A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that American Colony: Meet The Hutterites is an interesting look into a lesser known community, but it does feature some graphic and bloody animal butchery and some drinking and smoking. Words like "bitch" and "crap" are audible while stronger curses are bleeped. Despite the pressure to reject the modern world, young folks discuss things like Facebook, iPads, and artists like Taylor Swift.
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What's the story?
MEET THE HUTTERITES is a docuseries featuring a Montana colony of Hutterites as they work hard to support themselves off the land while coping with the pressures of the modern world. Cameras follow members of the Kings Colony Hutterites -- one of various colonies of Hutterite pacifists located across the prairies of the American Northwest and southern Canada -- as they live, work, and worship together. But tensions build as some of the younger generations of the colony challenge the strict Hutterite way of life imposed by the elders, which rejects most modern technology, requires women to adhere to a strict dress code, and expects teens to leave school to support the colony by working on their farms and ranches. Finding a balance between centuries-old traditions and the trappings of the modern world isn't an easy journey, and one that sometimes leads to difficult decisions and serious consequences.
Is it any good?
The series introduces viewers to one of the oldest and least-known religious cultural groups in the United States, which, like the Amish and Mennonites, migrated to the United States from Europe after centuries of religious persecution. However, their unique adherence to communal living sets them apart, and requires them to share all their resources to support the colony. It also pressures them to move away from individual decisions that veer away from tradition and could negatively impact their overall way of life.
While there is some educational information here about Kings Colony and its specific beliefs and lifestyles, much of the focus is on the drama created by church elders and conservative members of the group upholding their rules and traditions, and the desire of others to live a more progressive lifestyle by allowing their children to go to a mainstream high school, play sports, or use cell phones and computers. There are times when certain conversations (and reactions to them) appear forced or preplanned in order to underscore this conflict. But overall, it is series that offers an interesting and voyeuristic glimpse into a world that most Americans know very little about.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Hutterites. Like the Amish and the Mennonites, this religious community has its roots in Germany. What are the differences between these religious cultures? What do you know about their religious persecution? Does this type of discrimination happen today?
Much is made about the differences between religious groups like the Hutterites and mainstream America. What are some of the stereotypes that exist about these religious communities? What are some of the similarities between the Hutterites and people who live outside of these colonies?
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