Two young Romanichal gypsy women shoved and punched each other following a wedding in the reality series that depicts the everyday lives of families like Mellie Stanley’s. She was charged with disorderly conduct after the brawl.
Cameras caught Mellie and the maid of honor, Diamond, in what Mellie called “a huge argument.” It centered around comments allegedly made about the bride’s mother-in-law.
Mellie, who lives in Martinsburg, sat down with The Herald-Mail for an interview Sunday before the show aired. While she does not watch every episode in its entirety, the 23-year-old said she would tune in with other viewers at 10 p.m.
“Tonight, I want to watch the fight,” she said.
Mellie is unapologetic about using her fists. Gypsies, she said, love big and fight big, but are quick to forget about disagreements.
The show might leave some viewers perplexed when the women glue rhinestones to a bra, brush their teeth with bleach or encourage young girls to gyrate when dancing. However, Mellie and her older sister, Nettie, said nothing is staged.
“That’s the way we dress, we act. That’s us,” Mellie said. “That’s what some people don’t want to get out there.”
“We are the same (as everyone else). The only thing different is we might be more blinged out,” Nettie said in a phone interview.
Nettie and Mellie recently filmed a pilot for a spinoff series called “The Stanley Sisters,” which also involves their cousin Kayla Williams and her sister-in-law, Laura Johnston. Mellie said she expects that show to air June 24 on TLC.
A reunion episode for “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding” will be filmed in Martinsburg mid-month.
The Stanley sisters, who have nine siblings, were discovered by the show’s creators on Facebook. TLC had already been airing “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” with footage recorded in Europe.
Through research done by the show’s producers, Mellie and Nettie learned they descended from some of the first Romanichal gypsies to flee England for the United States due to persecution.
“There are an estimated 1 million gypsies throughout the U.S., but most live in complete secrecy, away from the judgment and discrimination that plague their communities,” TLC wrote in a news release.
The Romanichals (also Romnichals) are a Romani sub-group in the United Kingdom and other parts of the English-speaking world.
Romanichals are thought to have arrived in Britain in the 16th century. They are closely related to the Welsh Kale and Romani groups in continental Europe.
Mellie only started watching the European series regularly after being cast in the U.S. show.
“It shows how different we are. ... They fight for money; we blacktop for money,” she said.
Indeed, many of her male family members and friends do driveway work across the country, even flying to Florida when temperatures dip locally. Some of their wives and children travel with them, while others stay in one place.