'Amish Mafia' Reality Show To Air On Discovery, Early Reviews Question Authenticity Of New Series

 @nadinedeninnon.deninno@ibtimes.com
on December 11 2012 9:34 AM

Reality television is making its way into untapped grounds with the Discovery Channel's new reality show, "Amish Mafia," which follows a group of Amish mafia members around as they uphold the law of the land in Lancaster, Pa.

Critics, however, are questioning the authenticity of the show, which touts re-creations “based on eye-witness accounts, testimonials and the legend of the Amish Mafia.”

The show, which airs on Wednesday and has a sneak preview on Discovery Tuesday, follows around "Lebanon Levi" as he leads a team of Mennonite "mafia" members to resolve disputes throughout Pennsylvania Dutch country.

"I'm just a guy who is willing to do stuff for people," Levi says in a promo for the series.

The new series also boasts a view into the life of the Amish, best known for leading quaint lifestyles without modern luxuries like electricity or television. It also boasts the official Amish church "denies the existence" of the group featured in the show.

Discovery plans to capitalize on the mystery surrounding the Amish community, according to producers, who said they believe they have a hit amongst competitors like National Geographic's "Amish: Out of Order" and TLC's "Breaking Amish."

“Reality television and the Amish are really a match made in TV heaven,” media critic Michael Levine told ABC News. “It is a controversial concept and reality feeds on controversy. It’s outrageous, it’s mysterious and it’s unexpected.”

Through reenactments and testimony spoken in Dutch, the cast led by "Lebanon Levi" will reveal secrets about the Amish community based solely on the truth, despite denial of the group by the church.

Critics have lambasted producers of the show for touting an illusion.

"Judging from the premiere, most of the hour seems staged," wrote Mark A. Perigard of the Boston Herald. "So many faces are blurred out, those coming in late to the hour are going to think their TVs are on the fritz."

"So there’s still hope then that the Loch Ness Monster might get its own reality show, I suppose," he concluded.

Many have compared the show to HBO's hot series "The Sopranos" but falls short in standards.

"Early reviews … suggested the show is to reality what Tony Soprano was to marital fidelity: not even close," the New York Daily News wrote.

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