The Amish on Television
- Is “Amish Mafia” real?
- Does “Breaking Amish” reflect reality for Amish youth?
- Why are there so many Amish television programs?
- Do the Amish ever watch TV?
- What programs or films are reliable sources of info on the Amish?
Is “Amish Mafia” real?
There is little to nothing that suggests an “Amish mafia” actually exists. Both Amish and non-Amish local citizens dispute the depictions presented on the show. Amish which we have spoken to on the matter have expressed exasperation, annoyance, or a sense of humor on the existence of a supposed behind-the-scenes group of “enforcers” in Amish society. What’s more likely is that producers have helped to spin a narrative around individual happenings.
In fact, when asked by a reporter about the “Amish mafia”, star of the show “Lebanon” Levi responded that “There is no Amish mafia. There’s the Amish Aid. The producers just came up with that name and thought it would be cool for TV. So, it’s all about Amish Aid – how Amish Aid runs.”
Does “Breaking Amish” show typical Amish youth experiences?
No. Though some youth engage in wild behavior, most Amish have a relatively tame Rumspringa experience. The experiences of youth on the show should not be considered typical or representative of what most Amish youth go through during adolescence.
Why are there so many Amish television programs?
One likely reason is that public fascination with the Amish and demand for information about them has created an opportunity for networks and production companies. Besides the above-mentioned “Amish Mafia” and “Breaking Amish“, Amish have been the subjects of home improvement series and made-for-television films, alongside programs about former Amish.
Do the Amish ever watch TV?
Amish do happen to view television from time to time, whether it is while visiting an English friend or neighbor, or in a public place or business such as a doctor’s office. Amish do not own televisions nor do they encourage watching them, however.
What programs or films are reliable sources of information about the Amish?
A good documentary is The Amish (PBS, 2012), made with extensive input from both Amish and academic experts. You can view that film in its entirety here. Burton Buller’s films The Amish: Backroads to Heaven (2007) and The Amish: How They Survive (2012) are also good choices.
- Hambright, Brett. “Is ‘Amish Mafia’ real or fake? Lancaster County viewers weigh in.” Lancaster Online. Lancaster Intelligencer Journal/New Era, 30 Dec. 2012. Web. Accessed 2 Mar. 2015.
- Falzone, Diana. “Amish Mafia’ star Levi Stoltzfus says some Amish are hypocrites.” Fox 411. Fox News, 2 Apr. 2015. Web. Accessed 16 Apr. 2015.
- Stevick, Richard A. Growing Up Amish: The Rumspringa Years. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.
To Cite this Page: Wesner, Erik J. “TV Shows.” Amish America. Erik Wesner, 28 Feb. 2015. Web. [Date Accessed]. <https://amishamerica.com/tv-shows/>.
Old TV image: Susan Adams/flickr
I got a 12-minute “intro” to the film, but the entire film is only available by purchase. Very sad. I wonder if my library will have it…
Documentaries about the Amish
There are two Documentary Films that are reliable sources of information about the Amish called The Amish a people of Preservation
One of the films was made in 1975 and the other in 2000 (which is a revisit of the film of 1975) Here are the links to the films:
The Amish – A People of Preservation 1975:
The Amish – A People of Preservation 2000:
A question about the movie WITNESS
I am an English teacher in Germany, and I have often used the 1985 film WITNESS in class to make students acquainted with the Amish. I love the film very much, but I know that some people have criticized it. I wonder what you think about the film?
Thank you and greetings from Germany
Weird Al Yankovic does a parody of Gangsta’s Paradise, called Amish Paradise. The song pokes a bit of fun at the Amish. Do the Amish generally appreciate the humor, or are they offended.
And a personal question for Erik: To my ear you have a distinct accent. Is it a regional accent?