Breaking Amish – Season 1, Episode 1

One Sentence Summary: One Mennonite & four Amish people leave the safety of their communities to explore the world of New York City.

Hello Times Square.

My Thoughts:

Rachel:  I have to say that I was iffy about watching this show and reviewing it here.  Clearly, we have a certain uh… tone we take on this site with regard to reality TV.  That’s why we never post about children (No Dance Moms, Toddlers & Tiaras or Honey Boo Boo) or about people trying to better their lives (No  Intervention, Hoarders, or Biggest Loser).  Look, even we have a line.  It might be very thin and drawn in the sand, but it’s a line.  So, when I see a show about Amish youth (Yes, one is Mennonite, but you know I’m lazy & can’t type both every time) who are risking their safety to leave their communities, I think that might fall under the “no coverage” rule.  But I’m so fascinated by their world and this journey that I’m going to make an exception and see how it goes.  I’m also going to try and take a less snarky tone, which is no easy task as we know.

Anywho, I grew up in Pennsylvania and remember driving through Amish country as a kid with my parents.  I was totally captivated by the horse & buggies and “funny” outfits they wore.  My parents would always buy apple butter from them and that was pretty much all I knew about the Amish.  Yep, apple butter & buggies.  I never really thought much about what their actual lives must be like.  They were just a group of people that lived without electricity and The Love Boat.  Obviously, as an adult, I am a bit more educated, but their world still remains mysterious & curious to me.

Breaking Amish (which I can’t hear without thinking of Breaking Bonaduce – and we all know how badly that ended) features one Mennonite & four Amish people leaving their homes and traveling to New York City to see how the world works outside of their community.  They will encounter things they’ve never seen before like airplanes, subways, the internet and sarcasm.  No seriously, I am willing to bet that there isn’t a whole lot of sarcasm flying around central PA.  But in order to make that trip, they have to say goodbye to everything they’ve ever know, possibly forever, as their breaking from the flock will result in them being shunned – for a period of time or for forever.  If you think the big city is lonely & scary, imagine living in an Amish town with no one speaking to you.  Yipes.  But they’re on the show, because they’re willing to make the leap of faith… And we’re here to watch it go down over 9 episodes.

I have to say that while watching tonight’s episode, my overriding feeling was pity – but not in a condescending way – for the kids.  BTW, they’re kids to me, not even so much because of age, but because of their inexperience.   Listening to them talk about wanting more for themselves but knowing that they face being “shunned” by their families & friends made me just want to hug them.  I mean could Abe’s family have been less caring about him leaving?  And watching Rebecca’s grandfather storm past her and shut the front door in her face was terrible.  They’re still kids.  And maybe if you talked to them instead of ignoring them, you might have a chance of getting them to stay.  Just a thought.

But it’s a brave thing to stand up to a whole community and follow your dreams.  It’s also brave to roll into New York City wearing those outfits.  But we’re not there yet.  The whole idea of shunning someone because they stepped outside the boundaries of what is considered proper is really cruel to me.  I get the idea of teaching a lesson so that they don’t repeat mistakes, but this seems extreme.  I’m thinking if you leave the world of freezing outhouses & gas lamps for automatic flush toilets and The Clapper but ultimately return home, you’ve probably learned whatever lesson you needed to learn.  Maybe a hug would be more appropriate than a shun.  But I realize this is not their way and showing love is not acceptable so I’m preaching to the wrong choir.

Yet, at the same time, I’m not totally convinced that these kids will be better off in the “real world”.  There is something to be said about a simple world where community and family are paramount.  I think those of us running around out here could learn a thing or two from them.  I’m not saying we need to take it to this extreme, but wouldn’t it be nice if we were a little more interested in helping thy neighbor than fighting tooth and nail to get what’s ours?  No, I’m not going to start singing “Imagine” by John Lennon.  Calm down.

I’m also not convinced they’ll be better off because an 8th grade education & zero street smarts is hardly proper preparation for living in New York City.  People can be cruel and I doubt any of them are prepared for that.  They should have to watch reruns of the Real Housewives and Jersey Shore before they make their final decision.  I have a feeling there might at least be a momentary pause before running headfirst into the Big Apple.  But then we also wouldn’t have a show, would we?  Oops, snark.

Anyway, I’m fascinated.  I’m invested.  I’m watching.  I’m also pretending that I’m not curious how they found these kids who have no TV, internet or cell phones and got them to be on the show.  Or how Kate ended up in Florida, drunk and driving.   And I know I didn’t really cover the show tonight.  I will do a better job next week.

Would love to hear your thoughts on tonight’s episode!


3 responses to “Breaking Amish – Season 1, Episode 1

  1. Ive been watching a show on national geographic about The Amish, but it’s more in regard to EX Amish making their way in the world After choosing to leave and being shunned. It’s a great show, taking place in MIssouri, where most of them have gotten jobs that don’t necessarily require higher education, like farming, car sales, oil rigs, etc. it’s a lot more real than plunking them down in the “big city”.

  2. I like your post. I must say that NatGeo’s Amish out of Order is a far, far, more accurate depiction of the Amish and those that leave.

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