Recently, I came across a photo and article of Kate (one of the "stars" of the Breaking Amish show) posing for Maxim's, and I heard myself thinking that it looks like someone at Maxim's said "There's a buck to be made here." Reading some of the comments on that article lead me to do some online searching about Breaking Amish. Seems people are seriously wondering about the reality of this reality show. Last night, I actually broke down and spent a "hefty" $1.99 to see the first episode of Season 1 on you tube. After watching the first episode and just to make sure, I also bought the second episode.
So far, I have to say that the show is both fake and real. More fake than real, I believe. I don't doubt that there were heart-wrenching scenes upon departure of the individual from their family, but I doubt that the scenes in the show are the real scenes but instead are loose re-enactments, if that.
First, a few questions. How realistic does a reality show actually have to be? And, who determines this? Much about the Amish, Mennonites, and plain people remains cloaked in mystery to many people. People are interested in the mysterious. It's easy to see how a reality show such as this came about. Americans love to be entertained. Personally, I thought the title Breaking Amish following Breaking Bad was a bit cheesy when I first heard of it, but that's really not that important.
So here goes...my first thoughts in watching the first episode were "who is taking these photos?" Most Amish aren't permitted to have themselves photographed, much less filmed. To me, the interviews of the individual stories of "getting away dreams" are staged and filmed way after the fact. Same goes for the "saying goodbye to family" scenes. No one would have been there to film any of that in the original events. So, there's that.
The second thing that had me curious was how did these five individuals end up meeting? Two came from the same community in Punxatawney so it's pretty safe to assume they knew each other beforehand. But who coordinated the New York hotel meeting? Did some "mysterious force" just tell all five simultaneously to pack it up and leave for that specific hotel in New York at the same time? Seriously.
Rebecca seems pretty sure of herself in picking up the phone and calling the hotel to request another bed to deal with the sleeping situation. "So not happening" is what she said about sleeping with another girl. I don't believe that would have been original for someone who is just fresh off an Amish farm. The real deal in her situation would never even have thought to call and request another bed. Most Amish probably don't even know what a lesbian is.
The boys talking about pretty girls, and one saying he's seeing a lot of "skanks" in New York - not real, in my opinion. Talking about skanks is an expression of the more experienced, and not that of a hay seed who just walked away from an Amish farm and shoveling manure, imo.
Then there is the matter of back stabbing almost immediately. If you had five Amish converging in a big city like that for the first time I believe there would have been much more of a "the five of us surviving against the world" thing going on. But, I could be mistaken.
As with the Amish, there is also a lot of confusion about the Mennonites. Sabrina speaks about the Mennonites as having cars and radios, etc. That is true for the Mennonites she grew up with. They are an off-shoot of the Old Order Mennonites. The Old Order Mennonites do not own cars, radios, TV and definitely not upright pianos, as was seen in Sabrina's home. How do I know this? Because I was born into and grew up in an Old Order horse and buggy Mennonite family and community.
I made my exit years ago. My ears are always perked for the stories of other "plain people" who also yearned for the freedom to experience a different life. In their shoes, at that age, I might have sold out to the alluring glitter of fame, too. Who knows? It wasn't what I was after though. I was more interested in the freedom to swap out false religious ideas in pursuit of genuine spiritual teachings. The freedom to dress in clothes that are seasonally comfortable, own and drive a car, listen to classical music, etc. - all that's very nice too.
It's doubtful that I'll watch the rest of the first season, but I do have an idea for a new reality show...."Breaking Fake". ;-)
Here's a quote from A Course in Miracles that seems apropos right now..."Do you want freedom of the body or of the mind? For both you cannot have. Which do you value? Which is your goal? For one you see as means; the other, end. And one must serve the other and lead to its predominance, increasing its importance by diminishing its own. Means serve the end, and as the end is reached the value of the means decreases, eclipsed entirely when they are recognized as functionless. No one but yearns for freedom and tries to find it. Yet he will seek for it where he believes it is and can be found. He will believe it possible of mind or body, and he will make it serve his choice as a means to find it. Where freedom of body has been chosen, the mind is used as means whose value lies in its ability to contrive ways to achieve the body's freedom....
Chapter 22, section VI. The Light of the Holy Relationship, paragraph 1 and part of 2.