Thursday, November 1, 2012

How UNrealist is Breaking Amish "reality" show, and where can I find a truly realistic view of Amish life?

I’ve been asked lately about all the Amish reality shows. And at first, I didn’t really know what people were talking about, since I don’t watch television. But someone gave me a link to watch Breaking Amish on YouTube, and wanted to know if I’d come across Amish as depicted in this show.  So I watched it, but before I “grade” it, I’d like to backtrack.  

I want to step back fifteen years ago, when Amish fiction became a genre of its own. Or maybe it started with The Witness, a movie where Harrison Ford falls in love with an Amish woman. It seemed like the answer to everyone’s problems was to become more like Amish. So tourism exploded in Amish communities, and along with it, new thoughts and temptations.

When my daughter and I went to visit an Amish tourist area once. People where dressed up as Amish and gave buggy rides. When the Amish we came across in stores didn’t seem true to their culture, I leaned toward one teenager and whispered, “You’re not Amish, are you? You just run the store?” She shook her head. “Yes, I am. But some of our ways are silly.” She went on to make fun of how young Amish get married, have so many children, etc. I’m sure if I asked her if I could take her picture, she’d pose.  I’d known many, many Amish families by this time, so she was such a rarity, my daughter walked out of the store, appalled.

This girl was like…one of the Amish girls on Breaking Amish.  I wonder how long it took to the makers of Breaking Amish to find this “needle in a haystack”.  Obviously, they have no respect for the Amish or their culture, and know they won’t sue, so they’re a free-for-all.  I think Kate, the beautiful Amish girl with dark hair, was the only one who acted Amish, and defended them while the others told bizarre stories. (A coincidence?  Don’t we like to see friction and a good fight?) The other ones I found super disgruntled with their heritage.  When was the last time you sat in a restaurant and heard a man DEMONIZE Amish men, saying they have sex with animals? Kate wanted to leave, and I cheered her on.

And why did they take these Amish boys to a strip club? One Amish guy walked out, the other said “I thought you were more of a man than this.”  Oh, and isn’t it so fun to watch people squirm? Isn’t this what our culture craves? And it’s a no-brainer why they took the Amish men (boys?) to a strip club. Sex sales and it’s all about the money. And people fighting sales too, so I’m sure they interviewed Amish youth and found someone like the girl in the shop we met. (And may I add, good-looking? That sells too.)

As I wrote this, I kept thinking of this scripture:

Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted. Titus 1:15 NLT

I find Kate to have a pure heart, so she has eyes to see the good in the Amish culture. As for the others, well, I hope they mature and some day come back on television and give a realistic view of Amish life. 
If you want to watch a documentary that portrays the Amish accurately, watch The American Experience: The Amish. If you follow the link below, it will take you to the show. If you watch this documentary, you'll see through these "reality" shows.


  1. Thank you, you answered many questions I had. I applaud you for talking about this subject. I have watched the other show where the kids leave their communities and where one girl wanted to join the Amish. Personally I was appalled by what I saw. Kids drinking, smoking, cussing, driving too fast in their first car. One of the young men died, another almost died. I won't watch again. Too heartbreaking

    Cathy Weber

  2. Thanks for posting this..I have recorded them shows, glad now I haven't watched any of them, they will just be all deleted off my dvr...I dont think its fair to the Amish, how others want to act, dress like them..As they are not trying to act like anyone...Its not humane to disrespect people, that they are not..

  3. I watched a little of breaking Amish and was so disgusted with it. I don't watch it at all now. It was very degrading to the real Amish people. I don't know how anyone can watch this show at all. And hope that no one continues to watch it.

  4. Unfortunately the requested video you linked to was not available.


  5. Thank you for this blog- I also have known Amish people all my life- good sweet - God fearing people. The true Amish would not go to a strip club- true Amish do not run down the other people that are Amish- they are all like one big family- they take care of each other!!! I have also known the Amish I know dont want a camera stuck up in their face- they are not trying to get attention like the ones were on Breaking Amish. And yes I do think they were somewhat taken advantage of- because Amish will not sue- and the producers and writers and photographers know that!!! One thing I also know the last thing an Amish person wants to do is embarrass the rest of the people of their faith!!!

  6. If you Google you'll find that the five people brought into the Breaking Amish show have spotty pasts and, in fact, most had already left the community before joining the show. Most of it was an act - and 2-3 have married / divorced and have children so their "ages" are questionable. It's all set up to seem real. I first became wary when one of the first things out of Jeremiah's mouth was a four-letter word. The real Amish just wouldn't immediately pick up's shameful what TV shows and channels do for ratings.

  7. Thanking for sharing this. I will most definitely watch the show that portrays the Amish realistically.

  8. Breaking Amish is not worth talking about! Richard

  9. The sad thing is that the real thing doesnt make for good television; the producers hype it up so they get good ratings. When did spending three hours in church, or baking pies and looking after the family properly make for good ratings?