The fake Megalodon documentary that the Discovery channel aired during 2013 Shark Week forever tainted the way I viewed that once illustrious network. Whereas once, Discovery was the Mecca for people who wanted to get a dose of education with their entertainment (edutainment I call it, though why it did not catch on I’ll never know), now, when I see something that seems too stupid or unbelievable on the network, I immediately think it is the result of some bored producer trying to cash in on the mis-education of the modern world, all while snagging ratings and some good advertiser deals. This brings me to my current point, which is about the Discovery show, Amish Mafia, though I use the word “show” loosely. The pressing question here is whether or not Amish Mafia is REAL in the reality TV sense of the word, and the answer might just shock you.
I’ll cut out the filler and get to the good stuff. Is Amish Mafia real? No, it’s not real.
Well, it is and it isn’t. Things get blurry here, people.
What you need to understand about this show is we are taking the word of these people as the word of fact. The narrators, in this case, are two guys who claim to be pretty much running the Amish, behind the scenes, in the same way the mafia would run things in the 40′s and 50′s. But do you understand that narrators don’t have to tell the truth? They are storytellers, and the story they tell you is going to be as interesting as possible. Would you want to watch a show about them churning butter? No, and even THEY know this now. Note I am not actually using anyone’s name from the show, so as to avoid an liability for defamation of character. Who knows, maybe if they found me they would light my buggy on fire and smash my mailbox. Oh wait, no they wouldn’t, because that’s the fake aspect of the show.
THAT, my friends, is where the false comes in.
If you pay VERY CLOSE ATTENTION to the show, you will see that there is a very fast and very short disclaimer that some of the key scenes in the show may have been “recreated” to keep identities safe. How genius is that? That simple disclaimer means, for all intents and purposes, they don’t have to disclose what parts of the show are real and what parts are fake. I will tell you now which parts are fake. ALL THE PARTS THAT SEEM FAKE.
If you were to watch this show and not know, you would think the Amish as violent as any street thugs. In one episode, they outed a guy from the community after he lit one of their trailers on fire. A regular episode has slashed tires, smashed bottles and mailboxes, and regular threats of physical violence interspersed with misquotes from the bible. It is exactly as insane and dishonest as it sounds, and even though they make it very clear that they make up the most excited parts of Amish Mafia, no one in the public seems to have any problem that this is the Discovery channel and not MTV doing this.
My thoughts on this are, if we turn to Discovery for informative shows about real life situations, and we are actually being handed trashy, glorified, fake reality TV, where is there left for us to turn? Where can we go to learn and be entertained by television? Where do we find the REAL edutainment?
The reality is, no one knows anymore. For shame, Discovery. For shame.