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.

May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Current IssueOn Immigration, Welcoming the Stranger Is Only One Piece of the Puzzle
On Immigration, Welcoming the Stranger Is Only One Piece of the Puzzle Subscriber Access Only
Why Christians should support reforms that recognize both the dignity of immigrants and the rule of law.
RecommendedPete Holmes: Believing in God Gave Me Hope as Comic
Pete Holmes: Believing in God Gave Me Hope as Comic
In his new HBO show 'Crashing,' the former evangelical winks to Christian fans.
TrendingForgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Amid ISIS attacks, faithful response inspires Egyptian society.
Editor's PickWhat to Make of Donald Trump’s Soul
What to Make of Donald Trump’s SoulSubscriber Access Only
And how that might shape our response to his presidency.
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.