clinic in L.A.
Jen is a doctor at the largest medical center in the world and they cannot find an in vitro center in Houston? Only one on the beach in Santa Monica, CA?
How convenient and it makes for some great seascape shots at sunset.
Half of the last season seemed to focus on this topic (the other half in completing the aforementioned house).
Why do we care?
I wish them all the success I would any couple wanting to have a child in any way they thought was appropriate (adoption, in vitro or the old fashioned way).
Now, the show has become just a “side show”. Is it not enough that we have been voyeurs in the daily lives of this couple for two and half years? But now it has extended to a surrogate couple?
Having children (and deciding how to have them) is a personal choice, not a worldwide event.
I have no idea how much longer the show will air or if they will have a child/children through in vitro or adoption. I really don’t care.
It seems to me that this couple who yearned to just be average and accepted for their stature have achieved this all TOO well. They have shown the nation that they can be just as tedious, boring and over the top as the rest of us.
In the end though like any reality show these days, it just continues to prove that we as a country will watch anything.
We need that precious “water cooler” conversation piece.
Now if I can only find my remote and change the channel.
Finding Bigfoot is just starting on Animal Planet.