Well, the TLC Network is at it again. The network that brought us shows like the Roloffs, Kate, +8, and The Little Couple, one of the last programs, still standing, ironically, from that era is Return to Amish which is about to debut Season 7. The season debuts on March 14 at 10 p.m. on TLC.
So the premise of the show is that they are following some young Amish people who are supposedly in their “rumspringa.” The show's seasons have followed various "characters" as they try to adjust to life outside the Amish or go back to the Amish or co-exist with the Amish.
Season seven brings back series "regulars"
🎥 Return To Amish Cast
Carmela Raber (née Mendez)
New cast members will join them this season, they are: Kenneth Detweiler, Fanny Schmucker and Daniel Miller.
InTouch Magazine provides a taste of the schtick this show offers, like Rosanna and Johnny struggling about which direction they want to go with their lives:
While she was interested in exploring what life can be like in “the English world,” Johnny insisted he wanted to continue living in their Amish community.
No, First, a disclaimer I’m not involved with the show, so I have no firsthand knowledge of the show.
However, back when the Amish reality TV craze crested 10 years ago, I did have TV producers regularly calling me to ask about how to meet Amish people who would be willing to participant in reality TV. I also talked to many Amish at the time to get their reaction to all this interest from television crews.
The reality is that most Amish in good standing in their faith, who are serious about their faith, and Amish life, will not participate in a reality TV show. This is also true for Amish young people who are truly serious about their lifestyle and faith.
I think what the producers do is they nibble around the “margins" of Amish society. They’ll recruit Amish “young people who are on the fence about whether they’re going to remain in the faith or not.
✔️ Return to Amish FAQ
Yes! Well, okay, I don't know for sure because I'm not part of the production team. Some cast members like Sabrina have said they are being paid. And some people seem to raise issues with this but my question is: why wouldn't they be paid? Sometimes it is as "little" as $1000 an episode, but if you become a big ratings hit that can easily go north of $10,000 an episode. Plus, you get the exposure and the benefits that come with it.
When I was involved in a project here is what one producer told me in answer to how much or whether Amish participants, who owned a produce business, would be paid:
I don't know what the family would be paid, it will completely depend on the episodic budget. WIthout being able to state an amount, I'm sure it will be worth their while. We will also bring them new customers, but generally production pays for everything associated with the show. That being said, the national exposure will grow their business like crazy!
I have been told by very well placed sources- and this was back in 2012 - that reality show participants like the Amish-themed ones would get $2500 - $5000 an episode. Not bad for a 10-12 episode arc!
Yes, most of these "reality" shows are filmed on location using a very small crew to minimize expeses.
Yes and no. It's not like it is portrayed on TV. We explain rumspringa in depth here. Some Amish youth do venture outside the faith and experiment with different jobs, clothes, and cars, but that isn't set in stone and it tends to be the minority. In fact, over 90 percent of the Amish remain in their faith!
🙋 Is Return To Amish Real?
So, this all gets us back to the question: Is "Return to Amish" real?
It all depends on your definition of “real”. Most producers of these shows will deny that they are “scripted “instead they will use the term “produced.”
I think these shows are loosely scripted, they’re heavily produced, the plot lines are cooked up ahead of time. You are not just following a camera crew around who are following Amish people living in their lives. That’s not how this works. This is television, after all, and it's about ratings and attracting views who attract advertisers. Full stop. "Documentary" implies some altruistic, educational angle and it the network's early days when TLC stood for "The Learning Channel", perhaps that was true. But it definitely is not now. Instead you are getting fictionalized views of the Amish. If you want to really learn about the Amish, you won't from TLC.
The show has its fans, but critics aren't usually among them. Common Sense Media has this to say about Return to Amish:
As with its sister show, Return to Amish contains lots of scenes designed to humorously highlight the divide between the Amish world and the English world. But most of these seem staged, and overall it's hard to take the show seriously. Fans of the franchise will enjoy it, but it doesn't particularly contain a lot of positive messages.
I know who won't be watching: me!