TLC has something up their sleeve. First they had "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" sucking audiences in and now they've done it again. I guess you could call it capitalizing on the loveable weirdos of our world.
"Breaking Amish" follows five 20-somethings from the Amish community and drops them in the middle of New York City.
In some of the scenes, you can hear resident New Yorkers yelling, "The Pilgrims have arrived!" The group just thinks this is rude. They are Amish, not Pilgrims, duh!
“Breaking Amish” airs at 10 p.m. Sunday on TLC. The plot of the show revolves around five young Anabaptist adults (four Amish and one Mennonite) who move to New York City in order to experience a different life (Wikipedia).
The characters, Rebecca, Abe, Jeremiah, Kate and Sabrina, are a mish-mash of young Amish men and women that TLC wants you to believe were just dropped in the middle of the big city. They first drop Rebecca, Kate and Sabrina off in the city, leaving them to discover their first plushy, fancy hotel room. The group oohs and ahhs over the running water, something most of them are not used to. They are fascinated by the Keurig machine in the hotel room as well, not quite sure of what its purpose is. I can't blame them on that one though, the first time I saw a Keurig machine I was like, "What the hell is this thing?" too!
But TLC must think its viewers are stupid to believe that this is the first time the Amish have seen the "English" world, as they call it. Just by listening to their vocabulary and experiences you know they are no virgins to the secular world. Many accusations have come to surface in the past couple weeks, calling the show fake. Pictures, police reports and mug shots have been flashed all over media outlets: Jeremiah has an ex-wife and three kids and a rap sheet full of domestic violence; Abe and Rebecca have been married before (the show sets you up with the idea that they know who each other are, but were never really acquainted); Sabrina already was on a reality show about Amish being Americanized and Kate has modeling pictures that date as early as 2010.
TLC has commented saying that some of the accusations are true, and that some of them will be addressed in future episodes. But if you live in ignorant bliss about reality TV shows like me, let me tell you how I feel about the show.
Let's start with Rebecca, who is quite possibly my least favorite character. She's annoying. There's no way around it. But at the same time, you still have empathy for her. She explains that she is the product of an affair: her mother had an affair with an Amish taxi driver, and when she contacted him he said he wanted nothing to do with her and that he had his own life. Rebecca is a know-it-all, and maybe that's why I can't stand her. She's ignorant as well, poking fun at another girl's weight on the show, overly gawking at the prices of groceries and restaurants in New York City, and always hanging out with the boys. She seems a bit of a tattletale, and I couldn't help but laugh when the other girls, Kate and Sabrina, found her false teeth hidden in her bonnet while she was sleeping. I have a feeling TLC is trying to make her the "heroine" of the group, as she left the Amish community because she knew there were better opportunities for her in the outside world.
Next we have Abe, whose mother is just not ready to let go. In Amish culture, if one leaves the community, they are shunned. Basically, they have a funeral for them and act as if they are dead. Abe knows these consequences and it seems like when he tells his family of his decision they basically say, "Okay have a nice life." You can tell his brothers and sisters are jealous of him. He seems bright-eyed and determined as the group walks the streets together. In one episode, his mother comes back and tries to persuade him to come back. She evens asks, almost eerily, if the cafe they are eating at makes cask as good as she does. Abe laughs and smiles, saying it's good, but no cooking is as good as her's.
Jeremiah is my favorite character. He seems as dumb as rocks, but you just want to root for him. He curses like a sailor, which makes me believe a lot of the rumors, but he also often secludes himself from the group. In one episode, he goes to different eccentric stores looking for "English" clothes and even gets a large tattoo on his arm, much to the rest of the casts' surprise. In all of their one-on-one interviews, they all are shocked and somewhat appalled by his decision. Jeremiah breaks up with his girlfriend before he leaves, and she again is very cold hearted. Apparently it isn't in the nature of Amish people to be very emotional. As a viewer, I had a hard time watching the cast leave their homes with their families barely caring.
Sabrina is the only Mennonite in the cast of "Breaking Amish." She has held down a job at a Christmas store for years, saving up money to be on her own. She is adopted, coming from Puerto Rican and Italian heritage. You can tell she feels slighted that she knows she wasn't born into the Mennonite community, someone chose this for her. There are instances where you can tell Sabrina has been preparing herself to leave the Mennonite community for years, now. She bought a Puerto Rican magazine to show "what my people are like."
Kate, the last cast member to join the group, apparently is a legend in the Amish community. As the daughter of a Bishop, which is like "the leader," she had already been asked to leave the community for bad behavior. In her introduction, she tells the story of getting a DUI right after getting her license in Florida and shares her dreams of being a model. She and Sabrina get drunk in one of the episodes and make fun of Rebecca, who "hates drunk people."
I don't know if TLC was going for this, but they sort of made the young Amish people on this show look stupid. I know they aren't stupid, but sometimes it's hard to decipher whether they are being serious or not. It's fun to watch them go on adventures, from trying sushi for the first time, to dressing "English." Upcoming episodes show drama between cast members as they all are just trying to find themselves outside the Amish community that they've been a part of for so long.
See for yourself: "Breaking Amish" is on TLC Sunday nights at 10 p.m.