Sects in the City: TLC Reality Show Has Young Amish in New York

Young, wide-eyed Amish take in the sights in New York's Times Square in "Breaking Amish" (Photo: TLC)

TLC is venturing into Amish country for a new reality show covering a subject that’s already being explored on rival National Geographic Channel.

TLC’s new Amish entry is called “Breaking Amish” (which we recognize as a clever play on “Breaking Bad”).

It’s about a group of young Amish men and women who decide to sample the big-city life — in New York — in order to make a choice between leaving their closed Amish culture in favor of new lives in contemporary society.

It’s a topic that’s been gone over before on TV — the Amish tradition of “rumspringa,” a word referring to a period in a young Amish person’s life in which they get to experience the outside world (which the Amish refer to as “English” culture) for a brief time, then return to Amish life — getting their curiosity about “English” lifestyles out of their systems, as it were.

However, TLC says the five Amish seen in “Breaking Amish” — two men and three women ranging in age from 20 to 32 — are seriously considering taking up a secular lifestyle and not returning to their traditional homes, which is why they’re in New York in the first place.

Our take: Certainly, we’re intrigued by this show’s “fish out of water” premise, but if we were Amish and seriously considering living an urban lifestyle over our family’s rural one, there are other, less-stressful cities in which to make this transition than New York. But hey, that’s just us!

TLC says nine, one-hour episodes of “Breaking Amish” have been produced. The first one premieres Sunday, Sept. 9, at 10/9c.

Meanwhile, if this Amish-themed reality series seems familiar to you, then that’s because NatGeo already has a series about young Amish who have left the lifestyle — “Amish: Out of Order.” And another NatGeo series, “American Colony: Meet the Hutterites,” similarly covers the lifestyles of an obscure sect that, like the Amish, eschews certain aspects of modern, urban life.

In fact, one of the so-called “ex-Amish” seen on “Out of Order” is a man who was introduced to TV viewers in the very first such Amish show ever seen on TV. He’s Mose Gingerich (his own Web site is here) and that first Amish show was “Amish in the City,” seen on the old UPN network in 2004 (the city in that show was L.A.).

Not that there’s anything wrong with it (particularly), but TLC and the other Discovery-owned networks often seem to copy reality-show concepts already seen elsewhere, such as “Hoarders” on A&E, which “inspired” the TLC series “Hoarding: Buried Alive.”

While we’re on the subject, why not sample “Hoarders” (here) and “Hoarding: Buried Alive” (below):
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Now compare “Hoarders” to this episode of “Hoarding: Buried Alive”:
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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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