BREAKING AMISH, which airs on TLC on Sunday nights, is another show that Judy and I enjoy watching. The premise is that five young Amish people (actually four, one young woman is a Mennonite), leave their rural, provincial ways and strict lifestyles behind and journey to New York City for the first time. There, they're overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of the big city and each one begins to sample life outside of the tight rules and restrictions of their home communities.
It's classic "fish-out-of-water", stranger-in-a-strange-land material but it's skillfully done. The men, Abe and Jeremiah, are vastly different. Abe, while enjoying his new found freedom, still adheres to some of the ways and traditions of his Amish upbringing (he won't go into a strip club with Jeremiah). Abe seeks work as a stunt man and seems the most likable, level-headed of the group. He's a genuinely nice guy.
Jeremiah on the other hand, is a bit of a misogynist and a jerk. He believes that women should be subservient to men and do all of the chores. He gets tattooed, buys wild new clothes and takes driving lessons so he can get a job as a NYC taxi driver. He's not the sharpest tool in the shed.
Rebbecca, a demure blond, is slowly coming out of her cocoon. She and Abe have hit it off as a couple but she's beginning to tire of life in the big city and yearns for the simple, quiet life in the country. But she's game to try almost anything that the others do (except for drinking). Oh, and at 21, she has a full set of dentures, top and bottom.
Sabrina, the Mennonite, is a bit of a rebel. She likes to drink and party and she's tried to get a job as a waitress (at which she failed horribly).
Kate is the real firecracker. She's a pretty young woman with lots and lots of issues. She has a drinking problem and a criminal record for drinking related offenses. She wants to be a model and is pursuing that dream while fleeing her repressive upbringing.
I have no idea how all of this will play out but it's fascinating, engrossing television. TLC is obviously footing a great deal of the expense of this show (they all live in a nice hotel and appear to have spending money for meals, shopping and taxi rides). And like any other "reality" show, you have to wonder just how much of this is "real" and how much of it is staged for the purposes of good drama. These young people have risked becoming total outcasts from the world in which they grew up. It's a world that may never allow them to return after their experiences in New York. Some of them may succeed, some may fail but you wonder just what (if any) kind of a safety net they're operating with.
Having recently visited New York City (for the second time in my life), I can understand and sympathize with what these kids are going through to some extent. New York is a big, loud, crowded, noisy place but it's also one hell of a lot of fun. I did feel a bit overwhelmed standing in the middle of Times Square at midnight on the Friday night of Fleet Week last May. There were just too many people.
But I'd still go back to New York just as soon as we've saved up enough money. It's not cheap!