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Amish in the City

When news surfaced that the UPN Network was producing a show titled, Amish in the City, people were immediately alarmed.  Some wondered whether this was a sign that reality TV was going too far and television standards had gone too low.  Others that were comfortable with the targets that reality TV usually mocks questioned why the Amish were being targeted, after all what has the Amish done to America over the last couple of decades.  Some just wanted their uneasy relationship with the Amish continue, wondering whether the Amish would view this as some sort of provocation and then launch a response that could be anything from audacious to vicious.

Well, thankfully these critics could breathe a sigh of relief because Amish in the City was surprisingly well done.  Like a bizarro-The Real World, Amish in the City placed five Amish teenagers and twenty-somethings in a house with six regular teens and twentysomethings from around the country that was located in seedy Los Angeles.  What followed was a surprising mish-mash of activity that brought out its fair share of laughs and tears.  Working on the premise that shows how people of similar ages can bond or fight due to the vastly different cultures that they were brought up in, Amish in the City was a surprisingly feel-good reality TV hit.

Additionally, Amish in the City also taught the country more about Amish culture and traditions.  While many thought that this show had no purpose except to place two seemingly diametrically opposite variables together in one room and watch them clash a la water and oil, Amish in the City was actually very respectful of the Amish.

The Amish participants were all undergoing the intensely personal Amish coming-of-age experience known as Rumspringa.  Rumspringa, a Pennsylvania Dutch term that can be loosely translated as running wild, is an important rite of passage for the Amish to go through.  During this experience, Amish teens that are 16 and older are offered the opportunity to explore the outside, secular world before determining whether they want to get baptized and join the Amish church or to stay in the outside world.

Documenting this experience provided viewers a valuable glimpse into the sometimes inclusive world of the Amish.  Of course, Amish in the City wasn’t just about preaching to the public.  There were many classic fish-out-of-water moments as the Amish five had to adjust to their new surroundings.  However, one of the most poignant parts of the show was to see the level of changes made by the other six contestants who confronted by a different culture underwent remarkable changes.

The best reality TV shows are the ones that are both entertaining and enlightening.  With Amish in the City, viewers were able to see people from a different culture and how that culture has shaped their personalities.  Additionally, viewers were able to see these contestants grow in front of their eyes and maybe learn a couple of lessons as well.