Guest / Limited Access /

When television network UPN announcedAmish in the City, their latest attempt to capitalize on the popularity of reality TV shows, many journalists questioned how it was different from a similar show that never got off the ground. CBS, whose parent company owns UPN, last year cancelled plans to air The Real Beverly Hillbillies, in which poor Appalachian families would be paid to live in a Beverly Hills mansion. Interest groups and legislators said the show would be insensitive to Appalachian culture and communities.

This year, it's Amish in the City, which will place five Amish teens during rumspringa—an Amish tradition allowing teens 16 and older more freedom from community rules before choosing whether or not to join the church—alongside five "mainstream" teens. The point, execs say, is to see what happens to Amish kids "who will walk down Rodeo Drive and be freaked out by what they see." It's not intended to be insulting, the network says. Still, after one CBS executive admits that the series was planned in part "because CBS couldn't do 'The Real Beverly Hillbillies.'" The Amish, he said, "don't have as good a lobbying group" as rural Appalachians do.

That is about all that Donald B. Kraybill and UPN can agree on. Kraybill, author of The Amish: Why They Enchant Us and many other books on the Amish and Mennonites, believes it would be impossible for the show to accurately depict the Amish community, and that any effort would be by nature insensitive to Amish prohibitions on graven images. Yesterday, CT talked with Kraybill, who is Senior Fellow in the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College.

Do you think Hollywood has more of an interest in the Amish than the rest of the country does?

I think ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueStop Calling Everything a Bible Study
Subscriber Access Only
Stop Calling Everything a Bible Study
Why it matters what churches call their classes.
Recommended‘The Young Pope’ Takes an Anxious Look at the Danger of Doubt
‘The Young Pope’ Takes an Anxious Look at the Danger of Doubt
HBO's unsettling Vatican satire asks what happens when spiritual leaders shirk their own faith.
TrendingAll 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
All 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
More than 3,000 employees in 36 states will be laid off in the liquidation of one of the world’s largest Christian retailers.
Editor's PickMy Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
My Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
But only after I went to Japan in search of his life story.
Christianity Today
Amish in the City: Has Reality TV Gone too ...
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

January 2004

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.