Ellen Gray: 'Breaking Amish': Amish go to NYC in new reality show
* BREAKING AMISH. 10 p.m. Sunday, TLC. ANYONE WHO THINKS a TV-free household is the answer to keeping kids from following in Snooki's shaky footsteps might want to take a lesson from the Amish, for whom "reality" television's become a plague their Anabaptist ancestors couldn't anticipate.
* BREAKING AMISH. 10 p.m. Sunday, TLC.
ANYONE WHO THINKS a TV-free household is the answer to keeping kids from following in Snooki's shaky footsteps might want to take a lesson from the Amish, for whom "reality" television's become a plague their Anabaptist ancestors couldn't anticipate.
Turns out it's not all that easy to keep some of them, at least, down on the farm once there's a video camera in their faces.
On Sunday, TLC's "Breaking Amish" becomes the latest show to try to document what happens when a small group of young people brought up for the most part without electricity - or even zippers - moves to the big city.
Judging from the coming attractions teased throughout the relatively tame premiere, there'll eventually be drinking and tattooing and fussing and fighting, all taking place somewhere in New York City.
Two of the five participants are from Pennsylvania's Lancaster County. One, Kate, is identified as a bishop's daughter and says she'd like to be a model like the ones she's been seeing in magazines since she was a child. The other, Sabrina, the show's one Mennonite participant, sings to the chickens and thinks she'd like to be able to sing to people without being accused of showing off.
The rest, from Punxsutawney, Pa., and from Ohio, all have their reasons for wanting a taste of life outside, although it's not clear how many of them would've chosen the Big Apple - or could afford to live there - without the assistance of the show's producers (who insisted at a press conference this summer that they were merely offering their subjects a "safe" way to explore).
Certainly Jeremiah, who's determined to learn to drive a car, couldn't have chosen a less convenient place to fulfill that particular dream.
It may be telling that two of the five were adopted from outside their communities and a third, the daughter of an unwed mother, says she was teased as a child because of her situation. These are people who already feel like outsiders.
Yes, "Breaking Amish" is giving viewers a rare glimpse into Amish households (though most of the subjects' families and friends appear to have refused to appear on camera and the few who do don't look too happy about it).
But it's also taking young people without much education or street smarts and placing them in an environment for which they can't possibly be prepared. And then, of course, filming them.
Maybe that's no worse than what MTV's done with "Teen Mom" and "Jersey Shore."
But it's no better, either.
Also this weekend:
* Kenneth Branagh returns as Kurt Wallander in "Wallander III" as PBS' "Masterpiece Mystery!" (9 p.m. Sunday through Sept. 23, WHYY 12) unveils three more stories from Henning Mankell about the splendidly sad Swedish detective.
In Sunday's episode, "An Event in Autumn," Wallander, who appears to have found happiness at last - new girlfriend, new digs, new dog - doesn't so much take his work home with him as have it follow him there in the form of a skeleton unearthed from his new back yard.
Naturally, it's all downhill from there. Wallander can't catch a break. But Branagh playing unhappy is still Branagh, and the scenery alone is worth a bit of sadness.
* "Drop Dead Diva" (9 p.m. Sunday, Lifetime) ends its season by apparently hitting the reset button in the final moments of an episode that features a cameo by former regular Ben Feldman (who's more recently been seen in AMC's "Mad Men"). This one surprised me.
* PBS' "Broadway or Bust" (8 p.m. Sunday, WHYY 12), a documentary series with more than a touch of "Glee," launches a three-part look at students competing in the National High School Musical Theater Awards.