Okay, so I watched the first episode of TLC’s Breaking Amish last night. I was not impressed and here’s the main reason why; These kids are being portrayed as leaving the Amish for the first time and experiencing the “English” and city life for the first time, and that’s not true. Here’s how I know; I met Jeremiah (one of the main characters on the show) several times about four or five years ago. He was not Amish at the time and hadn’t been for years. He has been driving motor vehicles for years. He seemed like a nice guy the several times I spoke with him but the way he is being portrayed on Breaking Amish, is just not true.
I’ve never met any of the other cast of Breaking Amish so I can’t tell you whether they’re prior life is being accurately portrayed or not.
So, on to the content of the episode… Most members of the cast come off as extremely disrespectful. Jeremiah who was adopted, talks about being “thrown into this Amish crap and it’s not cool.” You’d think he would have some respect and love for his adoptive parents. Abe tells his sister very rudely, to get into the house and help Mom with dinner. The one girl, Rebecca I believe, takes the camera crew right up to her grandfather’s home and then feigns surprise when he’s not happy about it. From my perspective as an ex-Amish person, that was incredibly rude and disrespectful. I live with a handful of other ex-Amish kids, and none of us are ***holes like the kids on that show. All of us left the Amish and live in a fairly large city but none of us would disrespect our friends and family like that. Could it be that these kids were purposely disrespectful in order to anger their Amish friends and family and thereby increase the drama of the show? Either that, or they’re just naturally ***holes.
Not far into the episode, Jeremiah talks about having driven a horse and buggy all his life. Bull****! See my first paragraph.
One of the cast tells us that Amish men fear doing dishes. That’s not even funny. I know a lot of Amish men who help in the kitchen and the home. Then Rebecca fixes a meal for two of her somewhat demanding male cousins. The Amish may be sexist but these two scenes were obviously staged to point that out in a dramatic manner.
The kids are shown doing chores and working in their “good” clothing. In reality the Amish would wear “everyday” clothing to do those things. In fact, we would get reprimanded if we did chores in our Sunday clothing. Soiling them would force Mom to make new ones.
At one point, one of the male cast members claims that the Amish aren’t allowed to show love. Ridiculous! The Amish may be a little more emotionally reserved than most cultures but there are no rules against showing love.
I saved the best for last: Jeremiah is shown to be living in Holmes County, Ohio, and for the most part, his attire seems to support that (different Amish communities wear different styles of clothing and it’s often easy to tell which area an Amish person is from). As Jeremiah is there on what’s portrayed as his home place in Ohio, the “Bishop’s wife” goes past on a scooter. Now we have a big problem with the show. The “Bishop’s wife is dressed as Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Amish (with the distinctive heart-shaped head covering). Lancaster is where Kate is from and the “Bishop’s wife” looks suspiciously like Kate. There is no sensible explanation for this incongruous scene other than that it was completely staged.
TLC’s Breaking Amish is a lie. If you want to learn about kids leaving the Amish, watch NatGeo’s Amish out of Order. If you don’t want to learn anything, if you want to see made up crap, and if you want to see ridiculous drama, then watch Breaking Amish. But please, please, keep in mind that most of this show is staged and scripted, else you too will be guilty of propagating these falsehoods about Amish culture.