Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My friends are hooked on Breaking Amish

As all of you know, I'm a little obsessed at times with reality TV. I'd like to think that I am at least semi-well-read, but I do have to admit that much of what I know about some subjects I get from watching reality TV.

I did watch a lot of Dateline interviews on NBC about polygamy before Sister Wives, I feel the need to say. At least that education came from news. 

Jenny saw me post that I was going to watch Breaking Amish, so she called for a party. So, she and Rachel came over to watch with me on Sunday night. It wasn't much of a party to their disappointment, I'm sure, but it was 9:00 on a Sunday night after church. Jenny does feel that I introduce her to different cultures and ways of life through my choice of TV viewing. (And, she's already hooked on Breaking Amish, or so she says.)

For the number of Amish authors that I now work with, I really should know more than I do about the Amish way of life. I couldn't answer all the questions she and Rachel had, at least not like I can many of the ones they have after watching Kody Brown and brood. 

Maybe you’ve seen the commercials or caught Sunday night’s premiere of Breaking Amish. The previews had me hooked, I must admit. However, this program stands out from the crop of all the other shows on TLC.

Most of the shows on TLC feature families that are different, but want to share their life to show it in a positive light. Take 19 Kids and Counting or United Bates of America—both highlight super-sized Christian families who homeschool and make the best out of life while still sticking to their values in a world that doesn’t. Other shows like Little People, Big World and The Little Couple depict what life is like for people with dwarfism that make the best out of life and are very successful despite the challenges they face.

I've also learned a lot from All-American Muslim and Long Island Medium. But, I won't go there. 

Breaking Amish is different. You won’t see the cameras going in and showing families that will make you want to move to the closest Amish community, and it’s not just because the families don’t believe in being photographed or filmed. The show follows 5 young adults (ages 20-32, four Amish and one Mennonite) who are not at all happy with the life they are living. I would say that 4 out of 5 of them are even angry.

You see, for these young people, the simpler way of life that some people admire is not really simpler for them. They feel bound by their way of life and desperately want to get away from it. The young men complain about the hard work, even the restrictions on their clothes. I wouldn’t really expect wardrobe complaints from the men, would you? The women wearing starched bonnets, yes. 

One of the women wants to find a man who will cook and clean for her. (Another confession: I do too!) She’s had about all of taking care of the men in her family that she can stand. Another is the daughter of the bishop, and wants to become a model. She’s already been kicked out of her family’s home, and was later charged with a DUI after joining friends in Florida when she didn’t know where else to go. 

What I'm really wondering is since these people don't watch TV, how did they find them? Unlike some posts I've seen online, I don't really think the producers are forcing them into anything. I think what’s very interesting about the cast the network found is that that two of the young people were adopted. Each passionately proclaims that they were not born into this way of life and wonder what life could have been for them if they had not been adopted by Amish and Mennonite families.

The first episode shows what life is like in their home communities in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Each one of these young people know that they will be shunned and will not be accepted back into their families once the show takes them to New York and “sets them free” in the big city. And for the most part, they don’t really seem to care because they think there’s something bigger and better out there for them.

That’s where the second episode will pick up. And oh, and the network is going to show them all about the big city. After the initial shock of flying in a plane and seeing the New York Skyline for the first time, Jeremiah, Kate, Abe, Rebecca and Sabrina will get a culture shock. The previews show how overwhelmed by Times Square (complete with “The Naked Cowboy” who plays the guitar in his tighty-whities) they are, and follow them to bikini photo shoots, strip clubs, bars where they will get drunk, a trip to get a very large tattoo, and more.

I'm kind of scared to find out what's going to happen. I think it's going to be something like Amish Gone Wild videos.

Here's a peek at next week's show...

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