Mafia Reality Show a "Bigoted Libel of the Amish"

Levi, a phony "mob boss," and his crew of half wits.
From Philly.comPlain untruth -- Amish Mafia, the Discovery Channel series being shunned by many Pennsylvania politicians, attributes systematic violence to a pacifist community that's among the least likely to produce it - probably because any claim so counterintuitive is bound to attract eyeballs. We're apparently meant to imagine a gang whose threatening horse's head once had a buggy attached, and whose Dutch-country consigliere intones, "Leave the gun. Take the shoofly.

In the absence of a budget for competent writing and acting, the appeal of this thin conceit depends on the notion that the depicted events might have happened. Amish Mafia's producers encourage this idea among the unsuspecting with Orwellian disclaimers noting that "the Amish church denies the existence" of the mob and that "select" scenes are concocted - slyly suggesting truth by acknowledging falsehood.

Mafia's protagonist is one Lebanon Levi, an ersatz, backwoods Tony Soprano leading a band of half-wits who blow up cars and take bets on pig races in a fundamentally inexplicable quest to protect the Amish community. Experts, not to mention any remotely sentient analysis, confirm that it's (poorly) scripted hogwash, along the same lines as Discovery's 2013 mockumentary positing that a long-extinct giant shark might yet turn up trolling the waters off Absecon.

Pointing out that Mafia is not real - or worth watching - would seem as unnecessary as the show itself. Unfortunately, it's necessary enough that Lancaster police have developed a boilerplate response to frequent questions about their failure to go all Eliot Ness on the Mennonite mob.

So it's no wonder that the show and its surprisingly numerous family of "Amish-sploitation" imitators are facing a backlash that began with dismayed Lancaster County locals and recently reached the desks of Gov. Corbett and U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey. They and other officials have urged Discovery and its sponsors to abandon the series as a bigoted libel of the Amish.

Indeed, beyond being stupid, Amish Mafia is deceptive, embodying the modern media's tendency not just to blur the line between fact and fiction but, as the disclaimer puts it, to deny its existence.

But is it bigotry? Of course it is. The show and its brethren rely on misunderstandings about members of a religious minority whose customs, conveniently enough, prevent them from defending themselves. As the group Lancastrians Against Amish-sploitation notes, it's impossible to imagine a series called "Jewish Mafia" - or, even though the pope recently saw fit to address the real mob, "Catholic Mafia."

Sure, the constitutional amendment that protects religious minorities also protects cynical and ridiculous television. Fortunately, we can take a cue from the actual Amish and refrain from watching.


  1. The late author Phil Carlo , was a liar n all his books seem to have fallen by the waist side , personally speaking Tommy never EVER had or did have a girl type voice ! He spoke in a low quiet tone unlike the loud mouth briagonne men of his time , as I mentioned on my FB page or Twitter it takes only one person with one lie to ruin another's reputation , Tommy was a respectfull guy ,

  2. What's respect have to do with his voice? Why do you have to piss everyone off?? This is MY blog, not FB or Twitter. You can't just say any damn thing, Ava, there are limits.


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