Breaking Amish is one of those reality shows that people love to watch. Everyone is always interested to learn more about these people and why they do the things they do. That’s why the show was so popular at the beginning. After only a couple of weeks on the air though, things started coming apart for the TLC network.
People were noticing all kinds of things that were wrong with the show. First it was one thing, then another and eventually, it snowballed into one fake thing after another that was exposed. For those reasons, the show and all of its spinoffs are even more popular than ever now.
In case you lost track of all of the shows there is Breaking Amish: Los Angeles, Return to Amish and Breaking Amish: Brooklyn. People mostly watch now though so they can see if they can figure out what is fake and what isn’t.
Several people outside of the shows called the network out when they noticed several lies being told on the show. Several cast members followed those up with admissions to the level of fraud on the show. Things like, did Kate really not know how to work an elevator? Did Abe and Rebecca really just meet on camera for the first time? And of course did Jeremiah really never have a drink of alcohol before appearing on the show?
TLC did get a few things right, but the fraud far outweighs the accurate depictions on the show.
15 So Wrong - Rebecca Already Knew Abe Off Camera
Rebecca and Abe are portrayed as meeting for the very first time while in New York City. He proposes to her and she accepts. Romantic stuff right? Well, yes it is and even more so if it were real.
Rebecca had already been married one time in real life and she actually left that husband to begin a relationship with Abe, in 2010. Court records show that she was legally married to Rufus Hostetler (no relation to Leonard) but the union didn’t last very long at all.
This can be verified on Hostetler’s Facebook page when he addressed the issue with this post: “I am tryn 2 figure out why in th world abe schmucker wud want to b a friend on face book after all he left wht my wife.”
14 So Wrong - Jeremiah Is A Divorced Woman Beater
Jeremiah Raber is divorced from his former wife Naomi Stutzman and the couple has three children together. Obviously, he isn’t as Amish as show producers wish he was.
Stutzman said in an interview one time that she was upset how the show tries to paint him in a light that is completely untrue. “The kids and I suffered for years at the hands of this man. My family is livid because they took him in and cared for him, now he is doing this? I'm not surprised at him. What surprised me was TLC. My kids and I watch TLC. They are supposed to be a family channel. For them to do this is appalling.”
Police reports show that they were called to their residence on eight different occasions. In 2005, one of those visits led to a domestic violence arrest of Raber.
13 Was Right - TLC Got The Dress Correct
The show and all of its spinoffs were so fake that it’s hard to pick out what is actually true. One of the things the network got correct was the wardrobe. However, it’s pretty hard to screw that up if you are doing a show about the Amish. There isn’t a soul alive who doesn’t know they dress differently.
There are different styles of this dress though that the average person doesn’t see. The reason we don’t notice it is because they all look very similar to us and we don’t know what to look for. There are actually patterns and markings that differ from community to community. The Amish notice them right away as they are very distinguishing to them, but the average civilian may not ever see any kind of difference at all.
12 So Wrong - TLC Offered Naomi Stutzman Hush Money
While Naomi was married to Jeremiah Raber, police were called to the residence eight separate times. One time he was arrested for domestic violence and the network knew about every single incident. When they found out that Naomi was about to talk they contacted her and offered her $10,000 to keep her mouth shut.
She was going to share an incident where Jeremiah punched her in the stomach while she was pregnant. It’s good to know that TLC treasures morals like not beating up women right?
Naomi also shed light on the tattoo that Jeremiah is shown receiving while on the show. She says that he has actually had that tattoo for many years and it wasn’t new at all. It contains the names of their three children.
11 So Wrong - Kate Is A Fraud
TLC got out in front of the DUI that Kate had previously received. That was a good idea since they were portraying her as an Amish Bishop’s daughter. A DUI, in that case, doesn’t look very good. The network did a good job in taking that one on but they left a lot untold and it all eventually came out.
The Amish don’t like to take pictures because they represent vanity, something they see as a sin. However, it turns out that Kate had actually submitted photos to a “Best Smile” contest online, a long time before she “gave up the Amish life” for the city.
This submission shows that she obviously knows how to work a computer and the internet. So when you see this same woman in an elevator and not knowing how to operate it, it calls quite a bit into question doesn’t it?
10 Was Right - Photos Are Forbidden
Amish people don’t mind other people taking photographs of them while they are working or congregating. As long as it isn’t them behind the camera everything is ok. It’s a common thought in Amish communities that picture taking is a sin so they don’t use cameras or keep photos in their homes.
This is one of the main reasons that it is such a huge draw to those who leave their community to explore the world. Cell phones with cameras are a major draw because they offer so many things they were not allowed to do before, all on one device.
It’s a rare occurrence though that when they do come back home, they bring the photos with them. It’s almost like a Vegas thing: what happens away from the community, stays away from the communities. In most cases anyway.
9 So Wrong - The Network Had To Change The Description Of The Show
The TLC website had to change the description of the show on their website due to so many things being pointed out as wrong. It originally said the show was about “Four Amish and one Mennonite, breaking away from their faith and traveling to New York City for the first time”.
That changed to “Breaking Amish offers an unprecedented look into a rarely seen world, following four Amish people and one Mennonite as they forgo horses and buggies for New York City's taxis and subways.”
What is different is any reference to doing anything for the first time.
The network commented: “Our Amish and Mennonite producers that we hired introduced us to Amish and Mennonite men and women who were already determined to leave. They had already made the decision to go out and see the world, with or without us. They courageously allowed us to follow them on this journey.”
8 Was Right - Amish Only Get An 8th-Grade Education
The show gives insight to the fact that Jeremiah and Abe aren’t very nice to their women. This is an accurate depiction that stems from a lack of education in Amish communities. They are educated up to an 8th-grade level and then the men are sent out to work. At the same time, the women are supposed to marry, have kids, and take care of the house.
This practice of giving the women strict roles to play leads to several instances of mistreatment of them. The men are demanding of what they expect and the woman is supposed to do nothing but obey every order. This can lead to several problems down the road once a woman gets tired of being bossed around.
7 So Wrong - Booze, Phones And Strip Clubs Aren't New
On the show, there was a scene of a house party where members of the cast laugh and giggle at what is supposed to be their first taste of alcohol. However many sources state that this wasn’t even close to the first time alcohol was tied to the cast.
Us Weekly reported that Abe Schmucker was arrested in 2008 for public intoxication. That’s a far cry from his claim of never partying before. Kate Stoltzfus also earned a DUI before the show even aired.
Naomi Stutzman, who divorced Jeremiah Raber, said that her former abusive husband has also always had a cell phone. She stated "I had to laugh when (Raber) claimed he's never owned a cell phone. He's had one for as long as I've known him." She also said that he loves Guns N' Roses, strip joints, Eminem, and was "Always known as the guy with the coolest cars."
6 So Wrong - Members Are Not Shunned
Reality television is all about the drama. After all, who would watch a show that’s boring and has nothing going on? With all of the fraud that took place on Breaking Amish and its spinoff shows, there is one more glaring mistake to call out. When a family member leaves the community the show tells a story that the person is shunned by their family and never allowed to come back. That is very untrue though.
It is common for residents to leave the community for a bit and it is also just as common that they return home. Some even receive help while they are away. It’s reported that Jeremiah Raber was given a pair of cars and rent money during his time away.
5 Was Right - Kids Are Warned About The Dangers Of Electronics
The show got the fact right that in most communities the Amish children are warned of the dangers that come with using electronics. This is why they are such a draw to those who leave the community to explore the world.
However, there are several communities that are embracing electronics more and more just so they can keep up in the world.
In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a huge Amish region, the residents have taken to cell phones and computers because it helps them keep from falling behind even further in the world. One businessman named Aaron, who uses a cell phone and a computer regularly, said: “You want to do business with the modern world, you’re going to have to run behind them to a certain extent.” They are a cutting edge community as far as that’s concerned because most are still reluctant to use the technology available to them.
4 So Wrong - Bullying Cast Members Is Common And Chapel Lied About Cancer
Another major thing that TLC didn’t want anyone to know about is how they treat the cast members of their show. There are several accounts of poor treatment and some of flat out bullying the cast. Kate Stoltzfus sent this out on her Twitter account: "(I was crying on the show because) producers keep us in a room for hours and ask the same questions over and over—they're relentless. If we don't give them the answer they want, they keep us in there until we cry or give them the answer they want."
She also said that a cast member who was portrayed to have cancer actually didn’t. "Chapel [Schmucker-Peace] was NOT doing chemo when the show was filmed. She was in remission and had us all fooled into thinking she was very sick." This was apparently set up by the show’s producers.
3 Was Right - They Typically All Want Big Families
Once women finish up their 8th-grade education they are expected to stay at home, have kids and keep the house going. It is encouraged to every young couple to have plenty of children. Most Amish families are pretty large and the show's depiction of this was fairly accurate. Another reason a lot of the families are so big is that most communities don’t believe in any type of contraception.
One of the stars of the show, Lizzie, didn’t follow the norm though and the show followed her through her ordeal of becoming pregnant by a non-Amish black man. “Every Amish parent's dream is for their child to grow up and marry an Amish person and live an Amish life. That obviously wasn't what I wanted at the moment," said Lizzie.
2 So Wrong - Jeremiah Raber Admitted It Was Fake
Raber once admitted in an interview that the show was mostly scripted. The exact question and answer were “Is Breaking Amish scripted?” His response went as follows: “I can’t sit here and say it’s 100% real because it isn’t. There is so much that goes into any reality show. Every place we go to has to be set up in advance meaning that the owner of every place has to sign a release prior to us filming at that location. Yes, there are parts that are scripted. Every reality show is that way to make things juicy and interesting for the viewers.”
He also said he got on the show easily. “He (a producer) asked if I’d want to do a show about the Amish and their lifestyle. Me being the person I am didn’t hesitate to give him a yes. I did a one hour interview and TLC approved it.”
1 Was Right - The Premise Of The Show Is Correct
Even though TLC ended up having to change the description of the show on their web site, they did get the overall premise correct. Amish children do leave the community when they are sixteen years old to go out and experience the world. It’s called Rumspringa and the children are encouraged to go out and explore and learn about things they have not yet seen.
For a lot of them, it’s mostly about drinking, sex, electronics, cars and partying. It’s also a learning experience for their parents because once the kids come back, and despite what the show depicts they do come back, they can teach their parents about all of the cool things they learned. The parents can then explain to their children why things are different in the community and how they are better or worse for them.