What will the next Amish TV show be about?

I say “next”, because it’s pretty much inevitable there will be more television and film on the Amish.

What I’ve seen lately suggests as much. Over the past two weeks, I’ve been contacted on five separate occasions by people interested in presenting Amish on film (in a program or documentary).

While I do hear from people wanting to film the Amish from time to time, on a single day last week three emails arrived in my inbox in the same number of hours. I’ve never worked in television, but maybe this is program planning season?

We’ve also seen the success of current shows about the Amish, suggesting the trend will continue. Besides recent hits Amish Mafia and Breaking Amish, an upcoming addition to the slate is DIY network’s Vanilla Ice Goes Amish.

Vanilla Ice Goes AmishAt first look this show may seem absurd, with its premise of a 1990s rapper learning craftsmanship from the Amish.

Below the surface, this one may turn out to be more wholesome, and maybe even reality-based, than some other recent shows. Here’s the star discussing filming with a construction crew in Van Wert, Ohio:

Accuracy is of course a separate question.  Whether the Amish want these programs or not is as well. Viewers want programs about the Amish, so that is what they’re apt to continue getting.

If the reaction to some shows has been negative, that doesn’t mean that television about the Amish has to be oversimplified and/or sensationalized…even though that tends to be the sort of thing that sells.

Any predictions on what future programs about the Amish might cover?

Vanilla Ice Goes Amish photo: DIY network

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    1. City Slicker

      These “reality shows” — Amish themed or otherwise — are almost all as unreal as possible. I’m afraid to try to predict how much lower the “producers” can go and/or how much more like robots the viewing public could get.

      Newton Minow was right!

      1. sue

        I think the next show on the Amish should be about the puppy mills and how their other animals are treated.

    2. Eli

      Vanilla Ice goes Amish.

      I’m going back to bed 🙂

      1. Yes Eli, maybe it was too early in the morning to post this 😉

        1. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

          Vanilla Ice for a moment

          I cannot remember for the life of me the only reality show I’ve seen Vanilla Ice on, I remember seeing it, and I actually enjoyed it because it didn’t take itself too seriously considering all the B-list celebrities it had on it. There where fights on it, but when you have big personalities on in one house manure is going to hit the fan and it did. But I kind of have to say that although the rapper most known for “Ice Ice Baby” may still be trying to entertain it is good that the man seems to have grown up a lot and is actually trying to have a stable life for himself, and showing that you’ll never know where life will take you.

          Word to your mother.


    3. Naomi Wilson

      Oh no, I just wish they would stop.

    4. Janina

      I notice that talent shows are the new “big thing” on TV these days. At least in Belgium, but I think this trend comes from the USA with shows such as Idol, The Voice, So you think you can dance, etc. Or at least similar things where people show off their dancing skills or singing talent.

      My guess therefore would be that TV makers might think about an Amish talent show next. Let’s keep it general and assume they’ll look for Amish with any kind of talent: singing, dancing or maybe something more related to farming or cooking? Not sure if they would find actual Amish to participate (probably not), but knowing how TV works, they’ll find some actors to pretend to be Amish and show off some talents.

      I hope they don’t try it though. I think I’ve seen enough ridiculous TV shows. Hopefully they’ll realise people aren’t waiting for this so-called “reality TV” that has nothing to do with reality anymore. They should just stick to documentaries.

      1. Beatrice B

        Reality shows

        I am a German living in the US. I can not agree with you more, that they should stick with documentaries. When the came out with Big Brother. I think this show actually started in Holland. I thought it is ridiculous to have a camera in somebody’s house 24/7 for the whole world to see.
        My parents told me that they saw a documentary, which aired at Bayern 3 about the Amish in Montana and they build log houses. I checked it out at the internet. Since I do not have TV or cable.
        At this time and age, I just do not think documentaries sell anymore.

    5. Marty

      we can dream, can't we?

      Trash sells.. how nice it would be to (and how impossible), to follow a couple of families —- farm family and store owner—for 6 months. Just follow, not instigate, dramatize, inflame, etc.NARRATION VOICE OVER. True Amish would not allow it. It is a conundrum! Or a young couple from courting to marriage and first year of marriage. Fascinating and educational. Again, likely impossible. Or families working at the markets, women working on quilts–from concept to completion. Instead, we will get foul-mouthed ex Amish/Mennonite kids who are already messed up. Oh, goody

      1. It’s a lot harder to do a quality documentary like the PBS Amish film…the biggest issue producers face, unsurprisingly, is finding participants.

        Often you get an in-between solution, which is usually Amish who in some way aren’t quite traditionally Old Order Amish/on the way out of being Amish, or youth who haven’t joined church yet (nor are ever likely to).

    6. linda

      Amish TV

      Marty, I couldn’t agree with you more. Lets not show the good reality life of the Amish. lets show as much trash as we can. No wonder the True Amish are against this.

    7. Andrea Woodard

      Marty's statement

      I agree with Marty, these Amish or Mennonite kids are already trashed, they curse, and swear, get themselves pregnant and get discouraged about what is going on in their lives. We don’t need to see anymore of that. Show the true Amish and see what happens, ratings would probably drop considerably.

    8. The stories of their drivers

      The adventures of their driver

      1. That could be interesting Eli. There would probably be long chunks of time with drivers reading and/or snoozing in the front seat as they waited for the auction/singing/get-together to conclude 🙂 But could be interesting nonetheless.

    9. Debbie H

      To bad they can’t do a show like Marty suggested. Maybe more people would seek to live a more simple life. I know I am a dreamer but One can only hope.

    10. City Slicker

      Judging by the sensational shows about the Amish that have been or are currently telecast, about an hour too darn long!

      We can blame the producers or threaten to boycott the sponsors, but the harsh truth lies on the shoulders of the viewers who allow the shows into their homes.

      Unfortunately, as for hoping for a factual show about the Amish (or any other group)it seems reality doesn’t really sell.

      1. Reality doesn't sell...

        You may be right City Slicker. The real-reality-based PBS documentary was very successful, but it was a one-time 2-hour film.

        Not sure if a true-to-life series would sustain interest over a full network season…it may be that you need more drama, cliffhangers, and conflict than real life might provide.

        Then again, as we see by the many media stories involving Amish, just in the past few months, there may actually be enough of that in real Amish life.

    11. SharonR

      Next Amish TV Show

      I agree with most of these posts — I really hope they will just leave them alone, and not produce such “trashy”, and most times untrue stories about the Amish Culture. BUT, seems these days, “sensationalism” SELLS!!!

      I for one, did not watch ANY of the Amish films, (or reality shows, if you want to call them that), because I knew they would be “slanted”……I get my info about them, from other sources (more reliable), and think how good it would be if today’s society would “learn from them”, on their lifestyle and way of living, and following their faith. I do think it would be a better world……

      We just got back from a long distance trip, up north, visiting friends in Mitchell, IN, (and going to ORLEANS and SALEM), and savoring the flavor of the quiet, Amish life, along the way. Very peaceful and such beautiful farms, etc. Our friends have made friends with the Amish, buying some of their furniture, etc. for their Antique business. We had the pleasure of stopping by one of the Amish families’ farm, and buying some good homemade Blackberry Jam! And the Amish “mom” was very nice and hospitable. We did not linger, as farm chores were in process, and didn’t want to interrupt them, but was great to see their farm, little children running around, farm animals, etc.

      IF a producer would produce a TRUTHFUL documentary on Amish Culture, it would be a good one, and worth watching. But, I doubt that it would get many viewers — they live “simply” and that is just not what this new generation of TV Viewers wants.They also do not really want the “attention”, as they are only living the life they know….. I come from the age of “Ozzie & Harriet”, “Father Knows Best”, “Andy Griffith”, “Waltons”, and many more of the “cleaner, down-to-earth” series we once watched on TV — They all had a “lesson” or learn about LIFE, or a laugh about everyday occurances…….I think that era has passed —- only to be seen as “re-runs” — but how refreshing they were!!

    12. Forest

      They have a show now, called, I think “So You Think you Can Dance” Perhaps they will make one called “So You Think You Can Plow” or some such…. Folks would have to live like the Amish for 30 days, and see if they can survive.

      1. Dawn Akhbari

        It could be called "Surviving Amish Life"

        That would be awesome! Also some kind of cooking competition and cooking shows would be great.

    13. OldKat

      Who knows?

      I’m thinking that the next Amish (lack of) reality show will either be about; Mr. Yoder going to search for Sasquatch, Mr. Miller moving his family to Louisiana to become an alligator hunter OR Mr. and Mrs. Byler are abducted by aliens (green ones, not illegal ones)and they end up colonizing another planet. Any of which would be easily as believable as the drivel that they are currently passing off as “Amish”.

      1. Oldkat it may be as simple as taking a two-column chart and matching an item from Column A with one from Column B.

        Real Housewives of Amish Country.
        Storage Wars: Lancaster Barns N Attics.
        Plain Callers: The Auctioneers of Lancaster County.

      2. Cathie segal


        Great reply

        You brought a smile to my face

        Lets see maybe Amish Mafia takes over pinehurst


        LA Amish join with Schwartzentruber in Indiana.


      3. Matt

        There’s a fake Amish cigar-smoking Scotch-drinking fundamentalist ex-preacher running around the net wearing suspenders and a beard writing “Amish Sci-Fi.” Maybe that would fly with the networks.

    14. Carol

      Hi Erik, Yes, what’s next on the bandwagon? “Hollywood” gives people what they want; and in-so-doing it shows the sad mind set of people in general. Truth doesn’t sell. The bottom line is the almighty dollar at the expense of others. So very sad, indeed. Blessings to you and your family, Carol

    15. Mary Yoder

      Amish TV

      I happen to know the Amish guy with the white beard. The English guy with the trimmed beard looks pretty sharp, and now if you want my opinion on “What do we think will be the next Amish TV Show?” My sincere hope is that there won’t be more like what have been shown, altho I only saw snatches. A good show that is a story about real life seems like it would be just as popular.

      1. Mary Alice actually I think the perfect show would be one about the day-to-day workings of an Amish magazine publisher…know anyone who would fit the bill? 😉

    16. Alice Mary

      Some good ideas here...

      The first thing that came to my mind was a program about a young Amish woman who becomes a stripper in order to make money fast. I’m not sure, of course, if that’s already been done since I haven’t watched those other “Amish” programs of late (“Amish Mafia”, etc.). Something tells me it’d have a huge following.

      Reading some of the other ideas posted by others here sound intriguing, though, such as following a day (or more) in the life of an Amish “driver”. Then tour some of the businesses the Amish frequent (other than Walmart, I guess! 😉

      I’d be interested in seeing (up close–but no faces necessary) how Amish women teach their daughters sewing, making their own patterns, sewing with treadle machines), quilting (close-ups of all those “perfect, tiny stitches” I’ve read about), how to hitch up a horse to a manure spreader—honestly, I’d really like to see these skills being performed so that I can understand and appreciate them more (harvesting fruit & vegetables which then are prepared for the canning process, seeing the inside of a Spring house, etc., etc.).

      I’ll be having surgery in about 10 days, with a 2-week recovery period. I’m stocking up on Amish fiction & non-fiction (just purchased a copy of the Stevicks’ “Growing Up Amish: the teenage years.”) I don’t think I’ll need a whole lot more “entertainment” than that…besides, I need entertainment that’s conducive to HEALING! 🙂

      Alice Mary

      1. City Slicker

        Alice Mary

        Prayers for a successful surgery; a quick, painless recuperation; and a full recovery.

        1. Alice Mary

          City Slicker...

          Thank you for your kind words, thoughts & prayers; they are ALL greatly appreciated!

          Alice Mary

    17. As if on cue, I just got another email about an hour ago, from an overseas production company planning a series 🙂

      For whatever it’s worth, I have mixed feelings on “Amish TV”. If a well-done show proves to be educational or turns out to be a form of “quiet witness” brought to the masses (I realize that might be a contradiction in terms), it could be a good thing. Of course not all shows are designed to do either of those things.

    18. Margaret

      My tiny small experience

      I was in WY and met a young Amish couple. I could tell right away the girl was Amish by dress. I don’t recall seeing an apron–I don’t know if that’s mandatory. But she wore a scarf instead of any bonnet. I didn’t see any prayer kapp strings–so I can’t comment on that.

      I was super curious and happily I didn’t have my camera with me so I think they were more willing to chat. I’m pretty certain they recently got married cause the young man’s beard was pretty thin and short. They told me they were Old Order.

      I don’t remember seeing the man wearing any hat. It’s that’s mandatory for men to wear a hat?

      By dress it seemed a toned down version of themselves. Like they were trying NOT to bring attention to themselves but enjoying a vacation–or perhaps a later honeymoon. I know they had a driver. Which I’m sure costs a bundle and a half.

      It was interesting to see them in a part of the world you would least expect to see them. The young lady wouldn’t speak to me. It was the man who spoke. Are women sometimes forbidden to speak to the English?

    19. Lattice

      The BBC seems to have had a little better luck gaining the trust of those we might consider more authentically Amish. Even if the ones being featured are actually considering leaving the Amish lifestyle, there’s a quality about their productions which leave one feeling educated rather than shocked.

    20. wesley stinnett

      will not watch "amish" titled shows

      I told everyone in my close Family that I would not watch any program
      with Amish in the title and told them why!People tune in expecting to see real Amish and get a bunch of real losers, We have been to Ethridge Tenn.many times and like the people that are friendly toward us.

    21. Christine T

      I have to admit some of the possible new titles gave me a giggle.

      I throughly enjoyed Amish: Out of Order which Mose Gingerich was a part of. Wish there was more.

      1. Jasmine

        Reality shows

        I did enjoy the Out of Order programs and sorry that Mose Gingerich is no longer doing them. I so admire him for taking in the ones who wish to leave the Amish. I have watched just bits of the new Amish reality shows and they are absolutely ridiculous, so made up and so very unreal. You can see right through them. BTW, we just returned from Bloomfield, Cantril and Milton, Iowa where the Amish group is starting to enlarge. The bakery was wonderful as were the other shops. Can’t wait to go back.

    22. ShipshewanaIndiana

      Living With the Amish

      I really enjoyed the “Living with the Amish” series that aired in the UK. Granted they show you New Order and New New Order families without explaining that they are not Old Order, but at least the family in Episode 1 who also serves as the series narrator are true Old Order.

    23. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

      I want to see the actor who played Samuel in Witness to be dropped into a reasonably Old Order farm family and have it be called “Samuel’s Life” or something, instead of Ice Goes Amish or what. I’ve got nothing more except for some television title parodies for your enjoyment:

      Two and a Half Amish Men,
      Who Wants To Be A Swartzentruber?,
      Regional Road 31 [okay, I just threw out a road type and a number to parody “Coronation Street” since it seems the Amish live on roadways referred to as “Regional Road #),
      Hot In Shipshewana,
      The Church District Feud,
      The Andy Weaver Show,
      Bishop Mervin [a Bishop version of the quasi-judicial shows like “Judge Judy”],
      Howie Don’t Do It In Amish Country,
      Traditorama [remember the Simpsons “spin-off” Futurama?],

      Actually, if there was a decent Amish dramatic series I’d give it a try.

      1. Alice Mary


        SHOM, you crack me up! Some of those titles are a real hoot (Two and a Half Amish Men—jeeze, Louise!) And to be truthful, I’ve often asked myself, the same question, “Who wants to be a Swartzentruber?” I think your titles sound a lot more interesting than the “actual” ones (funnier, anyway).

        And I live about a mile and a half from Rt. 31 (OK, not the same as “Regional Road”, but it rang a bell).

        Alice Mary

        1. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

          @ Alice Mary

          I went with Regional Roads because I forgot about Routes, but from what I understand, it’s about the same idea, a road maintained by levels lower than the State/Province, right?

          You mentioned that you often asked “Who Wants To Be A Swartzentruber?”, I think I should point out that I didn’t mean it to be derogatory, I think my original idea was to have it sound like a bit of a recruitment game (even though I know that most Amish groups generally don’t recruit).

          I hope we’re all helping in your recovery from your recent medical experience.

    24. women not as social

      Erik, is there something about the Amish women, not being as social? I attended a company picnic with my husband, (the company is Amish owned, and my husband works for them) and the Amish women stayed off to themselves, and wouldn’t even acknowledge any of the English. The men however, were very forward in talking with us. I mentioned this to several other people, and they all said the same thing. I’m such an out going person, I was afraid I might have over step my boundaries. I mentioned this to a Mennonite friend, and she said she has been treated the same. I thought maybe they would have been a little more open to her, since she dresses conservative, hair covering included. @ Alice Mary, best wishes on a quick and healthy recovery. 😉

      1. Amish men more outgoing than women

        Sandy, I am not surprised by this–on balance Amish men in public are probably more outgoing than their wives with non-Amish. For one, I think this is partially a function of how men are considered head of the household and thus more apt to take a public role for a family, even if it is in engaging with English women.

        Also, maybe more important here is that these men are probably more accustomed to dealing with English people in general if they are involved in business, and hence more likely to engage with you.

        Of course there are some Amish women that turn this on its head, and could be broadly different in different communities. There are some very outgoing women in Lancaster County for instance that come to mind whom I wouldn’t see being shy in such a situation at all–often women who are also involved in business. I don’t know what community or other circumstances are involved here, but just some thoughts.

      2. Alice Mary

        Thank you for the kind wishes, Sandy! I’m sure I’ll be on this blog a LOT during my recovery, catching up on things. 🙂

        I also found your query about Amish women interesting. I have a friend who visited an Amish area & commented how unfriendly “everyone” was (men and women). I’m guessing it might have something to do with the particular community & maybe how close (or not) these women rub elbows with the English on a day to day basis (obviously, the men do, at work).

        Alice Mary

    25. How about “Doctor to the Amish”?

      1. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

        Great idea, Carol! I think that would be heart wrenching at times, but it would be better than the current crop. It would have to be done with a lot of respect though. I like that idea!

    26. Dirk

      I great show with many laughs would be one where ten city teenagers are stranded on a deserted Amish farm and they have to fend for themselves for thirty days with no help or instructions on how to do things.

      Be fun watching them learn how to use an axe to get firewood to heat the stove, getting the stove to work, getting eggs from angry chickens, making bread, using an outhouse, well first finding the outhouse and realizing what it is used for, trying to milk the cow, harvesting vegetables, killing a chiken and defeathering it in order to cook a meal from scratch. Them figuring out how they are going to bath with no indoor plubming, wash their clothes, light the laterns and 101 other things that Amish take for granted that city teenagers have never even heard of or encountered.

      Reward, if they can catch the horse and get it harnessed to the buggy, they can go to town once a week in the buggy and get supplies to the value of $100. I wonder if their first order would be pizza instead of toilet paper.
      It would be like watching how modern folk would react if they were time travelled back 200 years.

      Those poor city kids are going to starve, do they even know that potatoes and carrots grow under the ground? That roosters crow at 4am, the size of the bugs found in the country, how dirty one gets from being outside in nature, etc. They will most likely be so traumatised by country living that they will never again step foot out of a city environment.

      1. Beatrice B

        Reply to Dirk

        I do not think, it just the teenagers from the city. My dad sent me his scythe from Germany and it took me a while to explain it to the custom, what it is and what I use it for.
        The lady was surprised, that there are people out there, who still mow that way.

    27. Everett

      English to Amish

      I don’t know if someone mentioned this already (I haven’t read through all of the posts), but I think it would be great to see a show about some of us “English” trying to make it in an Amish community. I’d prefer a documentary of some people with a real intent on becoming Amish. I know there was the reality show with the teens from England who came to America to try out the Amish ways, but I think a sociological study of people who are serious about going Amish would be a great show. It may also settle the question for many out there who have always thought it would be nice to be Amish.

    28. Sandra Kathleen

      I think topics of specific events shown for no more than 6 2-Hr episodes would be informative and entertaining. Some ideas:

      Courting & Wedding Traditions;

      Cooking for/ Organizing a Barn-Raising from different perspectives right from the decision to have one until completion and clean-up;

      Developing a new community;

      A year on the farm;

      Movies based on some of the works of my favorite authors would be informative and entertaining if they weren’t produced too tritely or sensationaly.

      On a more serious note, it’d be great to have panel discussions of religious thought that included Amish, Mennonite, Brethren, etc….a Bill Moyers’ project??

      Here’s the thing, though: TV is not generally about reality. It’s about perceptions that are being manipulated, usually artificially.

      Can we really know a person from a soundbite of his or her day?

      No matter what is done in developing a program, much of the essence of REAL will be lost. A “reality show” is just that: a show.

    29. City Slicker

      …premieres tomorrow night (Saturday 10/12) on the DIY Channel, if anyone is interested.

    30. Adair

      I’m a bit late to all this “reality” TV. I caught a glimpse of one a couple of years ago, unfortunately, and today I caught more than a glimpse. This afternoon I had a lot of cooking to do and so I turned on the TV and selected the TLC channel which was airing lots of episodes, back to back, of something called “Return to Amish”. I watched about two and a half episodes (my hands being too full of chicken gunk to easily handle the remote to turn it off earlier). WHO dreams up this stuff?? And more importantly, HOW can they air something so obviously fake that a 5-year-old could see right through it? WHO is the intended audience? Is the American public really so hopelessly ignorant and gullible?

    31. Melissa W.

      Next Amish Reality Show Believe it or Not!

      Well, The question, “What will the next Amish reality show be about?” can now be answered. Airing at 9:00p.m. EST on Sunday, Sept. 14 on Destination America is Amish Haunting. This show purports to showcase “Amish” people recounting their experiences with ghosts or spirits. I guess, with the proliferation of “haunting” shows on t.v. in the last several years, this was inevitable. Sorry, I don’t have the URL of the website, but if one just types in Destination America or Amish Haunting tv show, it should come up. The details are sketchy at this time, but they will probably start teaser ads fairly soon, advertising the show. I will probably tune in at least once, just to satisfy my all-too-human morbid curiosity.

      1. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

        Oh my. Thank you on behalf of “Amish America” for the “warning”

        Personally, I have a distaste for ghost stories on television unless its late October.