×

TLC on defensive over ‘Breaking Amish’

Net, studio say show will address reported inconsistencies

TLC has found itself in hot water over allegations that its latest reality skein, “Breaking Amish,” may be a fraud.

Program, which bowed Sept. 9, follows five Amish and Mennonite young adults as they leave their isolated communities for the Big Apple. “Breaking Amish” has drawn strong ratings, averaging 3 million viewers for its two Sunday 10 p.m. airings to date. Its debut was the most-watched series bow for TLC in three years, even topping that of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”

Reports have surfaced, however, claiming that cast members from the show had not only left the Amish/Mennonite community years ago but have been married, had kids and been divorced. Old photos from social media sites like MySpace and Facebook showing cast members in modern clothes have circulated on the Internet, arousing suspicion from viewers and putting TLC and the skein’s production company, Hot Snakes Media, on the defensive.

In a joint statement TLC and Hot Snakes said: “There is a lot of information floating around about the group featured on ‘Breaking Amish.’ Much of it is not true, but some of it is — and is addressed in upcoming episodes.”

Hot Snakes Media also responded to questions regarding the production of the show earlier this week, before the skein’s controversy began to go viral. “Our Amish and Mennonite producers that we hired introduced us to Amish and Mennonite men and women who were already determined to leave,” the company told Variety. “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.”

Skepticism has become common in the reality TV space. Allegations of staging have emerged with regard to shows from “Storage Wars” to “The Bachelor,” but the contentions against “Breaking Amish” seem more severe given that they undercut the authenticity of the skein’s overall concept and cast doubt on the cast members’ depicted naivete with respect to modern city life. An industry source remarked that in reality TV, “Oftentimes networks turn their head and play the ‘we didn’t know’ card” when it comes to the staging of a show, especially if it draws high ratings.

TLC noted that it does not advertise that the cast of “Breaking Amish” is leaving the community for the first time. Hot Snakes Media’s official website, however, states the program “follows the lives of courageous young Amish men and women as they experience life, for the first time, outside of the Amish community.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Steven Knight

    BBC Orders Steven Knight Drama Series ‘SAS: Rogue Heroes’

    The BBC has ordered “SAS: Rogue Heroes,” which is being adapted by “Peaky Blinders” creator Steven Knight, Oscar nominated for “Dirty Pretty Things,” from Ben Macintyre’s book. The drama series will tell the story of how the British special forces unit, the SAS, came to be formed. The series is being produced by Kudos, whose [...]

  • Masters of the Universe: Revelation

    Kevin Smith Announces Anime 'He-Man' Series for Netflix

    Kevin Smith surprised audiences at Sunday’s annual Power-Con convention by announcing a new anime “He-Man” series for Netflix. The new series, titled “Masters of the Universe: Revelation,” will take place in the Mattel toy inspired world and will focus on some of the unresolved storylines of the classic ‘80s show. Smith will serve as showrunner [...]

  • T.J. Dillashaw, right, kicks Cody Garbrandt

    Disney Plans UFC Broadcast for FX

    UFC matches will return to FX  – but not on a permanent basis. ESPN has been showing preliminary bouts to UFC pay-per-view events for the last while on ESPN and ESPN2, and then showing the main card on its ESPN+ subscription video service. In September, the early lineup will air on FX, which the UFC [...]

  • George RR Martin

    George R.R. Martin Says HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Ending Won't Influence Future Novels

    Geroge R.R. Martin is sticking to his original plan when it comes to the future of “Game of Thrones.” In an interview with The Observer, Martin claimed that HBO’s controversial ending for the series would have no affect on the endings of the last two novels. “No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t change anything at all,” [...]

  • Listen: 'Pennyworth' Producer Talks Delving into

    Listen: 'Pennyworth' Executive Producer Talks Delving into Alfred's Backstory

    Bruno Heller may have served as an executive producer on the Batman-inspired series “Gotham” for the past five years, but it’s actually real-life people (not superheroes) that intrigue the producer the most. It’s for that exact reason that Heller’s newest series finds him exploring the origin stories of Batman’s butler Alfred in the Epix drama [...]

  • "Trust Issues" - Dylan and Lizzie

    'Instinct' Canceled After Two Seasons

    CBS has canceled “Instinct” after two seasons. Series creator Michael Rauch announced the cancellation Friday on Twitter, writing, “I’m very sad to relay the news that @instinctcbs won’t be renewed for a 3rd season. We will double up this Sunday and our season/series finale will be Aug 25.” Rauch also thanked series stars Alan Cumming [...]

  • Maisel Day

    My Mostly OK Maisel Day (Column)

    When Amazon announced its first-ever Maisel Day, I was intrigued. For one day, Aug. 15, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” fans and Angelenos (fangelenos?) could hit up various restaurants, theaters and retailers throughout Los Angeles for special deals, all at 1959 prices. Among the gems: $2.50 makeovers, $0.99 pastrami sandwiches and $0.30 for a gallon of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content