A beginner's guide to 'Breaking Amish' - Macleans.ca

A beginner’s guide to ‘Breaking Amish’

A look back on the first season before ‘Breaking Amish: Brave New World’ premieres on Sunday


America’s over-the-top and egregiously inaccurate portrayal of life after Amish is back and it’s headed to the Sunshine State in tomorrow night’s premiere of Breaking Amish: Brave New World on TLC.

In preparation for what promises to be an unapologetic train wreck, it’s worth taking a look back at Season 1 of Breaking Amish and its fallout, which, save for one intensely hostile reunion episode, I missed altogether.

If you’re in the same boat, the premise is: five innocent Amish youths trade in their buggies and chicken coops for tattoos, sex and some serious boozing — last year in New York City, this time around in Sarasota, Fla., a hotspot for the ex-Amish (who knew?)

Almost as instantly as they became pseudo celebrities, Abe Schmucker, Rebecca Byler, Kate Stoltzfus, Jeremiah Raber and Sabrina High drew the ire of the public.

This was mainly because their back-stories — being from strict Amish families with no exposure to jeans and cellphones — didn’t check out. Social media profiles, court records and pesky outspoken family members and friends proved otherwise, even inspiring a Facebook page: Breaking Amish The Truth.

Here’s a roundup of some of the salacious rumours that plagued the cast:

  • They were more Am-ish than Amish. Though TLC painted the series as an unscripted drama about Amish folks leaving their communities “for the first time,” it turned out none of the five cast members — all dolled up in their muted dresses and wide-brimmed hats — had been leading a traditional lifestyle before the show started filming. Keep reading for elaboration.
  • Married couple Abe and Rebecca, who claimed they had never met before filming, played up the giddy, puppy love angle in Season 1. But word is that these two actually dated in the past. Not only that, but Abe might be the father of Rebecca’s child. Because, oh yeah, she has a child. It’s also been speculated that Rebecca cheated on her ex-husband with Abe. Which brings us to the next point…
  • Rebecca, Sabrina — the sole Mennonite of the group — and Jeremiah were all married divorced before coming on the show. In Jeremiah’s case, it sounds like things got ugly; his wife, with whom he has three kids, filed a restraining order against him and there were allegations of domestic abuse.
  • And no legitimate scandal would be complete without a little substance abuse. Kate reportedly received a DUI while she was pursuing a modelling career in Florida and Abe was arrested for public intoxication.

Sounds more like a week’s worth of Judge Judy than a show about Amish people, right?

Frankly, I’m not sure why anybody is shocked when anyone on reality TV lies about anything, anymore. As long as it’s entertaining deceit, I’m all for it. TLC, apparently, feels like the same way, and with an average of 3.2 million viewers last season, it’s easy to see why.

According to the network, Breaking Amish: Brave New World, will feature “more culture shock, challenges and unexpected discoveries.” It’s the latter that I’m most looking forward to.

The series airs Sunday at 10 p.m. I’ll be hate-watching, judgment in hand. Will you?

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