Abe and Rebecca, Amish Breaking, Breaking Amish, breaking amish fake, Jeremiah Raber, New York City, Sabrina, TLC
Last night I watched episode 2 of TLC’s Breaking Amish. I didn’t like it anymore than the first one.
The first lie occurs just seconds into the show as the following words display on the screen; “They’ll leave their community for the first time”. It has already been firmly established that that is just not true. Why does TLC keep lying to us? Do they think we’re just going to take it?
One of the biggest differences between this episode and the first one, is the soundtrack. You might not even notice it unless you consciously think about it while watching, but there’s a big difference between the two episodes. During the first episode, the cast members were leaving the sinister (that’s what they’d have you think) Amish, and the soundtrack was laden with ominous music as fast-moving clouds raced across the screen. In contrast, the second episode has an upbeat and exciting soundtrack, completing the illusion that these kids have grasped onto an exciting and life-changing opportunity.
Something else that I noticed was the cast’s language. I’ve heard many people (that aren’t all that familiar with the Amish) claim that the excessive use of the words “like” and “freaking” and the one occurrence of “skank” are proof that these kids haven’t been Amish for a long time. That’s not necessarily true. Many Amish kids pick up these terms during their occasional interactions with “English” kids and it spreads throughout Amish youth culture. It is nothing new to hear real Amish kids use words like that. There is, however, another aspect of their language use that indicates that Pennsylvania Dutch hasn’t been their primary spoken language for quite some time–and that is fluency. These cast members speak English fluently and comfortably, and that’s just not something that a fresh-off-the-farm Amish kid is able to do. One exception to this is when the Amish parents encourage English language use at home. It’s not common but it does happen.
When the cast first reaches New York, I get the feeling that they’re acting a little too much like fish out of the water. They react more strongly to these “new” sights and experiences than the typical emotionally-reserved Amish person does. Perhaps it is because they are overcompensating for having to act like they just left the Amish. There’s a recent interview on Time.com in which an ex-Old Order Mennonite man, Tim Sauder, explains the true reactions of Amish and Old Order Mennonite upon visiting the Big Apple for the first time. Read that interview here.
In this episode, Abe and Rebecca begin to like each other. Or do they? In real life they’ve been a non-Amish couple for years and even have a kid. Rebecca says she’s never lived with electricity. You mean, not even after leaving the Amish years ago? Abe claims to have never experienced a shower and doesn’t know for sure what a microwave is. You mean to say he’s so stupid that after leaving the Amish years ago, he still hasn’t encountered a microwave?
Rebecca is used to an outhouse for a bathroom, and is supposedly just off the farm. She sure doesn’t have any trouble figuring out how to get a cot into their room. She claims to have never slept in the same bed with anyone else and yet evidence suggests that she gave birth to Abe’s child.
Abe says he’s never really partied before. This mugshot and arrest record says otherwise. This arrest record shows that Abe was arrested in Kentucky in April 2008 for alcohol intoxication in a public place. Source
All three girls appear to have had their eyebrows plucked before leaving the Amish. Wouldn’t that have been vain? Kate and Jeremiah appear to have pierced ears. That’s definitely not allowed in the Amish. Click on the images to enlarge them:
Kate carries a pink, striped, Victoria’s Secret bag that is probably not allowed by the Amish.
Sabrina claims Mennonites aren’t allowed to stay in hotels because they have bars. I know several Beachy Mennonite (very conservative) and they have no problem with hotels. Sabrina also wears a lot of makeup. How is that not vain?
One of the cast claims that Amish guys don’t shop. Jeremiah, in a blatant show of sexism, wonders which of the girls is going to cook the food for them. I know plenty of Amish men who cook and go grocery shopping.
Jeremiah implies that he’s never driven a vehicle before. So in all the years he hasn’t been Amish, he’s never driven? I know from personal experience with Jeremiah that he has driven plenty.
Last but not least, the cast was incredibly mean to each other. Abe and Jeremiah insult each other behind each others backs. Rebecca is a complete bi***, and then the other girls steal her teeth. Real Amish wouldn’t fight like this, especially when put in a new environment such as New York City. Rather than fighting, they would band together and form a clique to protect each other even if they’re from different communities.
One young lady on Facebook had this to say; “Those amish are mean and bullies. I thougt the amish were all about kindness and helping each other, boy I was wrong…” No! No! No! The Amish are not like this. It only happens when a few bad apples do it for the money. This show is spinning off misconceptions about the Amish left and right and that’s why I will continue spending hours and hours of my time, proving that Breaking Amish is fake.
In the grocery store scene when they are checking out, you can clearly see Rebecca’a drivers license in her wallet for about 1 second. I had to pause my DVR just right to see it but it’s there clear as day.
Good catch, Jed!
I absolutly loved this, very well said. Thank you for sharing:)
There are 2 other things I noticed in this episode that belies their claims that they just left the Amish. One is that Kate appears to be wearing a black fitted tee-shirt in the scene where they “find” Rebecca’s teeth. The second is that Rebecca is carrying around a large bright purple Doone and Burke style bag. Wouldn’t a purse with a designer look be considered vanity? BTW, I noticed the bag because I have the original verison of the same one.
Love this site! Yea, when I watched last night and I heard Jeremiah say that men don’t shop I was like… LIE!!! I live in Lancaster and I see Amish men shopping all the time. They are really making the Amish look bad.
Don Key said:
Great work on getting the truth out.
I live in Lancaster County and our neighbors are Amish dairy farmers. Lancaster Amish have had a lot of experience with English through tourism and tend to be more open and liberal. But even with that exposure, they don’t act like the kids on this show. You can tell these kids have been out in the world for a while.
There was a BBC series “Amish on Break” that relocated some western Amish to England for a summer. Their reactions were genuine. They had a mixture of wonder and distrust for what they saw, always with an overriding and strict religious perspective on things.
The so-called Amish TLC presents here pretend to be slack-jawed yokels gawking at skyscrapers and microwaves. They’re rude, obnoxious, and entitled. They’ve obviously been exposed to the reality shows tropes (behave badly for more screen time) and are playing this like an Amish Jersey Shore. This may make for good entertainment but it’s a grossly inaccurate portrayal of the Amish. The Amish aren’t perfect by any means, but this show does them a great disservice.
John Stoltzfus said:
Thanks for all the back ground on these so called kids, they are definately fake about just leaving the Amish. Now not only do I personally know Katie Ann, (niece), Abe is listed as a Smucker, however I am wondering if it’s not Smoker, because there is a boy (man now) that left the Amish probably 5 years ago and it really sounds like the same guy, wonder if he changed his last name. The Smoker family in that KY settlement is step relation to my wife, her mother was married to his grandfather, anyhow if it’s the same guy. What a twist –
Brad Igou said:
Thanks for your posts. You hit lots of nails on the head…perhaps not yet enough to drive closed the coffin. I used some of your information in an interview last night here in Pennsylvania CBS-21 and also in our Amish Country News articles. I would enjoy meeting you sometime, if you ever get around Lancaster.
The URL below is to the TV interview with a few things you may want to add to your posts… such as the email I received asking help in staging the Amish wedding that will be coming up…
Also, the same production company, Hot Snakes, is working on another Amish reality TV show for the Discovery Channel. They were here in Lancaster asking for a release for some filming they did. We declined to sign it. The release form said the show is as yet untitled.
Your interview, which I saw last night, made me very happy. Good job on that! As far as I know, that was the first time that the accuracy of Breaking Amish was questioned on television. I just hope the story hits national television soon.
I particularly liked the new evidence you brought to light in the interview–the letter asking for wedding guests. I’ll note that in an upcoming post.
I have never actually been in the Lancaster area but if I ever do, I’ll definitely keep your information in mind.
Would it be possible for you to forward that email to me (or at least a picture of it), so that I can use it in my next update? I would of course credit you and your website. My email address is xamishatheistATgmailDOTcom.
don key said:
Wow, Brad Igou weighs in. With the exception, perhaps, of Donald Kraybill, I think no one has more expertise on the Amish than you. Your involvement in getting the truth out carries a lot of weight. Great interview.
In the scene where the girls are exploring the bathroom, Rebecca muses about calling people from the bathroom telephone. Now who could she possibly call if she just left her Amish farm for the very first time?
I’ve emailed links to your posts about this show to Entertainment Weekly & asked them to please investigate and report on this so America knows they’re being duped. I think we all understand at this point that there’s a lot of fiction in our reality tv, but we all like to believe there’s at least a grain of truth in the premise and people on the show. To have created a show like this out of whole cloth and be passing it off on us as ‘reality’ is just wrong. I’m hoping EW will look into it further.
Thanks for helping to get the word out there!
Don Key said:
I think it’s fairly certain that TLC won’t care about this so long as people keep watching. If anything, the controversy is probably going to help their ratings.
What they will care about is if sponsors start dropping them. What I’ve begun to do is to make note of who advertises on the show and then contact them to let them know how dishonest and disrespectful the show is to the Amish. No threats of boycott or anything like that, just making them aware of what they’ve unwittingly become part of.
If you live in PA, IN, or OH (which have very large Amish communities) you might also consider contacting your local representatives. When Amish in the City was announced, several PA politicians spoke out very vocally about the show on behalf of the Amish. (Of course, it turned out that show, although not enitrely accurate, was at least sympathetic and respectful to the Amish kids.)
Why doesn’t anyone ever do this for the kardashians?? Only the Amish get to be shown as fake? Seriously…
Aren’t Amish young adults allowed to freely go out into the world for a time to experience it before they are baptized make sure they’re ready?
The reason I ask is that they make it sound like leaving the community is unheard of.
Don Key said:
That’s rumspringa you’re referring to, but the media has grossly distorted that. Most Amish youth don’t leave their community during this time. Some may experiment with cars, drugs, alcohol, and English dress and technology, but most don’t. Most just use the time to date with an eye towards marriage. Also, the kids on Breaking Amish are not presented as being on rumspringa. It’s also implied that they’ll be permanently shunned from the community for taking part in the show. In fact, the very point of the ban is to bring rebellious Amish back into the community. If they return and repent, they’ll be accepted back. Most just decide not to return.
Thank you for explaining this. I thought that was odd too. I will say that investigating the controversy over this show has been educational for me, I’ve learned about Hutterites this morning and more about the Amish & Mennonite community than I ever knew before. As a Jew who has become a Christian, I am an open-minded, tolerant person who believes in forgiveness and love. I enjoy learning more about everyone’s faith & beliefs and was hoping this show would teach me something new instead of a pack of lies. Shame on you, TLC.
Like many I’ve always been fascinated with the Amish, so I eagerly anticipated this show. I also grew up, and live, in Manhattan. To say that so much of this is fake becomes more apparent with repeated viewings and is very disappointing. TLC should have made an accurate documentary to show the truth about this fascinating culture but instead decided to produce a circus side show, analogous to the bearded lady and 3 headed dog. While I will continue to watch to see how my “evil” city is portrayed, I will become more and more disappointed. In addition, they couldn’t figure out a better way to get conflict and boost ratings…other than getting these young people intoxicated?
Thought you’d like to know that Comcast posted an article about the show, and even referenced your site (which his how I found it). Here is a link:
I have not seen the show myself, for 2 reasons, the first being I don’t even get the TLC channel and the second being that I generally despise most so-called “reality” TV shows. I concluded a long time ago that “reality” TV is no more reality than regular scripted television.
I live in Lebanon County PA myself, so I was quite surprised to read the information regarding Kate. The little knowledge I have of the Amish centers on the fact that they are decent, hardworking people. What’s also very sad about the show is that not only is TLC clearly trying to dupe it’s viewing audience, but it seems possible they’ve also duped these misguided young people. I get the impression, perhaps because of our tendency to “romanticize” things, that people have this idea that Amish communities don’t face the same struggles that those who live “normal” lives do. That is, if you can call our lives ‘normal’! Obviously, Amish communities face plenty of struggles and strife, some of it different. My point is, what is the problem with these “young” people that they would want to portray their communities or families in such a poor light or for that matter, with such distortion? Whatever their current opinion of their former communities may or may not be, I can’t believe they’ve become so calloused that they would want to disrespect their friends and family in such a distorted way.
Either they’ve become so morally bankrupt that they don’t care, or they really don’t have a clue as to how they are possibly being manipulated by their production company for the purpose of the shows ratings, which of course what television is all about.
I hope you and others will be successful in either getting TLC to admit that the show is scripted or rather have it run off the air. (Personally, I think the latter choice would be preferable). Because in my opinion, no matter what problems may exist within Amish communities or how these kids feel about their upbringing or families, etc., I think it’s distasteful for those things to be portrayed in such a distorted manner, that it gives those who are outside the community the wrong idea. I also think it’s insensitive and disgraceful that these young people would be willing accomplices to such distortions.
I am a person of faith myself, and I have done some past research into that aspect of Amish culture, and that is the one aspect of Amish culture that has always troubled me. That is, the very heavy legalistic usage of scripture, especially in such a way to control their communities. So to some degree, I understand your struggle and why you are in the place that you are. That’s a different topic for another time, and perhaps I shall write more at some point. (Feel free to contact me at my email address, which I assume shows up for you, should you wish to engage in further discussion). However, in spite of that legalistic aspect, I have a great deal of respect for the Amish. I might not agree with many aspects related to their interpretations of scripture, but I respect their right to govern their lives as they have chosen to do so. Also, the conduct and dignity of the Amish community that was so tragically affected by the shooting in Nickel Mines, PA several years ago, and how they reached out to the family of the shooter among other things, spoke volumes about the depth of their faith. I found myself hoping that I would be able to, because of my faith, have a similar attitude if circumstances ever resulted in my own children or family being harmed by another. I’m not saying it was easy for them either. But I also believe that out of something meant for evil, a different result was achieved.
I wish you well on your journey.
Thank you so much for taking the time to write that – it means a lot!
I found your blog from the links in Daily Mail article. Your research is one of the main sources – and the article is very visible on their first page. (But I’ve read some of your posts earlier too, linked from reddit).
I’ve seen the second episode of the show, and it seemed curious, and way more dramatic than one of the other shows that I’d seen previously about Amish kids exploring the outside world. It’s a real pity TLC chose to go dramatic with the show rather than do their research more properly, and to display them in a more appropriate (less dramatic and less rude behaviors, more of what they advertise they show in this program), especially since the Amish culture and habits can be interesting and exotic to those who don’t know much about them. The show would have been so interesting – and every single bit as watchable if they actually filmed what they advertised for.
I live in a small town in Indiana and work for Walmart as a cashier. I can absolutely say Amish men shop. They come through my lane daily. At times doing their familys complete grocery shopping either alone or just them and their children.
This has nothing to do with the validity of the show, but I was wondering why they would have the people in the show, especially the one from Lancaster, PA go to Philly International Airport and fly to New York. Driving would be easier and probably less time consuming considering the time it takes to go though security and get to the airport early for a flight. Obviously TLC wanted to show the reactions to being on an airplane, when taking one just did not make any sense.
This show just keeps getting more interesting of it being fake. Honesty, I believed it for a bit of watching about five minutes of the first show. Then I remembered talking with an Amish family back when I used to live in St. Louis. Amish are very private people. How in the world would TLC be able to do a casting call to an Amish “reservation”? Don’t know the exact name. Since Amish don’t watch tv or really have any communication outside of their community. I’m pretty sure TLC didn’t think any ex Amish would be watching the show. I LOVE your blog. I hope this show gets canceled.
I WAS crazy about this new show but now not so much. As a matter of fact, I don’t think i’ll watch it anymore. I could tell right off the bat, that these kids were not as innocent as they claim to be just by the way they talk and swear! it upsets me that TLC is trying to pull the wool over our eyes. the ONLY thing i want to know down the road is why does rebecca have FALSE teeth at the age of 20!!! Did love it but now that I know it’s fake, not watching it anymore. SHAME SHAME ON YOU T.L.C.!!!!!!!
Thanks for the ear-piercing thing. That’s one thing I was trying figure out, but I couldn’t get a close enough zoom on my computer to see if there were holes in the ears.
There is a couple things that bother me immensely about how the Amish are described in this show:
When they claim that they had to take showers with buckets. I have been to Amish people’s homes (in different communities) & they all had indoor plumbing–with hot & cold tap. They had modern sinks, showers, & commodes.
From what I heard, it’s only the Schwartzentruber community that forbids any type of indoor plumbing.
And the thing about the confusion of the light switch. Every Amish person I know is not unfamiliar with light switches. They had been in English places & had to use them–I mean, you go to a restaurant & sometimes you have to turn on the light in the restroom. Or they have visited English homes & used light switches. And the men use light switches often when working on construction sites–I know some who even install electrical lining in homes & businesses.
See, it’s stuff like this that makes us think that most Amish are still living in the early 1800’s. And it also makes Amish people seem one-dimensional. It’s not fair to them.
I saw a program the other day talking about the Amish sites in Lancaster. They focused on the tourist businesses run by the Amish. One Amish family had electricity in their home.
I guess this show bothers me because they are implying blanket statements about the Amish. And a lot of it is blatently false.
I hope my harangue doesn’t offend anyone.
Brad Igou said:
Thanks to Don Key for your kind comments. Chris Papst at CBS21 here told me he contacted Jeremiah’s wife and talked with her, but then he was no longer able to reach her. He believes that TLC reached her and perhaps bought her silence.Chris is continuing to investigate. We also know where Sabrina is working in Lancaster. Finally, for all reading this, if you want to see a really GOOD documentary on the Amish, see the one broadcast by PBS recently, which is also on DVD. It is superb, beautifully photographed, and Dr. Don Kraybill and others respectfully worked on the segments.
Jay Thompson said:
When the Amish/Mennonite kids arrived in NY they of course were wearing their traditional Amish clothing. At one point they were even made fun of when someone said something about the pilgrims are here, or along that line. One of the first things they did was get English clothing, which makes sense. They were wearing their English clothing at one point, and then Abe’s mother and Rebecca’s grandfather suddenly showed up. You see them out the window arriving unannounced to the hotel. Next thing you know they are back in their religious clothing again. Now they supposedly did not know that these relatives were arriving, so why would they be back in their Amish clothes? Tonights episode Sabrina decided to hire a private detective (like where did they get the money for that?) to help her find her biological parents. In going there she was going to ride a crowded subway train for the first time and she was anxious about the trip alone. Well there she is in Mennonite clothing, and I wonder why on earth would she change out of her English clothing and put her Mennonite clothes on? Why would she want to stick out like a sore thumb in a crowded subway platform and train, it makes no sense? Also tonight we saw Kate on the stripper pole, just like a pro. Where on earth would she have learned that coming from an Amish family that has no tv’s? Then Abe and Rebecca go on their date, and get into a taxi. Abe said to take them to the nicest Mexican restaurant in town. Somehow they end up at a Chinese restaurant and order and use chopsticks like they had done that before. Now I know TLC has to be the ones paying for all of this because there is no way these kids can. I would hate to see the final bills when this show is done for the season. So far they have flown on an airplane, taken Taxi’s, stayed in a nice hotel, grocery shopped, shopped for clothes and shoes etc., Abe is taking driving lessons, Jeremiah got a tattoo, they all got new cell phones and obviously a calling plan so they could use those phones, eaten out numerous times (and not a McDonalds), bought sunglasses, went to a beauty salon and had their hair done, and Sabrina has hired a private detective, and the season has just started. The slang they use, the cussing (that they bleep out), and the way they sometimes treat each other doesn’t sound at all like people that have just left such strict religions. All TLC had to do was say at the very beginning say that this was a re-enactment of of events that actually happened played by the original people that experienced them (assuming that is even true). We live in a society where most people are internet saavy. How TLC thought that no one would discover their lies is beyond me.
I just happened to be searching for something interesting to watch and came upon the curious topic of the Amish lifestyle. It didn’t take me a minute to notice the language (cussing) and the fluency in speaking like people on the “outside”. Everytone looked and behaved fake, and none of the cast members (cause that’s what the are, TLC!) displayed the innocency one would have expected from someone who spent their entire lives in a strict community like I’ve heard the Amish to be. It was then that I googled “Breaking Amish lies” and came upon this page. Thanks for the expose`. Once again here’s the entertainment media who will stop at nothing to rake in profits, even if it means demeaning these God-fearing people who just want to be left alone. Shame…
Did you notice in theist recent episode, when Kate is trying on bikini’s, that she has a definitely belly button piercing? (Removed, of course- but no denying man made hole above the navel.) Tisk Tisk.
Pingback: TLC’s Breaking Amish: Timeline of a Scandal « X Amish Atheist
I just watched this on Netflix and was very offended by Jeremiah’s statement in the finale with the stripper issue. He said “this is what English do”. He portrays all “English” as immoral and selfish during this episode especially and through the whole thing. It was easy to see that this was a fake show, just by watching them and see how they so easily and quickly they slipped right into the vulgar language among other things. Highly disappointed in TLC. It is no longer the “Learning” channel to me.
Pingback: The Untold Truth About “Return to Amish”