In Sunday’s upcoming episode of My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding, the actual wedding takes a back seat to the myriad ways women adapt to — and sometime rebel against — their role in Romanichal culture.
If you watched last week’s episode, you’ll recognize Martinsburg, W.Va., Romany Laura as the one-woman cavalry called in to teach teen gorger bride Amber proper gypsy-missus ways before she married Laura’s cousin Tommy. This week, you get to meet the rest of Laura’s family. Or at least a couple hundred of them.
Laura’s cousin Kayla has decided to gather their entire extended clan for a Thanksgiving reunion before winter settles in and everyone sticks close to home. Also in on the party planning is cousin Nettie, who lives across town with her husband, seven children, a teenage nephew and her 22-year-old sister Mellie.
Like many Romany girls, Mellie (that’s her above on the left) married at 16 — but she left the relationship and divorced her husband when he became physically abusive. Put off on love and marriage by the experience, Mellie clings to gypsy traditions by the merest thread, running with gorgers, drinking to excess and generally driving the rest of the women in her clan to distraction with her black-sheep ways.
Still, the group includes her in a field trip to Boston to check out the party dresses they custom ordered from — of course — Sondra Celli for the celebration. While the married women are happy with their short, sparkly, strapless creations, Mellie feels hers is too matronly — even though it’s basically an extended, fur-trimmed tube top — and requests further ventilation.
Back at home, the work season has ended and the men have returned, so everyone packs up and heads off to Atlantic City to blow off some steam before the Thanksgiving shindig. Mellie’s behavior further worries Nettie that Mellie will ruin herself to the point that no gypsy man will want her. Which is just fine by Mellie.
Meanwhile, several hundred miles away in Princeton, W.Va., 40-year-old gypsy divorcée Ammie is preparing to remarry her former husband Morris, a raspy-voiced butterball who shows up for the occasion in jeans and a ball cap.
Will the ladies’ Thanksgiving celebration go off without a hitch? Will Mellie be the hitch? Is the second time the charm for Morris and Ammie? And most importantly — should Laura really be doing that with bleach? Find out when My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding: “Wild Gypsy Mellie” airs Sunday night at 10/9 CT on TLC.
In the meantime, if you’re a longtime watcher of the original U.K. Gypsy Wedding, check out a fascinating update on flaxen-haired English gypsy (and “grabbing” victim) Cheyenne Pidgley here. Her costars Josie and Swanley Smith and their adorable pink-dressed tot are pictured, too.