The series focuses on “temptations abound as a group of young Amish explore life beyond their Amish culture,” according to the network. “Ultimately, they will make the biggest decision of their lives — to remain Amish/Mennonite or become English and face the consequences of being shunned by their family and friends.” It’s become increasingly popular since then — with the spinoff Return to Amish now in its sixth season.
Back in 2012, TLC and the show’s production company, Hot Snakes Media, released a joint statement via The Huffington Post which addressed the speculation that scenes were crafted to boost ratings. Around that time, it was theorized that some of the cast members had already embarked on their lives outside of the Amish community.
“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,” it read.
Hot Snakes further elaborated on this to Variety and explained, “Our Amish and Mennonite producers that we hired introduced us to Amish and Mennonite men and women who were already determined to leave. 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.”
Various controversies have led to viewers believing the show is scripted. For example, Jeremiah Raber is said to have left the Amish community at age 18. However, in 2012, at age 30, he was filmed doing modern-day tasks like using a cell phone “for the first time.”
He spoke out about the theories surrounding the show in a 2015 interview with the site Blast Zone Online, noting that people may not fully understand the community. “A lot of people think they know how Amish live all because they might live around some or they heard certain things about the Amish,” he shared. “Where I’m from there are 13 kinds of Amish. The strictest ones are just like the movie ‘witness’. The more modern ones have electricity, cell phones, computers, etc. so, they have to realize not all Amish are the same.”
Jeremiah also said he couldn’t say the show was “100 percent real” because some of the reality TV moments took some planning. “Every place we go to has to be set up in advance meaning that the owner of every place has to sign a release prior to us filming at that location,” he noted. “Yes, there are parts that are scripted. Every reality show is that way to make things juicy and interesting for the viewers.”
Another controversy surrounding the cast was over Rebecca Byler and Abe Schmucker, who were allegedly filmed meeting in New York “for the first time” — even though they had been together for a while prior to the episode fans saw on television. Rebecca was also a divorcee, which is particularly frowned upon in the Amish community.
Other eagle-eyed fans have uncovered social media profiles and more — all of which adds evidence to support this theory.
Regardless, we still think this makes for great cable!