Despite the inherit production manipulation organic to all reality TV, "Breaking Amish" is still a fascinating and heartbreaking coming-of-age tale.
The series (debuting 10 p.m. Sunday, TLC) follows the plight of four young Amish and one Mennonite, all of whom are torn between staying with their secluded communities or going out into the world, specifically New York City. This isn't a unique idea. UPN did the same thing with "Amish and the City" years ago.
But the results are equally as compelling.
For the vast majority of Americans, the Amish and Mennonites are strange but intriguing sects. They cut themselves off from the modern world, for the most part, and are shrouded in secrecy. "Amish" pulls back the curtain and lays out raw emotion in making one of the hardest roads these young people will face.
They must choose between self exploration or living an unhappy life among their strict religious communities. If they chose the former, they are forever shunned by their families. They are truly alone.
The participants include Rebecca, who yearns to have even the simplest of technologies in her life; Abe, who says he hasn't had fun in two years; Jeremiah, with a goal of learning to drive a car and Sabrina, adopted into the Mennonite community and who has dreams of being a singer.
Producers admit they brought these five together and offered them a trip to New York City, slightly manipulating a situation that otherwise might not have come the participants' way.
Regardless, the sadness that comes with their decision to go is haunting and sincere, making "Amish" worth following.
Score: HHH(of five)
Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or email@example.com.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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