"A lot of the trouble in this world wouldn't bother people if they weren't always looking for it."
Are you one of the three million viewers who watch Discovery Channel’s Amish Mafia? I watched an episode or two and felt…baffled. It’s supposed to be a reality show about vigilantes who live within the Amish community while remaining outside the law, providing protection (though from what or from whom is never really explained), collecting debts and protecting the virtue of women. The media buzz centers on how much of it is fiction or factual. Discovery Channel posts disclaimers that scenes have been re-enacted all over its credits.
What a shame. The Amish are Americans, they are good neighbors to many of us, and there’s so much to discover about their culture and communities that can teach us to live better lives. A reality show like this won’t be teaching anybody anything.
Here’s a touch of irony: The show’s popularity translates to an increased interest in tourism. The Lancaster County visitors' bureau estimates 11 million people visit each year, making tourism the county’s second-largest industry to farming, creating an estimated $1.8 billion in revenue a year. In a recent article in “Lancaster Online,” a spokesman from the visitors' bureau said he saw no negative repercussions from the series, though he was clear about his disappointment in the disrespectful portrayal of the Amish.
So as bad as reality television can be with these off-base shows, Lancaster County Amish might just end up with the last laugh. The funny thing is that I doubt they care.
About Suzanne Woods Fisher: She is an author of bestselling fiction and
non-fiction books for Revell about the Old Order Amish. Learn more about Suzanne, her books, and her weekly radio show by stopping by www.suzannewoodsfisher.com. Download the free app, Amish Wisdom, to receive a daily Amish proverb. A moment of peace and calm in a busy day.