"Meet The Hutterites" is Nat Geo's latest series exploring "American outliers", groups that live on the margins and don't get a ton of publicity. The series debuted Tuesday evening.
Sheesh...what a show. Whereas the companion series "Amish: Out Of Order" focuses mainly on ex-Amish, this show delves into an actual Hutterite colony. The first episode centers around a 52-year-old widowed mother, Bertha Hofer and the struggles she faces raising her three children in an increasingly modern world while balancing the age-old traditions of the Hutterites. Not an easy balancing act! Bertha Hofer steals the show with an absolutely endearing mix of gruff grumpiness and tenderness towards her children. She was great! One of Bertha's daughter,s 19-year-old Claudia, acts as the second show stealer with her precocious rebelliousness. The series will probably pivot around these two and their interactions and decisions.
I think the show is worth watching because it does provide some great teaching moments (such as when Bertha described the various colonies and how they ascribe to varying levels of strictness in their theology and lifestyle). My only real criticism isn't a criticism it's a "buyer beware." There are almost 350 Hutterite colonies in Canada and about half that in the US...the series focuses on a handful of people from one colony who have agreed to be filmed, I'm not sure how representative they are of Hutterites as a whole. I'm not saying they are or aren't, just saying I'm not sure. And - spoiler - I refuse to believe that some of this isn't scripted. For instance, at the end where Bertha Hofer pulls out her cell phone and sees a text saying "The Elders are Coming." That just seemed a bit contrived and if there's too much of that, you begin to wonder what else is contrived. That's more of a problem with the "reality show" (docu-tainment) genre in general, though. Does anyone really think MTV's Jersey Shore is completely unscripted? Now before people jump on me as a sourpuss, I'm not...I'm just raising questions. It was an enjoyable show and I look forward to more episodes! Did you watch it, what did you think of the program?
EDITOR'S GRADE FOR THE SHOW: B+