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 the Amish Mafia docuseries features a gang of self-identified Amish and Mennonite men re-enacting secretive, inappropriate, and illegal behavior. There's lots of swearing ("crap," "piss"; "s--t," "f--k" bleeped), conversations about illicit relationships (including prostitution), drinking, and lots of car logo images (Chevy, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac). Blackmail and extortion are also frequent themes. Violence is often used to resolve problems; bloody boxing matches are also featured.
What's the story?
AMISH MAFIA is a docuseries that features a group of men claiming to operate outside both church and law enforcement to protect an Old Order Amish community in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The gang is headed up by Lebanon Levi, a man born into the Amish community, but who life is not governed by the rules of the Anabaptist (Amish) church. Joining him is his right-hand man Alvin, and foot soldier Jolin, who is a member of the Mennonite community. Rounding out the group is John, a young man who is looking to gain more status and power in Levi's circle. Esther, John's sister and Levi's long-time friend, pays attention to their antics from behind the scenes. Interviews and reenactments based on witness testimonies reveal how Levi and his team simultaneously provide money and support to church members who need it, while engaging in secret, violent, and illegal activities designed to maintain their influence over the community while teaching those who displease them a lesson.
Is it any good?
Amish Mafia cites the 2006 Amish schoolhouse shooting as the point at which members of the Amish community began feeling the need to become more proactive in protecting themselves against the English (non-Amish) and others who take advantage of the church's passive culture. It reveals how this group of gangsters believes that they are fulfilling some of this need. It also shows how they use the bible's proverbs (especially Exodus 21:24 "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth") to justify their thug-like activities, despite the fact that most of what they do is self-serving.
There is some question about the legitimacy of the cast, who, according to Amish-law, are violating their own religion's rules by appearing on camera. They also drink, swear, and engage in violent and vengeful behavior that most Amish communities find unacceptable. But regardless of whether or not they are, were, or have ever been active members of the Anabaptist church, they succeed in contributing to a very voyeuristic -- and distorted -- look at the Amish community.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the history of the Amish in the United States. What do you know about the Amish people? What guides their decisions to dress differently from the mainstream and not use modern technology?
How does the media portray the Amish? What kind of stereotypes are used to characterize the various Amish communities? What makes the Amish culture interesting to people? Do you think this is why there are so many reality shows featuring Amish cast members?
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