Matt and Zach Roloff’s names rang out through the world on 4 March 2006, upon the release of one of TLC’s most popular TV series, with a rather unusual premise. Situated on a 34-acre pumpkin farm in the vicinity of Portland, Oregon USA, Matt and Amy Roloff, both of whom have dwarfism, struggle to live as regular-sized individuals while raising four children, of whom only one suffers from their condition. Created by Gay Rosenthal Productions, the show is appropriately entitled “Little People, Big World.”
As is customary for the vast majority of TLC’s biggest titles, these ‘little people’ also have big problems between one another, with the episodes displaying increasingly more conflict over the years, throughout the series’ 24 seasons by early 2023.
Some of the biggest arguments in the show’s history took place between the parents and children, especially Matt and Zach – the only two men with dwarfism on the entirety of the property. Their conflict is the culmination of several controversial events that have over the years come together to tear up the near-flawless family image that the series’ producers had spent a long time creating.
The big story of little people
The series began as a one-hour special entitled “Little People, Big Dreams,” featuring the whole family, who ranged in age from early teens to mid-twenties. The special was well-received by viewers and TLC executives, and it was decided that the family would be given their own show. The first season promptly followed, with all of its 20 episodes achieving significant ratings.
One of the greatest selling points of the series is that it offers a unique perspective on farming life. While there are many families in the US living off the land, few of them have ever seen people with dwarfism dealing with the exact same challenges, which in a great many cases, require physical fortitude and stamina. This has made the Roloffs stand out from the crowd, and has given their fans a fresh and interesting look at what it means to run a farm.
Another reason for the show’s success is the Roloff family’s relatability. Despite their physical differences, they face many of the same challenges and joys as any other family. The audiences have been able to see the Roloffs navigate everything from divorce and family drama to raising children and running a business. The family’s willingness to be vulnerable and share their struggles has endeared them to viewers, and helped build a loyal fanbase that has stuck with them ever since the show’s inception.
But the success of “Little People, Big World” isn’t just about the Roloff family’s unique circumstances – it’s also about the show’s ability to capture the magic of farm life. From pumpkin patches to hayrides, the series has highlighted the beauty and fun of rural living, inspiring many viewers to seek out similar experiences for themselves.
This has helped the show become more than just a reality TV title – it’s a lifestyle brand, with fans eager to visit the Roloff Farms and participate in the family’s various enterprises. On top of that, it’s reinforced many conservative living ideals, bringing many closer to buying up their own land to embark on a similar journey.
Of course, every bright story also has a dark side, and the Roloffs are no exception. In recent years, the family has been plagued by rumors of feuds and infighting, with some family members choosing to step away from the show altogether. Such arguments have been building up over time to slowly dismantle the idyllic view that the show had struggled to build throughout its duration.
A big world in massive turmoil
One of the biggest bombshells that almost destroyed the entire Roloff brand was definitely Jacob Roloff’s heartfelt and rather shocking admission of being sexually abused by one of the producers of the TV series.
In an article by today.com, it’s revealed through the statement that Jacob posted on Instagram that he was molested as a child, the admission of which was prompted by the guilty party messaging him again in November 2015, a number of years after the abuse stopped. Being the youngest child of Matt and Amy, and also born without dwarfism, Jacob has stood out over the entire course of the show, but not only due to those factors, as he was also an unusual child.
As he himself has revealed in December 2017, it looks like part of the reason for his strangeness early on was forcefully induced by the series’ executive field producer named Chris Cardamone, who Jacob said sexually abused him in his early years.
While many expected to hear at least some level of detail pertaining to the situations alleged in Jacob’s Instagram post, he strictly specified that he wouldn’t be obliging this request, and instead simply chose to talk about the impact of the event, and the way fame and the entertainment business influence people all around the world, especially children.
He began by explaining that things are often much easier to reflect upon than actually utter or even type out on the internet, stating this difficulty as the reason why he took so long to come forward with these allegations.
The most detail that Jacob went into in his post was saying that what was done to him ‘was a long grooming process.’ Fortunately for the Roloff family, he blames none of the members, apparently because it was so secretive that none of them could’ve known. It begs the question, however, as to how involved the parents really were in their children’s upbringing if they had missed something so crucial to their child’s development.
The main reason for Jacob divulging this information was not to exact vengeance for what was done to him, but simply unburden his mind that had remained rather too heavy over the years, with the words he never before dared to share, especially publicly.
He also wanted to divert attention to the fact that there are probably many victims of sexual assault who hadn’t yet spoken up, for fear of being misunderstood, disbelieved, or even ridiculed. He noted that this would especially be the case for children like him, who grew up in the limelight, and whose fame depended upon the show going on no matter what.
Things took an interesting turn in Jacob’s post when he began describing the industry his family succeeded in as relying on ‘vouyeurism,’ stating that the whole gist of such thousands upon thousands of series is built upon ‘a massive spectacle of drama and pain and argument and invasion, with a little joy sprinkled over.’
Furthermore, he put a lot of the blame for the way things in the industry are on the viewers themselves, exclaiming that they view all of the aforementioned without any empathy or regard for the participants.
Having said that, Jacob also mentioned that there’s no real correlation between being involved in show business and suffering trauma as a child, thus refusing to attribute the blame for what he went through to anyone other than the individual mentioned at the start of the post.
He went as far as to ask whether the effects of reality TV on the viewers and cast members should be studied by a scientific community, so as to find some sort of method to the madness, implying that show business might after all be poisoned by rather unhealthy mindsets.
Lastly, Jacob ended the post in a compassionate and positive manner, stating certainty in the hope that he has revealed this to the world for his own, and then everyone else’s betterment. He made a point not to blame anyone in the family, and that he will forever stand with the silent survivors of abuse.
The big split of the original little people
The Roloff family would never have got anywhere, especially in the world of show business, without their two most important members who started it all, whom are of course Matt and Amy. In spite of their massive success, however, it seems that they drifted apart over the years, with their marriage left in tatters by what many often describe as the weight of fame.
After being married for nearly three decades, the two called it quits in 2016, and their split has been the subject of much speculation ever since. With many fans preferring Matt over Amy, and vice versa, their split also caused one among viewers.
According to various sources, the reason for their divorce was a combination of factors, including infidelity, financial disagreements, and incompatible lifestyles. While both parties have remained relatively tight-lipped about the specifics of their breakup, several incidents have shed some light on what may have gone wrong.
One of the most significant factors in their split was likely Matt’s relationship with Caryn Chandler, who was the family’s farm manager. According to Amy’s book “A Little Me,” she alleged that Matt was more than friends with Caryn while they were still married. This claim has been denied by Matt and Caryn, but it’s clear that Amy was hurt by the relationship, which she felt was a betrayal.
This is the photo I should have used in my last post. :))). Merry Christmas.
Posted by Matt Roloff on Monday, December 25, 2017
Another issue that likely contributed to the divorce was the use of available funds. Matt’s overall straightforwardness and speed in making business decisions without regard for most others could be distressing for those around him, and his interactions with Amy over various monetary choices were less than pleasant. This caused tension in their relationship, which was further exacerbated by the fact that they had different spending habits.
In addition, the couple had vastly differing views of what a fulfilling life is. Amy has stated that she wanted to stay in the family home after the divorce, while Matt wanted to move on and build a new home on the farm. This disagreement over where to live and how to move forward likely put further strain on their already fragile relationship.
Despite the pain and heartbreak of their divorce, the circumstances of which remain unclear, both Amy and Matt have found happiness in new relationships. Matt is now with Caryn, while Amy became engaged to Chris Marek, whom she married in 2021.
The epic battle for the farm
The Roloff family’s farm has been at the center of a long-standing feud between father and son, Matt and Zach Roloff. Their subsequently 109-acre pumpkin farm was turned into a veritable money-churning machine over the years, with its land value skyrocketing due to the show’s popularity.
The drama began after Matt and Amy’s divorce, when Matt decided to sell his portion of the farm. Zach and his wife Tori weren’t happy with the decision, claiming that the farm was no longer the enjoyable place it used to be. Zach hoped to buy the north side of the farm that his mother had sold to Matt, but the deal fell apart, leading to a falling out between father and son.
The tension between the two only escalated as Matt announced plans to sell 16 acres of the farm for $4 million. Zach was hurt and frustrated, feeling that he wasn’t being given a fair chance to buy the property. The feud was further amplified when Caryn Chandler, Matt’s girlfriend, was accused of pushing Matt to kill Zach’s property deal.
Despite the heated argument, Matt said during the season 22 finale that selling the farm to Zach was not entirely out of the question, but noted that he was unsure whether it was going to occur. The many arguments regarding this issue had all played out in the show, which only further infuriated Zach.
With a lot of back and forth going on over the fate of Matt’s section of the farm, it seems that in the most recent (24th) season the final resolution of this issue is still up in the air, as he and Matt hadn’t managed to reach a mutually satisfactory deal.
As it stands, at least until the next season is released, Matt was impacted by his father’s death in July of 2022, and is unwilling to consider any changes to the plans he already has in place for his piece of the property, which he currently uses for short-term renting. This is better than selling it to someone else at least, and so Zach has maintained some sort of a relationship with him. It remains to be seen whether Zach’s patience and Matt’s ultimate reluctance to sell his piece to the highest bidder will have a fruitful final outcome.