Reality TV is best when it defies formula. No matter how hard Lifetime may try to market Little Women: L.A. into a corner, this show has the potential to put up a fight.
Little Women: L.A. is as feisty as its stars. It could be simply described as Real Housewives meets The Little Couple–more Housewives than Couple, though, so expect more cat fights than pedestrian marital issues. The beauty of the show occurs when its rudimentary premise breaks down. What’s fascinating about reality TV is the reality. For all the effort that goes into it, the illusion of these programs is not what we’re after. We value the ostentation of shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians or Made in Chelsea precisely because we can see right through it.
The women on the show all have dwarfism, the technical term for what makes them “little” women (“little” is also acceptable–FYI, individuals without dwarfism are “average size”). The shortest, Briana, is 3’8″. Any effort to sensationalize this as the show’s premise falls flat in the face of the women’s unnerving confidence. In the opening credits, the women shake their asses, smile and throw fierce glances at the camera in stylish clothing and hot haircuts. What I like best is, the women are all so sassy, you couldn’t put words in their mouths if you tried.
Little Women: L.A. feels less like a close observation of its subjects than a platform for them to narrativize their experience. In between shoe shopping and dress tailoring, the women ferociously debate “the M word” in a hot tub while wearing bikinis, and also detail their childhood experiences of being viciously bullied and mistreated for their bodies over cocktails.
This intersection is where the show thrives. Unlike the mushy, inspirational vibe of a show such as The Little Couple, the more anarchistic Housewives dynamic frees the women to call each other out. In a gym scene one woman complains to another that she doesn’t want one of the women in their circle to be in a group photo shoot with her because she used the “M-word”. The other woman responds, “Are you sure it’s not because you don’t want just one blonde in it?”
Hilarious statements like this are relatable enough to crack up a wide audience and come from a neglected perspective. Want to toss back girly drinks and talk social issues? This is just what the Women do, once you wade through the drama.
Little Women: L.A. premieres May 27 at 10 PM on Lifetime. Stock up on Kleenex, family size bags of chips, and pints of Phish Food now.
Will you be watching? Leave a comment below.