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Are Amish reality shows on Discovery about to end?

Amish Mafia
Amish Mafia
Discovery Channel

Last season of "Amish Mafia" was cut short when the cast members told the production crew to stop filming or something bad would happen to them. However, the cast members aren't alone in this decision.

According to Lancaster Online, Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention and Visitors Bureau issued a joint statement. Part of the statement reads, "Over the last few years, a growing number of TV-based attempts have been made to exploit this lifestyle. These attempts, often under the guise of “reality television,” raise serious questions of religious and cultural bias. Additionally, this exploitation consistently portrays the entire county in a negative light and stands to significantly damage our overall reputation as a wonderful place to live, visit and do business."

Mary Haverstick is speaking out for the Amish to put a stop in the reality TV exploitation of the Amish. She has started a website, Respect Amish and a Facebook page, Lancastrians Against Amish-sploitation Films & TV shows to make people aware. She contends that the TV series of shows like "Amish Mafia," "Breaking Amish," "Return to Amish," and Discovery's newest program, "Amish Haunting" or "Amish Horror" which is scheduled in the future, do not represent the Amish way of life at all. The show exploits the culture of how the real Amish people live, work and believe. The shows portray the Amish gun wielding, bat carrying individuals who take the law into their own hands. Their youth are shown as heavy drinkers, or drug addicts, who drive cars and wear English clothes behind the backs of their parents. They were even shown as promiscuous and some scenes suggested same sex partners.

Mary said, “This really is the heart of our business and tourism communities that is saying we don’t want to support these shows any more.”

Lancaster Online reports that Mary apparently talked to some of the crew, or extras that appeared on one of the Amish shows on the Discovery Channel. They told her that they regret their involvement in the series.

Mary also went on to say, “Our goal isn’t to make people feel bad who have worked on these shows in the past. It’s all about waking up Lancaster now. We were all asleep at the switch. I think this is only the beginning. The welcome mat isn’t out as much as it was here in Lancaster. ... You need support from a community in order to film there. If you don’t have it, why would you want to be there?”

Lark McCarley, owner of the Lovelace Manor Bed and Breakfast, refused a producers request to use her place to film a scene in "Amish Mafia." She said that she would hear her guests talking at the breakfast table about meeting Lebanon Levi or Esther, or other members of the show. They actually believed that the show accurately portrays the Amish lifestyle. Even though she said she tried to tell them that those people are just actors, her guests don't believe her.

Do you think that the TV reality shows go to far in stretching the truth, especially in the Amish culture? Share your thoughts and comments below.

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