The Amish Mafia: Reality TV’s La Costra Nostra

The show title ‘Amish Mafia’ alone was titillating enough to peak my interest, but the content and characters have made me a diehard fan.  Although it does well for Discovery Channel, a lot of people may not be aware of how entertaining this reality skinny-dip really is.  Here’s a small bit of the Discovery.com description of the show:

Untrusting of outside law enforcement, some Amish in Lancaster County, PA have for many years regularly turned to a small organized group of men for protection and justice. Discovery’s new series Amish Mafia provides a first-ever look at the men who protect and maintain peace and order within the Amish community in Lancaster.

The show follows Lebanon Levi and his band of “gangsters” as they lay down the law to people who violate their Amish colleague’s property, honor, and well-being, both in and out of the community.  It is not unusual to see horse buggies being blown up, baseball bats used for home destructions, or good old fashion human beat downs.  Again, it’s magnificent reality television.

The season two finale (‘Sacrificial Lamb’) last week was action-packed and full of teasers for season three.  Viewers witnessed the initiation of what we think is a relationship between Levi and Ester, once Ester betrayed her brothers by facilitating their exit from the community (one was put in a mental institution, one was essentially banished).  We also saw Levi get his hands slapped by the bishops (the real Amish mafia), and watched him try to fix the damage he’d done by hiding a maple syrup business (yes you read that correctly) from them.  In the end, the biggest plot device was all of the enemies Levi has racked up as a result of building his mafia empire.

One of Levi’s biggest rivals is Alan Beiler, the only ethnic (I believe he’s African American) member of this Amish community.  Alan has teamed up with Levi’s other main rival Merlin (an Ohio Amish Mafia “boss”), who has now enlisted the help of a crazy Amish sadist named Paul.  Vito Corleone’s (the original Godfather) enemies have nothing on this crazy bunch of characters.  What was funny in the finale is the fact that Alan was sent to jail (yet again) and blamed Levi the entire time.  We never really found out what Levi actually did to “set him up,” and he never offered an explanation.  He just assured the audience that “Levi was gonna pay!”  Why?  What did he do?  How did he do it?  Alan was charged with fleeing and eluding troopers during the chase.

According a Penn Live article, “troopers noticed the registration on Alan’s 2004 Jeep Liberty was expired and tried to stop him.”  How is that a product of Levi’s “evil genius?”  What made this situation so entertaining was the Godfather-esque way the producers displayed this situation.  While Alan was walking inside the courthouse to get his subsequent sentence (and then walking in a handcuffed line to the jail transport bus), Levi was attending a Library book signing where he was being fawned over and treated like the prototypical celebrity he apparently is.  It was straight out of the end of ‘The Godfather’ where Michael was actually becoming godfather to Connie’s son while simultaneously having each and every one of his enemies executed.  This portrayal by the producers of ‘Amish Mafia’ was both hilarious and masterful.

If you can’t tell, I highly recommend this show and hope it gets picked up for a third season.  The finale ended with Merlin on his way to “get Levi” so I can’t wait to see how that plays out for him.  We also never really saw if Levi was able to smooth things over with the bishops or if he and Ester are going to get married and make their relationship legitimate.  I am also looking forward to seeing more of this season’s breakthrough star Wayne (Merlin’s old consigliere), the small yet tough new Ohio ‘Amish Mafia’ leader.  I’m just anticipating an announcement that Discovery has green-lit season three.

Anyone who doubts the validity of the show are directed to view the season two special episode ‘Judgment Day’ where according to Discovery, the producers show, “Never-before-seen footage and exclusive interviews show what really happened behind the scenes during this season’s run of Amish Mafia. The group talks about its reaction to the show and reveals proof that the show is absolutely real.”

(Videos can of course be found at Dsc.discovery.com)

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Jack Gotta

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