The Amish reality TV wave peaked a couple of years ago. Producers have now moved on to all things Alaska or gypsies. A few shows from the "Amish wave" have managed to stay on the air. "Breaking Amish" is one of those shows. The New York Daily News falls for it hook, line, and sinker and did a big spread about the show's season debut tonight at 10 10 p.m. The programs center around the exploits of Miriam Troyer and Vonda Schrock as they adjust to life in New York City and decide whether they want to permanently reside in the Big Apple. The show supposedly plays off "rumspringa," that period in some Amish youth's lives where they "let their hair down a bit" and explore. But at age 27 and 29 respectively Troyer and Schrock are at the age when many Amish women have settled down and have 4 or 5 five children already. So that alone sort of undercuts the show's "reality."
Are the young ladies in the show really Amish? I am sure they. But here's the thing: with over 250,000 Amish in the USA, statistically odds dictate a certain percentage oft them will be outliers. Schrock and Troyer are obviously outliers and the definition of what is considered "Amish" can be very broad from pacifist Swartzentrubers to beard-cutting barbers in Bergholz.
The fish-out-of-water premise is also a little tenuous. To assume that just because an Amish person is Amish that they don't know the ways of the world is a bit naive. First of all, I think ANYONE - Amish or non- feels a bit overwhelmed by New York City. I know I do. I haven't been there in about 5 or 6 years but as soon as I get on Manhattan I am out of my element. So part of what the TV producers are doing isn't so much showing the Amish reaction to NYC, they are just showing anyone's reaction who resides in the Midwest.
TV producers interested in the Amish do still call me from time to time wanting to work on this or that project and usually it fizzles. But two years ago at the height of the Amish reality TV craze, I was sucked into the morass. And if you didn't read my ebook last summer, here is a link to it again: My Amish Reality. Read all 11 chapters and you'll know why I'm a little sour on reality.
Even tried and true "reality TV" shows like the Duggars and Little People, Big World seem so heavily scripted (the term producers use is "heavily produced") that the line blurs between what is reality and what is scripted, staged reality. I suspect in those shows that there is much "scripted reality."