Monday, September 06, 2004

I have a confession to make...

I religiously watch “Amish in the City”.

When it finally goes, it takes my Wednesday night with it that is all I can say.
Yeah….I know it is a “reality program” one that shamelessly exploits the naïve foibles of five Amish young people on their once-in-a-lifetime “rumspringa” (ergo “running around” a time when young Amish volk are encouraged and sometimes forced to “get it out of their system” so to speak).
Besides, the Amish shun television and even decline to be photographed…so absent a proper documentary this show is a rare window on their whole lifestyle.
Given that, UPN decided it would be mad phat fun to lock this quintet of farmers and farmer’s daughter’s in a Beverly Hill’s mansion with a collection of photogenic yet callow “city kids”.
This would be a pretty tasteless and ill-mannered program were it not for the essential sweetness and unpretentiousness of the Amish cohort. Whether it’s buying vegetables for a salad, cooking breakfast, cleaning the lav or taking belly-dancing lessons they are a friendly, eager to please bunch.
The show is also thankfully lacking in any challenges and dopey contests…in fact they’ve had one to date and it ended in short term acrimony and unhappiness for both sides.
Frankly, neither the “city kids” nor the Amish seem cut out for the cutthroat world of modern reality programming and so the program generally revolves around helicopter rides and trips to Catalina Island.
They are all a bit too civilized compared to the shopworn freaks on “The Surreal Life”.

If there is inherent drama on “Amish in the City” it is centered on the decision all the Amish have to make as to whether or not they’ll return to their families and be properly baptized into the religion.
“Rumspringa” is fun but it is also a testing time as well…or so the show plays it.
Below are my odds on who will go Amish and who take the secular road:

Mose: Oldest and smartest of the bunch. At twenty four he drawls and makes droll comments like a farmer out of an Artemus Ward sketch. He is also a skilled craftsman and the most outwardly religious of the group. For all that he seems to be wrestling with his Amish status, he keeping coming back to the decision he must make in all his monologues.
Odds: 50-50

Miriam: blonde and bodacious she outwardly fits in with the SoCal zeitgeist. She seems to be enjoying herself no matter what is on the agenda. I get the impression though, she is just living it up and plans to resume the Amish lifestyle once she’s milked Southern California dry. Her allegedly off-screen pre-show fling with Randy demonstrates that there is a battle of the sexes going on even among the plain volk.
Odds: 60-40….Miriam is goin’ back.

Jonas: Plain and simple, Jonas wants OUT! Don’t be fooled by his frequent confrontations with the “city kids”…all he is doing is flight testing his future “secular persona”.
Odds: 80-20 Jonas is out whether he passes his GED or not.

Randy: Tall blonde taciturn and a bit lispy, Randy makes the least impression on viewers. He is appropriately camera shy although he may be intimidated by the presence of his former girl friend Miriam in the mix.
Odds: 80-20 Randy is back on the first bus to Lancaster Pa.

Ruth: Ah Ruth….so full of questions…her monologues are things of wonder and delight. Clearly she was good and surprised by a lot of the things they’ve encountered in the city. Watching her deal with the least little thing like parking meters is really what the show is all about. Ruth is a bit like Mose in that she is constantly and guilelessly asking questions. He mind doesn’t seem to be made up and I wonder if she’ll chuck the Amish lifestyle when the klaxon sounds.
Odds 50-50, Ruth is a mystery.

1 comment:

shara said...

I'm not much for reality tv, but I think I might find this one interesting - just watched a documentary recently, called (I think) 'The Devil's Playground' about this same thing (without the callow photogenic kids)and it was fascinating.