Even before 'Amish Mafia' officially hit the air, questions about the show's authenticity were already being raised. This group of Amish protectors that were supposedly formed to operate outside of the law, just aren't convincing everyone that they are the real deal. Though Discovery offered a disclaimer ahead of time saying that some scenes are reenacted, locals have pointed out other discrepancies in the show, and some deny their existence completely.
However, Lancaster, Co. is seeing some perks from Discovery Channels hit show. In an article dated, Thurs. Jan. 3, New York Daily News reported that the show is bringing some favorable retail sales to some of their stores.
Even though some Lancaster, Co. stores are enjoying cashing in, it doesn't mean they are all fans of the show.
“We’re kind of making fun of it,” said Jackie Kissel, a worker at Art & Glassworks, a store in the town of Lancaster that made a brief cameo. “We thought the show was hysterical.”
Whether the show is real or fake, it has been luring in more than 3 million viewers each week. Since the Amish community themselves obviously are not tuning in to the show because their tradition doesn't include electricity, they have remained silent on the controversy. However, friends of the Amish, and non-Amish locals have been speaking out, and voicing their opinions on 'Amish Mafia.' Many feel that the show disrepects Amish traditions and values, and doesn't paint a true picture of who these quiet, peaceful people are.
“The thing that’s disconcerting is that they’re portraying Lancaster as though we have gangs and need protection,” said Kissel. Kissel thinks of the show's leader of the pack 'Lebanon Levi' as an actor.
Even so, the owners of Art & Glassworks where Kissel works have put up a sign that says, “This store is protected by Lebanon Levi." The reasoning behind the sign is that there was a particular scene in which the mafia boss was shown leaving this store with an envelope that was thought to be filled with protection money.
Recently, Kissel said, the owner of nearby Ziggy’s Magic Shop stopped by with a toy gun, joking, “You might want one of these.”
“We had a nice retail season” before Christmas, Kissel reported. “Maybe we’ll have more tourism in the summertime.”