I think many people have at least some level of curiosity about the Amish culture. We know about 'Amish country' and hear about how members of the community don't use electricity and other things that seem foreign in today's technological society. And we wonder about Rumspringa, the period in which a 16 year old Amish person leaves the community to decide whether they'd like to break away or return. With the new show Breaking Amish, TLC brings us into the world of people from the Amish community who are stepping away to live a more traditional lifestyle. And believe me, watching these people find their way is quite fascinating.
Time.com likens Breaking Amish to MTV's Real World, presumably in the sense that it takes youths from different areas of the country and relocates them to a busy city and places them in specific situations. Like with Real World or Jersey Shore, you should be hesitant to believe that Abe, Jeremiah, Kate, Rebecca and Sabrina represent all Amish youths who step away from their culture.
In an interview with Time.com, Timothy Sauder, a 30 year old who left his Amish community, warns viewers to be skeptical before assuming all Amish people act like the group of five on Breaking Amish. Regarding the stars of the TLC show, Timothy stated:
I don’t think that they’re a representative group at all. They’re far more dramatic than any Amish kids I’ve ever seen, so that makes me suspicious immediately. Their way of speaking doesn’t look genuine to me. I just felt like they expressed themselves in ways that seem very scripted, like, they were told to say those things.
Early reviews of the show rate it highly, saying it's good to watch and the participants are likeable. Reviews also state the show is hard to watch because we're seeing participants being forced away from their families for choosing a televised lifestyle, making difficult life decisions and being filmed despite their lack of knowledge about reality television.
Before you say this show is exploiting its participants, keep in mind that all of the people on the show are adults and have ambitions beyond being Amish - they were not forced by TLC to agree to be filmed, despite the risks of losing their families and acceptance from their communities. Per the NY Daily News:
Kate, 20, and Rebecca, 21, think they’d like to model. Jeremiah, 32, and Abe, 22, have gotten just enough of a whiff of life outside the Amish community that they’re just missing too much by never experiencing it. Sabrina, 25, was born to Puerto Rican and Italian parents and adopted by a Mennonite family. She wants to find some sense of her biological roots.