Shows based on the Amish community have been scoring favorably on the ratings scale. TLC’s ‘Breaking Amish’ was one of the biggest series’ on cable TV this year, and it looks as though Discovery Channel’s ‘Amish Mafia’ may be following suit.
In an article dated Sunday, Dec. 30, Lancaster Online reported that the ratings of this mysterious group have been soaring. However, is the show authentic? Is Lebanon Levi and his workers real protectors of the Amish Community, or are they paid actors?
According to a Discovery executive, these cast members are not paid actors, but instead are real Amish and Mennonite people living in Lancaster County.
"They are actual people," Laurie Goldberg, Discovery's vice president of public relations, said last week. "These are real people in the Amish and Mennonite communities."
Discovery also noted that though many of the happenings on the show are re-enacted, they are based off actual previous events.
The first 3 episodes of the show gave viewers an inside look at the job description of the Amish Mafia members. Lebanon Levi and his crew confronted different law-breakers for different reasons and worked to restore order in the community. They made several visits to help out the non-confrontational Amish folk that needed situations dealt with. However, local residents just are not convinced with the authenticity of the hit show.
"That fighting mentality isn't even there," said Jeffrey Conrad, local defense attorney and former prosecutor who has litigated "scores" of cases involving the Amish. "We can't even get them to file lawsuits when we suggest it."
Lancaster Online also reported: “Conrad said he recently did an interview for an ABC news show regarding Amish behavior here —Conrad believed it was in response to Discovery's series. Conrad said the interview was halted when he didn't tell stories of guns, avid partying and other mayhem depicted in the series.”
Though Conrad has spent seven years as a local prosecutor, he stands by the fact that he has never heard of this group. He went on to say that if he had, he would have gone after them.
Like the ‘Breaking Amish’ controversy, pages that claim to expose the “truth” behind the show have also been created on the web.
Various locals reported different discrepancies with the series. Local attorney Steve Breit noted that the series shows another side of the Amish people, and that people in Lancaster County are having a hard time with how they are represented. Though the attorney cannot confirm whether the events on the show are true or not, he did say that he has heard of some related activity taking place over the years.
"The events are re-creations," he said. "I can't speak for the embellishments."
Breit did say that Lebanon Levi’s criminal record was confirmed, but hasn’t personally ever represented him. Local critics didn’t seem to know about the lead Mafia man either. Some skeptics say the show is staged, and many have a problem with the accent and dialect. However, Breit knows nothing about paid actors being cast for the show.
It is also of importance to note that genuine Amish folk do not believe in appearing on Television…
Though only five episodes have been produced to date, Discovery is working on bringing viewers more of ‘Amish Mafia.’ Discovery reported that 3.64 million viewers watched the series premiere on Dec. 12 and 3.41 million tuned in for a sneak-preview show the night before.
What do you think about ‘Amish Mafia?’ Do you think the show is the real deal or just another deception of reality TV?