The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
Columnist and author Melissa Crawley writes about what's hot on TV.
‘Amish Mafia’ is an offer you can refuse
email print
About this blog
Melissa Crawley has a PhD in media studies from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Her book: Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television's \x34The West Wing\x34 was published in 2006. She has also published work online ...
TV Reviews
Melissa Crawley has a PhD in media studies from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Her book: Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television's The West Wing was published in 2006. She has also published work online at PopMatters and Flow as well as chapters in the edited collections: The American President in Popular Culture and The Great American Makeover. Her weekly syndicated television column, Stay Tuned, is part of GateHouse News Service. Follow her on Twitter @melissacrawley
Recent Posts
By smal3082
Sept. 16, 2013 5:10 a.m.

So the Amish, a traditionalist Christian group, who are recognized for their simple dress, rejection of modern technology and use of the horse and buggy, have a mafia. Who knew? Apparently, not the Amish church who according to the show “Amish Mafia” denies the existence of this underground gang of thugs who are all about making money in the guise of policing their community. Season two of “Amish Mafia” focuses on the bad blood between rival bosses “Lebanon Levi” of Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Merlin of Ohio. Instead of highlighting the real lives of a little understood community, this series creates pseudo drama by elevating petty men to the level of gangsters.
This season, Levi is having trouble keeping his ‘enforcers’ in line. Right hand man Alvin lost his driver’s license after getting into trouble in Florida while “Crazy Dave” is finding sobriety difficult. Jolin, the Mennonite on Levi’s crew, walked out on the boss last season but feels the pull to come back to the life. A young guy named Caleb joins the gang and eager to prove himself, is sent on a few missions. These include scaring off a guy selling mobile phones to Amish kids and running a photographer out of town who is taking and selling photos of the community.
As all ‘mafia dons’ know, life as the boss is about maintaining power and Levi is fighting to keep Merlin from taking his. Merlin wants revenge because Levi engineered his excommunication from the church in season one so he collects Levi’s unburned trash and examines it for ways to bring him down. Merlin is disgusted at Levi’s “English” or non-Amish ways, telling us that all Amish burn their garbage because they don’t want outsiders knowing their business. Either that, or Amish aren’t too keen on paying for waste disposal. Either way, Merlin discovers that Levi is running a secret maple syrup business which he promptly sends his enforcer, a little person named Wayne, to destroy. As Wayne chops trees, Merlin sits nearby and quotes passages from the Bible.
Then there’s Esther. Esther has recently returned to Lancaster but her odd brothers and their habit of getting into trouble with the police is damaging the family name. It’s hard to figure out exactly what Esther wants but she’s sly and probably the most interesting character in a show that is impossible to take seriously.
Maybe it’s all the re-enactments with blurred faces meant to “ensure the safety of innocent Amish,” or the soundtrack that moves between “Deliverance” style fiddle playing to something you might hear on an episode of “Dateline.” It might be an editing style that cuts scenic shots of Amish children playing with broody shots of sinister looking farm equipment. Or, it could be the feeling that you’re watching a bad foreign film as subtitles flash onscreen to translate the “Pennsylvania Dutch” (which sounds like a slang version of German) everyone speaks.
But mostly, I find this series silly because I grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and feel somewhat protective of this rural town and its population. While my experience with Amish was limited to hearing the clomp, clomp of their horse and buggies trotting down my street on Sunday mornings, I did know one Amish person. Her name is Rachel and she was my boss when I was in high school working part time as a cook in a local restaurant.
Rachel was tough but fair and she had a sharp sense of humor. She broke barriers and taught me that we weren’t so different despite the very different lives we lead. The producers of “Amish Mafia” should have tracked her down. She would have been a far better representation than this little gang of bullies.
“Amish Mafia” is on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EDT on Discovery.

Recent Posts
    Terms of Service

    latest blogs

    • Community
    • National

  • Financial Advice from Jim Cramer
  • Read More
  • Events Calendar