Most of America’s Romani – as they prefer to call themselves – left their caravans behind when they emigrated, but they’ve remained as fond of bling as their British cousins.
Seventeen-year-old Shyanne’s wedding dress boasts 14,000 crystals. Fourteen-year-old Hope makes up for her mere 6,000 with 50 yards of fuchsia pink ruffles and a cake – in the shape of a sparkly pink stiletto – that is three feet wide, two feet tall and entirely edible.
There’s something distasteful about the current vogue for gawping and gasping at gypsies. What began as an eye-opening Cutting Edge documentary about a section of society rarely seen on the small screen has turned into the televisual equivalent of Pringles.
You know you shouldn’t, but the packaging is so enticing: it looks so delectably colourful on the shelf compared to the low-fat crackers and dried fruit (the store cupboard equivalent of last night’s Newsnight – work with me here). Before you know it, you’ve consumed the entire tube and feel sick and sullied and thirsty for a cleansing costume drama.
C4 dressed up Big Fat Gypsy Weddings as a documentary series but, with its bouncy soundtrack and blithe commentary from Barbara Flynn, it encouraged us to marvel at how young, uneducated women squeezed themselves into dresses so dazzling and gargantuan they could probably be seen from space, so weighty they left welts.
Discovery Real Time specialises in such shows. Gypsy Brides US will be perfectly at home among its other eyebrow-raising exhibits: Brides of Beverley Hills (filthy rich Bridezillas), Extreme Couponing (Americans who would sell their soul to the devil for a money-off voucher) and My Strange Addiction (Americans who eat rocks and sniff petrol).
And yet I gobbled it up, and I’d bet my last tube of Pringles that you do too. Why? Because it’s as entertaining as it is horrifying. Shyanne, who’s never even kissed a boy and has only met her husband-to-be twice, makes great telly.
Gypsy Brides US begins tonight at 10pm on Discovery Real Time
***Warning: the clip below features some strong language. If you are likely to be offended, please do not view.***