Breaking Amish in Pinecraft

From a report on filming “Breaking Amish” season 2, in the Florida Amish community of Pinecraft:

“We’re only eight blocks wide. They had approached almost every Amish-owned business in the village asking if they could film. They were turned down by all but two businesses,” said Sherry Gore, a nationally known cookbook author in Pinecraft and who had an appearance in a rival production company’s documentary “Amish: Out of Order” on National Geographic.

Among the businesses that allowed filming are Alma Sue’s Quilts and Der Dutchman restaurant, which gave the OK from a corporate level. When dealing with “reality” shows, producers can suggest situations to participants that may detract from reality. Local management made sure they wouldn’t participate in those scenarious, including one scene when management was asked to not hire an employee because they were not Amish or Mennonite. (Several members of the staff aren’t Amish or Mennonite anyway.)

While in Ohio recently the second-biggest topic of conversation (after the Sam Mullet verdict) was the recent heavy portrayal of Amish on TV.  Paraphrasing one Amish friend’s thoughts, “it used to be ‘sex and violence’, and now it’s ‘sex, violence, and Amish'”.

We had a long discussion about why his people are getting so much attention in the media today.  There’s more than one answer to that question, but in the case of these shows, the “titillation factor”, as he suggests, probably has much to do with it.

It looks like both the past year’s big Amish-themed programs, “Amish Mafia” and “Breaking Amish“, are getting second seasons.

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    1. Margaret

      Sorry but I’d rather read great Amish fiction by Beverly Lewis and Wanda Brunstetter who have roots back to Lancaster.

      Newer authoress Amy Clipston, Shelley Shepard Gray (and I forget the third–it happens..)are much better. You may think life is slow and perhaps it is in the Amish world. Ours is about who can get over whom the fastest. And while kids do break away how many of them will return–in the world of reality tv? We won’t hear about it. But one has to feel for both sides. Hearts do ache–even parents who must shun there kids.

      One thing I saw last season were kids in New York spending heaven only knows how much money. A kid running on their own? I’m sorry but without the skill set that mainstream America lives in–most are in trouble before they walk out the back door.

      The grass is ALWAYS greener on the other side. Watch your horses graze. They rarely will stay put. They’ll munch here and there. They might even walk across their field cause they spotted a tasty little morsel. It’s the same for the kids.

      Rumspringa is good. It would better in a big city like New York with some kind support system in place. Just to make sure the kids don’t get In way over their heads.

      Think I’ll take a pass on season 2. I respect Amish too much to fill my home with this garbage. And Amish Mafia? Definitely take a pass.

      1. Amish 'bonnet fiction'

        I feel that Amish romance books by Lewis, Brunstetter, etc. are just as exploitative of the Amish as ‘Amish Reality’ shows. Those books are like the shows, a tiny bit of truth with a lot of far-fetched malarkey. You may say, oh but they have roots to the Lancaster area, but so do the actors on the shows. I’ve read a Beverly Lewis book and it is just as ridiculous a representation of the Amish as the shows, which I’ve also seen.

        1. Tom Geist

          Amish 'bonnet fiction'

          Thanks Rachel for your thoughts, they echo mine. Fiction is fiction. The sky is not going to fall if these shows and the books are made. Some Amish might feel like it’s “sex, violence and Amish” but Amish are way down the list in most peoples minds.
          Most people know what kind of people the Amish really are. If they don’t, and if they think all Amish are like those in the fiction books and reality TV shows they will just have to learn different.

        2. Margaret

          Perhaps. But if you follow many of her books (those that have 3-5 volumes to the series)you see many people questioning their beliefs. You see angonizing repercussions of shunning.

          Life is not a bowl of cherries. And I bet even Amish have their fair share of folks in their community they don’t like. We are all human.

          The books I referred to are FICTION. I’m not sure how you can relate that to reality tv since the characters aren’t real.

          Many horse advocates HATE New Holland–the auction there. They see Amish employees abuse horses endlessly. They have no tolerance for the Amish because of this. I see this as part of the struggle WE ALL have in this country.

          I’d rather read a well developed story (no matter how utterly silly the premise might be)and fall into a world that is just slower paced than the crazy world that I’m a part of.

          I’m sorry we don’t agree. I hope despite our differences we can agree to disagree and still respect one another. We all can learn from one another.

          1. Tom Geist

            Amish 'bonnet fiction'


            You said…”The books I referred to are FICTION. I’m not sure how you can relate that to reality tv since the characters aren’t real.”

            Fiction, to me at least, means something that is not real, as in they do not depict life as it really is. On reality shows you have live people but they do not always depict life how it really is, just as in the books you read.

            1. Allure of Amish novels

              Interesting coincidence to see this discussion pop up. A day or two before this post I received a review copy of Valerie Weaver-Zercher’s new book on Amish fiction (“Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure of Amish Romance Novels”).

              I haven’t read any of it yet, but I expect I’ll learn a lot. I also like what’s hinted at by some of the chapter titles I’ve skimmed: “Amish Reading Amish”; “Something Borrowed, Something True”; “Slap a Bonnet on the Cover”.

              Here’s Valerie’s interview on this topic from 2011:

      2. Roberta Klooster

        Give me a good book instead

        I so agree with Margaret. I would rather read good books written by Beverly Lewis, etc., authors who have some actual experience in their families in Amish culture and whose books reflect Biblical character and the things the Amish actually deal with. The T.V. shows are not good and I wish they hadn’t started this “fad”. But then, I don’t like T.V. anyway.

    2. Naomi Wilson

      Part of a bigger picture?

      I’ve been noticing a lot of attempts in the media lately to make the Christian faith look “dumb,” (that seems to be the word du jour) lately. I will admit, I used to think that conservative Christians were a little crazy to complain about how they face prejudice or even persecution, but lately I am being convinced otherwise, simply by the headlines I see. I do not believe that shows are programmed because “they are what the people want.” I have never met a single person who admits to enjoying reality tv. I think tv programming exists purely to influence people’s tastes and attitudes. I feel like lately the Amish are being exploited as part of an overall trend. I admit, I have not seen any of these shows.

      1. Claire

        Part of a Bigger Picture . . . . . . reply

        Naomi, I agree with your statement “I think tv programming exists purely to influence people’s tastes and attitudes.” For over 20 years now my husband & I have watched mainstream tv programing and tv network news casters working to reshape viewer thinking.

    3. Reality TV?

      “Reality TV” is an oxymoron. The only “reality” on television is the weather forecast. Even the “news” is structured to reflect the beliefs of the producers. If people want to know the truth about Amish lifestyle they will just have to make friends with a whole lot of Amish people. Just like people everywhere, Amish folks are individuals.

    4. From the Hot Snakes website, the Production company of Breaking Amish and Amish Mafia:
      “Hot Snakes Media focuses on the creation and development of highly irreverent and unique alternative television concepts. We work with the most innovative and talented editors, videographers, producers and creative minds in the industry.”

    5. Carolyn B

      I recently got the chance to see a commercial for Amish Mafia. If it wasn’t so pitiful, I’d have laughed. No way is this close to a portrayal of Amish men except by birth, as another commenter has stated on another thread.

      I’m glad the Pinecraft majority had the wisdom to tell Breaking Amish,”not in my house.”

    6. How can I find a place to rent in Pinecraft next winter ? Thanks

      1. Francis

        renting in pinecraft

        I don’t know if you will find much “in” pincraft. It’s a small little community (about 8-9 square blocks) in the middle of a very busy city, but it is spring soon and most of the snowbirds are going to be heading back north. try the Sarasota Tribune, you might find something near-by.

      2. Sadie

        I have seen ads in The Budget for rentals or for homes for purchase available either in or just outside Pinecraft. Maybe that will help? Good luck!

    7. Alice Mary

      Fiction with a capital "F"

      I agree with Margaret regarding reading Amish fiction. And it IS “fiction”. The “bits” of truth one can extract from it can also be found in non-fiction works, such as writings by S. Nolt, etc., as are often referred to here by Erik (another NON-fiction writer) :). However, I enjoy the “entertainment factor” of fiction at least some of the time.

      I’ve been reading (and working in libraries, volunteering in schools) for a good long time, and I certainly am familiar with the difference between fiction and non-fiction. I enjoy both. The Amish fiction Margaret mentions is slower-paced, relatively peaceful, and not full of curse words (I work in the children’s dept., so I have to be cognizant of such things). I call them my “Amish fairy tales”. When you come right down to it, the same “malarkey” can be said of Samuel Clemens, Shakespeare, Beatrix Potter, Steven King, etc. There are bits of truth throughout all of their work, but they’re still filed under “fiction” in my library. (When we give tours to school groups, we emphasize the difference between the two…and we know they’re listening, because they often come back and ask for a “refresher”—“non”-fiction, especially, seems to be a difficult concept for them to understand!)

      That said, I still doubt I’ll tune into ANY “Amish-related ‘reality’ TV” anytime soon! 🙂

      Alice Mary

      1. Lattice

        Alice Mary, I liked your point about other works of fiction having their share of “malarkey.” Even the more reality-based works (obvious exclusions: vampires and wizards).

        It seems that Amish Fiction makes a particular group of people blazing mad. From what I gather, there is a concern that the rosy Amish picture that Amish Fiction presents might make readers doubt the reports of abuse from some of the Ex-Amish, as well as prevent realization that most Amish are not really “saved” (That is not my belief, I’m only summarizing the concerns I’ve read, based on the “blazing mad” people’s concerns.)

        I don’t read fiction at all, yet I have a pretty “rosy” picture of the Amish nonetheless. Not perfect, but definitely rosy.

    8. Liz

      Amish should know better than participating in this nonsense.

    9. Loretta T

      Breaking Amish

      If you like ‘smut’ then I would suggest watching “Breaking Amish”.
      It is so sad to see this TV show portraying the Amish in such an unlikely way.
      We go to Arthur, Il every yr and have learned so much about the Amish/Mennanites in this area and the TV show is nothing like these people. The folks around here, who know about our trip to Il, are wondering why we would want to be around the Amish if they are like those on “Breaking Amish”.
      I think it is so sad to ruin their wholesome reputation.
      One Author who writes of the Amish is Woodsmall. She is the most accurate. Most other authors are way off the mark most of the time.

    10. Sadie

      Books and Shows

      The first book I ever read in the “genre” of “Amish fiction” or “Amish romance” was by Beverly Lewis.

      Yet, quickly I realized most of her books follow this formula: Old Order Amish girl or boy falls in love with someone of the opposite sex, but the one they love belongs to a “higher” church; OOA girl or boy leaves their church, marries in the “higher” one, and is saved by learning all the “right” things from the “higher” group (usually Mennonite).

      I know they’re fiction. I know Ms. Lewis can write whatever she wants! If people enjoy it, that is wonderful. But I was a little upset when each book of hers I read seemed to be devoted to trying to teach readers about how much better the Mennonite etc. churches are. That is just me, though.

      I really like the books by Linda Byler, now being published in a mass-market type novel rather than the original smaller books. My other favorite authors in this genre are Dale Cramer and Jerry Eicher. They are interesting, fun, and aren’t hmm “preachy”! That must sound so bad!

    11. Effort to Tear down Good

      I hate the series because I feel it is an effort to breakdown what all believe is good and simple. They try to make the Amish life dirty. Sure, like others have said this is “fiction” but why do they have to act like there is some secret evilness in these people just because they are mysterious to them. Can’t it just be that these people are good, quiet people, that believe differently and want to enjoy peace. Does’t the idea of a “Amish Mafia” defy the idea that Amish epitomize being pacifistic? There is a governing body in the Amish communities and it is the church. It is something well known among them. Peer pressure is the way they handle things that are outside of their beliefs, not strong arming or violence…..just on my soap box every time I see or hear anything like this.

    12. John

      For the Truth and show Updates

      Dave Crill from Archangel Investigations, LLC from Lancaster, PA, has a passion to find out the truth about the Amish Mafia and expose the inconsistencies.
      For more info;

    13. SharonR

      Breaking Amish in Pinecraft

      I have been to Pinecraft and found it to be a nice little section of Florida, and reality TV has no place there! Leave them be! Of course, I’m one of those who do not watch any “reality” shows, as I find them a waste of time and never have seen Breaking Amish or Amish Mafia — and don’t care to.

      As far as Beverly Lewis, I have read almost all of her books — they are fun and “entertaining” to me, plus gives a little bit of “historical” info, as well. I also intend to branch out, after my next book of hers, to other authors that are more “fact” driven and truthful, and not all fiction……but like others have said, on this issue, fiction is a nice “reprieve” from our everyday lives, and gives a little bit of entertainment, when the TV is not ON!

      Just my opinion and thoughts — as we all are humans and have different ways of life and how we live it. Peace to all!

    14. Ed

      I havent read Amish fiction books, but I think folks understand it to be fiction. I have nothing against fiction, indeed, powerful lessons can be conveyed through fiction.

      I do have a problem with “reality” television creating obviously contrived and fictional situations and passing it off as real life, especially when they purport to educate us about another culture.

      Sorry to hear that the producers of a show managed to scam two Amish businesses in Pinecraft. I think that the Amish are going to wise up to this real fast. Or perhaps there is some benefit for a business to be featured on such a show – there’s an adage that even bad publicity is better than no publicity. In any event it would be interesting to hear from the business owners themselves after the show comes out.

    15. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      Man Vs Food Episode

      What was the reception of the Amish/Mennonite community toward the airing of the restaurant run by a plain woman on the series “Man V Food”?

      I know MVF isn’t the same as Breaking Amish or Amish Mafia, but I wondered what the consensus was on the episode.

    16. Der Dutchman did not agree?

      According to a recent press release it looks like the corporate side of Der Dutchman was not aware that they were going to be used as a backdrop for scenes from Breaking Amish. When these kinds of press releases come out it often sounds like backtracking on a bad decision, but in this case I’d give the benefit of the doubt to the Dutchman. I can understand why they wouldn’t want to be publicly associated with this show given who eats there.

      The ‘rest of the story’ is that the production company had made arrangements to come into Der Dutchman to have a meal together. They had a party of twenty-five. When they arrived for their meal they asked the manager on duty if they could film the group while they were eating.

      Willard Schlabach, the general manager, felt that no harm would be done by having them film something that actually was happening. He did not anticipate that they would ‘stage’ something to film while they were having their meal as a group.