September 10, 2012 02:00 AM by Melissa Stavarski
First comes Honey Boo Boo, then comes Breaking Amish… TLC‘s newest reality series Breaking Amish follows five young men and women who leave their Amish and Mennonite communities to chase big dreams in New York City… think Real World on steroids. The premiere introduces Kate, Jeremiah, Sabrina, Abe, and Rebecca as they prepare to leave the simple life behind, the only life they’ve ever known, for an adventure in the Big Apple.
Rumspringa is a period of time that begins when an Amish child turns 16 and ends when they must choose between being baptized and leaving the community. During Rumspringa, most of their time is spent in youth groups, with a focus on courtship, and sometimes boundaries are pushed – with clothing, music, alcohol, etc. – but the youth stay close to home.
Breaking Amish is not an example of Rumspringa. These are adults who are choosing to leave their community, families, and church, and this comes with lasting (and harsh) consequences. Even if these five young women and men decide to return to the simple life at the end of the series, their family and friends will be forced to shun them.
Their lives will never be the same again….
Kate is the Bishop’s daughter. Kate says she constantly feels the need to play the part of “Bishop’s daughter,” instead of just being herself. She feels stifled.
Kate’s big dream is to be a model. She wants to ditch her plain clothes and use makeup, both of which are against Amish dress code.
Before Kate even has the chance to tell her parents she plans to go to New York City, Kate’s father catches her with the camera crew and kicks her out of the house. Homeless, Kate travels from Pennsylvania to Florida to stay with friends. While in Florida, Kate is charged with a DUI.
Kate returns to her home, to tell her parents about her DUI and New York City. When she cannot find the right words, Kate decides to send a letter instead. Kate says, “It’s a big deal to go to NYC. It’s huge.”
Cars fascinate Jeremiah – his big dream is to drive a car for a living. So simple, really. He also wants to see the “huge buildings” in New York City.
Jeremiah is adopted. He’s slightly bitter about being adopted into an Amish family. He says, “Being Amish, we can’t do nothing. We do everything the hard way. First of all, I was adopted and got thrown into this Amish crap. It’s not cool.” Jeremiah fixates on the what ifs… what if he had been adopted by an English family?
Jeremiah’s girlfriend’s name is Iva. They have been dating for two years, they’re planning a fall wedding. Jeremiah asks Iva, “Do you like life around here?” Iva answers, “Yes. I have you. I don’t need more.” Iva tells Jeremiah that she’ll never be able to speak to him again, if he leaves, and she coldly walks away. Jeremiah explains that the Amish are not allowed to show their emotions. Despite Iva’s stern exterior, Jeremiah thinks she hurts inside.
When the Bishop’s wife rides by on her bike (looking like Miss Gulch from The Wizard of Oz) and spies Jeremiah with the camera crew, he packs his suitcase and bolts.
Sabrina is the only Mennonite of the group. Sabrina shows off her giraffe teakettle, which is kind of awesome, her refrigerator, which she describes as the thing that keeps her from dying of food poisoning, and her stash of hidden magazines. Sabrina longs to be a singer. In her community, singing for an audience is considered “showing off.”
Like Jeremiah, Sabrina is adopted. Sadly, Sabrina feels as if she spent her entire life trying to live up to her adoptive father’s expectations – never quite getting there or feeling accepted. Sabrina’s story is heart wrenching. She demonstrates several nervous ticks and looks terrified constantly.
Sabrina wants to go to New York City to wear any clothes she wants to, have fun, and learn more about her Italian and Puerto Rican heritage.
Sabrina tells her parents, who refuse to be on camera, that she’s leaving. Sabrina says her mother takes the news well. However, Sabrina’s father condemns her, telling her she needs to be a better Mennonite, she’s rebelling, she’s not being a submissive woman, and she’s not being the kind of woman God intends for her to be.
Despite receiving hate mail/threats and her loved ones shunning her, Sabrina moves forward with her plan. She worries a little though. She says, “I’m going to New York City to find myself. What if I don’t? Then I have nothing.”
Abe’s brother, sister, and mother appear on camera but do not have much to say… at first.
Abe’s mother warns him he’ll be shunned if he goes to New York City. Abe says, “I’m willing to risk all that to see what’s out there. I feel you should be able to do what you want, to follow your dreams.” Abe tells his family he wants to be a pilot. Abe’s mother simply says, “The Amish don’t fly.”
Abe’s brother Andy seems to be cautiously happy for Abe. When Abe asks Andy if he would visit, he says yes. About dating a good-looking girl, Andy smiles. Still, Andy fears being shunned, so he’s staying behind.
Abe feels snubbed when his family does not wish him well or offer any goodbye hugs. Again, the Amish are not allowed to show their emotions.
Abe fully expects to return to the community and marry an Amish woman… after he lives it up in New York City a little.
Rebecca strives for equality. ”I don’t think it’s right that a woman has to stand underneath a man. I think we should be equal,” she says. Rebecca talks about life without car, TV, radio, and electricity.
Rebecca is nervous to tell her Grandpa, who practically raised her, that she’s going to New York City. Before she gets the chance to fully explain, Grandpa gets upset about the camera crew and tells Rebecca to pack her stuff and get out. Kicked out… just like that.
From here, TLC follows Kate, Jeremiah, Sabrina, Abe, and Rebecca as they travel by airplane for the first time, discover modern conveniences such as ATMs, and explore New York City. The previews include copious amounts of alcohol, bull rides, tattoos, sex, and bikinis… oh my!
Did you watch Breaking Amish? What did you think?
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Photo Credit: TLC