BY LORI CULWELL
I must admit, I heard the words “Amish Mafia” floating around a couple of months ago, and since it sounded totally fake, I ignored it, figuring it would just go away. But, last night, we were flipping channels and Stephan was all “OH MY GOD, AMISH MAFIA,” because he saw it while he was traveling for business and forgot to tell me how completely awesome it was. We think that this show might actually be reality tv’s first “Spinal Tap,” and I don’t mind telling you that I think that is the funniest line of the whole post, because after 885 words, Stephan said it, and I was like “That is so right on.”
So---- where do I even start with Amish Mafia? First of all—is that seriously a real thing? It seems fake, but I must admit, I have absolutely no idea what to make of most things Amish, and most of this confusion stems from a guy who used to fix my dad’s roof who was Amish, and his name was Jacob, and he was always all about how he couldn’t do things on Sunday and he had to be home by dark, but then his friends were totally blowing up his cellphone all day and I’m pretty sure he had a car. In that way, I kind of feel like actual Amish people do kind of a “smorgasbord” attutide in terms of which of their beliefs they actually adhere to. Again, maybe I’m wrong about all of this, and if that’s true and you’re Amish, please feel free to tell me off, although aren’t they not supposed to have internet access and such, so wouldn’t an Amish computer- haver automatically be “shunned”?
And, omg you guys—there is A LOT of shunning in “Amish Mafia.” I watched one episode, and already my head was so filled with questions, I had to stop and write them all down before I could watch more. I’m going to just open with the obvious:
1. The Amish Mafia (if it is in fact real) exists because the Amish don’t trust traditional law enforcement, but like, they know that they’re not living on Indian Reservations, right? I get that they live in a closed community, but do they actually think that regular laws don’t apply to them? This is super fascinating to me. Like, in the episode where they go and shoot up the guy’s car, they do know that’s illegal, right? Why are they doing that on camera? Also, I like how they shoot up the guy’s car because he ALLEGEDLY ran into a buggy. They are all “Amish Law & Order” up in there, but with no court. Mostly it seems to just involve nosiness and people getting all up in each other’s Amish business.
2. In a purely logistical sense, where are the film crews getting the power to film this show? Does ALL of the equipment have to be battery powered? Also, you’ll notice that most of the “regular” Amish people on the show have their faces blurred out and their voices corrected, and isn’t THAT a shunnable offense? Wouldn’t you really just need to look for the Amish dude with the film crew outside of his house to figure out who that was? I’m just saying.
3. Also logistical—if the Amish are such a closed community, how on EARTH did they get the Amish people to appear in the show without them thinking they were going to be shunned. If you watch the show, it really seems like you can get shunned for turning on a light in your house, so I’m not even sure how Discovery is pulling that off. Are we forgetting the lessons of Witness, where Kelly McGillis almost got her ass shunned for dancing with Harrison Ford in a barn? Stephan adds: also, she took a sudsybath (another thing that was probably shunnable).
4. Just from watching the show, I am to understand that the Amish don’t drive, but they are allowed to RIDE in cars, and Jolin seems to know his way around a big ol’ truck. It also seems like they are making Mennonite people and taxi drivers be kind of like their Shabbos goys, driving them around in their cars.
5. Can we just agree that Dutch is probably the friendliest, grooviest language there is? When Jolin is out threatening people and the subtitles say “Levi’s going to kick your ass if you don’t stop that,” I still feel like they could really be saying “Hey man, let’s go have a beer and go listen to a Lancaster jam band.”
6. They get a camera to spy on people, but again, isn’t it not cool in the Amish community to own technology? They apparently don’t like to have themselves photographed, so aren’t they going to get shunned just for owning that? I seriously kept thinking “They are going to get shunned” with every thing they did.
7. In upcoming episodes, apparently we learn that Jolin has tattoos and does Amish Fight Club in barns. From the previews, I understand that he has been shunned (obvi), but he’s trying to get un-shunned. But--—there’s no way to get that sh%t un-shunned, right? I’m actually confused about him, because seems to ONLY do stuff that you would classify as “shunnable.” Once you get a tattoo and you’re fighting and using cameras and driving cars, you’re kind of saying you don’t want to be in that community anymore, right? What does he care if he’s shunned? It’s not like they can un-shun you once you have tattoos, so why do they even care? That seems like a manufactured storyline to me.
8. I hope Lebanon Levi doesn't come after me for this, but I think I counted ten actual crimes in the first episode of that show, all of which were caught on camera. Also, it’s ok if they swear, drink hard alcohol, and threaten people? That does not seem very groovy or peaceful. Stephan thinks that Lebanon Levi might be shunned, but still righteous within the community. Let’s discuss. Here’s a highlights reel Full episodes available for free on the Discovery website.