Why ‘7 Little Johnstons’ is Nothing Like ‘Little People Big World’ and ‘The Little Couple’
7 Little Johnstons is far from the first television show to depict the lives of little people, and it probably won’t be the last. Including 7 Little Johnstons, TLC airs five shows about little people: Little People, Big World, The Little Couple, Our Little Family, and My Little Life.
“Because there are so many shows about little people, people are clearly fascinated with how we live,” explained Amber Johnston.
But don’t let the names fool you, the similarities end there. 7 Little Johnstons is very different from these other shows.
It’s all about authenticity
The Johnstons aim to show us the true face of their family and its struggles throughout their show, and nothing else. Essentially, the Johnstons are a normal American family. They go through the same struggles as your average American, have the same relationship troubles, kid problems, and financial issues.
According to Amber Johnston, this is a big part of what defines their show, and makes it different from other shows about little people.
“Being able to show some of our struggles will be relatable to viewers because it’s not just that we’re struggling because we’re 4 feet tall; we’re struggling to raise teenagers or in our marriage,” Amber explained to Good Housekeeping. “They are things that everybody can relate to, no matter what.”
What matters to Amber Johnston is that the show represents a family of seven that happens to be little, rather than a little family of seven. The Johnstons believe that their show can help bring awareness to the world that little people deal with the same issues as everyone else.
No glamor here
Compared to other shows focusing on little people, the Johnstons might not live a very glamorous life. However, they have relatability in spades.
Take Little People, Big World, for example. The family lives on a large farm in Oregon, from which they run their family business. Definitely not an average situation, or incredibly relatable. Meanwhile, Jennifer Arnold from The Little Couple is a successful doctor.
“We watch their shows — and not saying that they aren’t great shows — but we want people to relate to us. Not everybody lives on big farm. Not everybody is a doctor,” explained Amber.
She went further, explaining that, “If all we’re doing is vacationing, eating at restaurants, or having parties, that’s not super relatable because I don’t know too many people who actually live like that,” she says. “We’re comfortable showing and sharing our real life.”
Learning and growing together
The Johnstons also point out that they show a relatively unfiltered view of their family life. All of their children are close in age, so they’re essentially going through each age group for the first time as parents.
“Being able to show some of our struggles will be relatable to viewers because it’s not just that we’re struggling because we’re 4 feet tall; we’re struggling to raise teenagers or in our marriage,” explained Amber.
That being said, the nature of reality television means that the Johnstons often see their parenting choices questioned. “W
e won’t make the right decisions all the time, or the kids aren’t always on their best behavior. We’re first time parents like everybody else. Just because we’re little people and happen to have little people children doesn’t automatically make us folks that know everything about our kids,” said Amber.
It’s also about learning how to deal with judgment. Society has often stigmatized or mocked little people, and that’s something the Johnstons have to teach their children about. At the same time, the viewers receive an education as well.