For these 5 young ex-Amish adults, life in the “English” world is not getting easier.
When I first wrote about last season of Breaking Amish, it had been very controversial and many questions arose. TLC has been receiving tons of flak for the authenticity of the show. Basically, for playing fast and loose with the term reality. You see what TLC wants you to see. Confusing pictures on the Internet surfaced. Apparently, everyone’s got a mugshot. Other scandals included pictures of Sabrina with a boyfriend or “husband”, Rebecca’s baby, and Jerimiahs experience outside of the Amish before the show. They slowly unfolded the truth, casually dropping a line this season telling the audience Jerimiah has kids. No one knew this, it was never brought up, we don’t even know where they are or how many kids he has. This late admittance of the truth doesn’t surprise Breaking Amish viewers. It is what we have come to expect, especially after watching the show. The cast members still embody the mysterious and secretive nature of Amish culture.
In the first part of the reunion show “Breaking Amish: The Shunning Truth”, Abe and Rebecca admitted they are expecting. She also claimed that her baby from her first marriage is with them in Florida, just merely kept off screen. The baby probably should be kept further away than that because of this environment.
In part 2 of the Shunning Truth, I am waiting for Rebecca to finally admit she slept with Abe’s sketchy brother. I can tell when she is lying, it happens all the time, she is always lying so no surprises here. I also think this baby she is expecting with Abe is a way to dig her claws in even further to him and his family. She is controlling. There’s no way around it. I am excited to see what juicy lies are unveiled in the second part of The Shunning Truth.
Even though the Amish don’t have cable, apparently they heard the show has given the Amish everywhere a bad name. This season, the original cast is reunited in an Amish beach town in Sarasota, Florida. A vacation spot for Amish and ex-Amish, the gang is constantly being harassed because of things they claimed during the first season. People who confront them in restaurants, at bars, or at parties always bring up the same thing: They filmed Jerimiah and Abe claiming bestiality to be “more common than people think,” in Amish men. I assumed the city dweller stereotype that a small percentage of farmers and rural citizens were zoophiles, not just the Amish. It is unsettling, but the treatment of these young adults that followed them expressing their opinion was much worse.
The aggressive and volatile nature of how people have defended these allegations make them appear more suspicious and almost proves them true. It underlines how the Amish are focusing on the negative and ignoring completely the valid complaints and struggles of these ex-Amish kids. The concept does disturb the audience, but not as much as the psychological and oppressive educational environments these ex-Amish grew up in. The constant threats of “hell”, harassing letters, condemnation of them by complete strangers on the street: all of these actions make the Amish look worse than anything the cast members have said.
It’s hard to tell whether or not the shows producers set up each situation for the cameras. It seems odd how they always have the right person at the right time. For example, some random “friend” of Abe and Rebecca’s came running into their new Sarasota home like a bat out of hell looking to beat up cast member Jeremiah for sleeping with his fiance. I assume TLC paid for his plane ticket because of the lovely opening shot they got of him down the street. It all seems a bit too convenient. I wonder if people will ever believe the show is genuine.
The harsh reality is that the Amish will shun the cast no matter what they say. Seeing the gang in Miami was like a breath of fresh air. Finally, a place they won’t be confronted by strangers preaching morality and pro-Amish defense.
A touching moment in this season is Abe’s mom Mary and her freeing, accepting ways. She hugs her son for the first time. She refuses to allow him to be shunned because of his descisions. Mary even supports another child of hers, Katie Anne, in her decision to leave the Amish. Unfortunately, not all Amish parents are as accepting and free-spirited as Mary, with her jarred meats and vodka cranberry obsession. What a badass. I love watching Abe’s Mom get hit on by Big Bob the banjo player. She just draws people to her with her sunny disposition. She stands up for the kids. But who can resist her charm?
I can’t help but feel the show is staged, still. For example, the “friend” of Kate’s who just casually shows the other cast members a video of what I only assume is her nude/in a compromising position of some sort. Poor Kate. Who appeared to be sort of bizarre in the first season, Kate is definitely the most normal and well-adjusted to ex-Amish life this season. I feel as though she is the voice of reason sometimes pointing out what the others are too afraid to admit, not about Amish culture, but about themselves and their demons.
After watching 5 episodes of Brave New World, I am skeptical that the cameras should even be rolling. I consider myself accustomed to reality TV exploiting peoples lives. Yet, there are times where I feel dirty just watching it. TLC is exposing the Amish lifestyle to the world. That means this very private culture is open for judgement. And now the Amish are furious at the shows cast for allowing video cameras to roll and letting the world judge them. They are blaming these 5 kids for every single problem within Amish culture, denying everything, and not taking responsibility for the casts individualized and valid experiences. Basically, the Amish have tasted their own medicine and it is bitter.
It’s no secret that the cast should live as far as possible from Amish communities in order to avoid harassment. They have not just been “shunned” by the Amish in Punxsutawney, but every Amish community in the United States. I see a total cutting of ties from the Amish as the only solution, but it is easier said than done. The whole concept of Brave New World is that they don’t fit in with the Amish nor with the English. They are stuck in the middle of two overwhelmingly different ways of life. Each is desperately looking for an identity to cling on to, which is easy to relate to. Our differences get smaller and smaller as the mystery of who they are unfolds. Aren’t we all just in search of a place to belong?
The show is popular, so much so that it has also inspired a new crop of Amish and Menonite twenty-somethings to run away. This time, these poor kids will be thrown into the cultural tailspin that is Los Angeles. As if adjusting to life isn’t hard enough, they have to do it in on television. Although having everything caught on tape has proved to be a huge downfall for the cast of Brave New World, that’s not stopping them. Here’s a sneak peak at Breaking Amish LA.