The Amish Mafia reality show claims to show a small group of “protectors” within the Amish community who drive cars and blackmail bishops.
And its complete fiction, critics say.
Amish Mafia, which is being billed as a reality show, debuts on the Discovery Channel in December. It explores the world of Lebanon Levi and his gang of three men, Jolin, John and Alvin, the Patriot-News noted.
The show starts out with a disclaimer that the Amish church denies that the group exists, and the episode then goes into interviews and re-enactments of the gang as they drink, drive cars, and gamble. Experts who understand the Amish community say that the Amish Mafia reality show is nothing like reality at all.
“When I first saw the trailer [for the show], I thought maybe it was a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit on reality television because it was so far fetched,” said Donald Weaver-Zercher, a professor at Elizabethtown College and expert on the Amish. “My sense is this Amish mafia is about as real as the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in The Office.”
Another expert said after studying the Amish for 20 years, he’s heard nothing about a mafia or anything even resembling it.
But the Amish Mafia reality show may be trying to cash in on a suddenly popular religious group. In April, National Geographic aired a 10-part series called Amish: Out of Order, that showed people who had left the search. TLC aired a similar show in September, Breaking Amish, which followed four Amish and one Mennonite who moved to New York City and experimented with drinking, drugs, and sex.
The Discovery Channel acknowledges that the scenes in the Amish Mafia reality show are re-enactments, ABC News notes, but claims the stories are all true.