Amish in the City Recap 8/11/04 – No Electricity? Barbecue Time!
Welcome to the third episode of Amish in the City! We find out it’s been almost a month since everyone’s been in the house, and the Amish have basically been shown a whole lot of lounging around, some fun, and even less work as being the city life they’ve been so curious about. I think the producers were hoping for a little more drama in the house than “put away your underwear” because everyone seems to have settled into either playing card games, bumper pool, working out, or sitting by the pool.
The First Crisis: What Flavored Coffee Do I Pick?
As the show beings, Nick and Whitney talk about how they miss the real city life. Whitney goes to college in South Central, L.A. while Nick is a busboy in Boston, and they aren’t used to getting a quiet hillside view of lots of rich homes. Meanwhile, Jonas and Ruth are having a discussion about Rumspringa, and Jonas still believes that staying with the Amish is the easiest route. Ruth mentions that she has her G.E.D. diploma (the equivalent of a high school diploma) and Jonas is immediately interested in whatever information she has on it. It’s been obvious from the past two episodes that while Jonas might still go back to the Amish after Rumspringa, he will get some form of education until then.
In the next segment, we see Mose, Miriam and Meagan go out for ice blended coffee. Mose has to pick from a variety of flavors, and since he doesn’t know what white chocolate is, he decides to pick that. Now look – I understand that for the Amish, every little detail about the city life can be enthralling, but did the show really have to make a segment about three roommates going out for coffees?
Back at the house, Jonas gets a message down the tube telling him that he has a package waiting for him at the front door. It turns out that Jonas was given a gift from the producers – G.E.D. test guides! As we witness Jonas’ excitement over getting material for studying for his G.E.D. tests, Mose hammers on the point that the Amish aren’t allowed to study past the 8th grade. Jonas immediately dives into the material and I’m pretty sure that’s all he’ll be doing until he takes his test.
Where All The Lights Are Bright
That evening, Meagan shares with the others that she witnessed a shooting where she previously worked. Whitney jumps in and shares that her best friend was shot and killed in South Central. Miriam is a little jolted by the realization that shootings can happen in the city. She should be ok. I don’t think shootings are as common up where they’re staying as some place like – say - downtown L.A. The next morning, the roommates find out they’re going to downtown L.A. (sorry Miriam). Ruth is a little nervous but off they go in the SUV. Ruth tells us that in the Amish community, a homeless person would be taken in, and so that’s why she has never seen them. We find out the roommates are actually headed down to a gang intervention center. There, they hear from two men that have walked away from gang life, and Ruth makes an astute observation about a parallel between gangs and Amish life. She says that you have to stay “in it” or else you’re pushed out.
Compelled by the talk at the intervention center, everyone heads off to a random back alley and cleans it up. I guess they’re just being shown a taste of what community service would be like, but I really think cleaning up one alley does little more than give Amish in the City an extra segment to fill the one hour slot.
Mose says “good luck with your program” and the roommates head off to Whitney’s house for a family barbeque. Whitney is thrilled, and as all the roommates arrive at her house, we find out that Whitney is very close with her family, and everyone there is pretty jovial. As Ruth witnesses how close Whitney is to her family, she tells us that she wishes her family was as close as Whitney’s, and reminds us of the Amish family exclusivity clause (if you leave Amish life, you’ve got no family).
It eventually becomes time to introduce the Amish kids to the family, and Whitney tells everyone that those five over there, well “they’re Amish” in the same tone you’d tell your parents you’ve brought home five stray animals. The barbeque kicks off and everyone is mingling pretty well, including the Amish. Mose is enjoying some volleyball as Whitney’s uncle, Keith, asks Ruth about Amish life. Keith and who I assume to be his wife eventually get to the fact that the Amish have no electricity, and she makes a hilarious comment that they must barbeque a lot as a result. Keith one-ups her by saying they must be Amish too since they barbeque every weekend. We find out from Keith that having no bills is good, but having HBO and ESPN is better, which I agree with. All in all, everyone seems to have a really great time and there’s a whole lot of hugging when it becomes time to go.
The Shark Whisperer
The next day, the roommates get a message from the tube (I wonder where the messages actually come from. Is there some guy living in the floor above them whose sole responsibility is to write messages to the roommates? If I lived in that house, that’d be the first place I’d check) They find out they’re heading to the aquarium and once there, Ariel immediately starts arguing with the tour guides about how happy the sharks in the aquarium are (or aren’t). For example, she asks one tour guide: “So do you eat like, fish or are you against all eating of marine life?” He tells her he does eat fish, and she follows up her question with “And you feel fine about that?” when what she really meant to say was “I have nothing but contempt for you.” When he asks her how she knows the fish are unhappy she tells them that she can just feel their pain. The tour guide then makes a joke about her possible telepathic powers. Granted, I think she could have an argument about how fish feel in captivity and I’m sure she’d have some great points – but to argue about it with the tour guide makes everyone around you feel uncomfortable.
Kevan tells it like it is when he shares with us that Ariel is a snobby spoiled brat. He happens to says that through a blanket statement that says the entire group is composed of spoiled brats, so he gets docked points for that. Everyone then moves down to the bird sanctuary and holds birds on their hands and heads. Mose, who tells us he’s had his arms crapped on by cows while he was milking them before, complains about getting bird droppings on his arm.
For Your Birthday: A Restaurant
Back at the house, Ruth and Miriam have a discussion with Reese about the circumstances under which they left the Amish community. I become confused about how they left, as Miriam says that leaving was “hell” because she had just broken up with her boyfriend at the time. I thought that Rumspringa was an accepted ritual, and that it was somewhat common for young adults to go through it. Why would she have problems as a result of it? Or is she talking about some earlier departure - one that occurred before Rumspringa? Ruth agrees that leaving was “hell” and that makes two of them that left under bad circumstances. Ruth then says that that the Amish family is much closer to you after you are baptized in an Amish church and that since she isn’t baptized, her family believes she’s going to hell. The discussion ends with the same dilemma: will they stay or will they go?
Miriam’s birthday comes along and she is sad that her best friend and cousin, Elsie is not with her to celebrate it. We then see an odd little scene between Miriam and Kevan: Miriam hovers over Kevan as he looks straight ahead, working out. In between reps, Kevan squeezes out a “happy birthday” wish and instead of being surprised at the lack of attention she’s getting, Miriam just thanks him. I think that scene really summed up a lot of Kevan and Miriam’s traits. Kevan is pretty removed, but has enough social experience to know when and what to say something in a conversation (not necessarily how to say it, though), while Miriam is care-free and seems happy just talking to others, even if others don’t show a particular interest in talking to her. The tube-man sends out a message to Miriam – she’s going to celebrate her birthday in town tonight. She’s very excited and goes straight to Reese for her wardrobe needs. He lets her borrow his shirt which is apparently one of his more masculine ones as he proceeds to put on his own shirt which has a see-through, flowery design.
At the L.A. restaurant, Kevan toasts Miriam with some extra cheesy lines (“a special birthday for a special someone”) and a few minutes into the dinner, Miriam completely freaks out at seeing something off screen….but we go straight to commercial before we see who/what it is. We can only guess that something life-changing would be happening to her after the break; well that, or her cousin would be paying her a visit at the restaurant. This is Amish in the City, so you shouldn’t overestimate the surprises. Anyhow, it turns out it really is Elsie, her cousin and best friend, and it apparently makes her day as these two are real close. Miriam goes over what she’s done so far at the show for Elsie, while we get an unnecessary overview of it ourselves. We see two second snippets from the previous shows that don’t come close to summing up her experience. Eventually the cake comes out, and Miriam thanks everybody for “being so happy for her.” I usually speak only for myself when I thank others, but to each his own.
Next up, it’s an L.A. club! Miriam shows off some wild and crazy dance moves, and everyone is understandably surprised at her lack of restraint. What’s interesting to me is that the Amish kids don’t seem to have any problem dancing the sinful city dance on the floor. Miriam’s birthday eventually ends and she is very happy about how it went.
For Winning:…A Restaurant
The next day, everyone goes out to Hollywood. They visit Mann’s Chinese Theater, the walk of fame, and out of some tube we do not see, show us messages mentioning a certain “battle of the sexes” searching game. We find out that the roommates will split up into two groups - guys and girls - and that each must find three stars (Shirley Temple, Sammy Davis Jr., and Lassie), take pictures with each of them, and then touch the Hollywood & Vine street sign. The winning team gets a night on the town. The losers will get – well, what they usually get: lounging around the house for the evening. At that point, I note that the production value for this show must have really gone up if they managed to get Shirley Temple, Sammy Davis Jr. and Lassie to make appearances on the show – especially considering the fact that Sammy Davis Jr. and the original Lassie are now dead. Alas, I quickly realize that they meant they would have to search for their stars on the sidewalk.
The guys want to win and the girls want to win as well, we learn, so the competition will be nothing less than intense! Jonas tells us he still doesn’t know why they have stars there on the sidewalk and to tell you the truth, neither do I. After much walking around, the girls win the game, and are very happy because that means they kill two birds with one stone: they get to smash the guys’ egos and Miriam’s cousin can get one more evening to go out with her best friend. Devastated, the guys head back home wondering what the girls will do tonight.
It turns out the girls go to yet another restaurant for the night, so the guys aren’t missing all that much. Back in the house, Kevan works out, Mose just relaxes on the couch and Jonas studies, while Reese and Nick have a smoke and talk on the patio. As the girls come back to the house, the guys find out all the girls had filet mignon while Ruth had pizza. They all laugh at her in unison for some childish reason (I believe it’s because everyone had something expensive while Ruth settled for merely a pizza when she could have had more), but Ruth strikes back with complaints about their mocking.
Though it is true that when living with a group of young adults, you’re bound to be the butt of a joke every now and then, I’ll admit that they went on laughing a little too long after they knew she had a problem with it. Mose counsels her about the psychological harshness of city life, and how you have to put up your guard because any slip you make could come back to bite you. “The more that you want pity, the less that you’re going to get it, that’s just the way the world treats you,” says Mose and though that outlook might seem jaded, I think he’s definitely got a point. It is true that you have to careful about what you say or do, because others, especially in groups, will enjoy laughing at something you do that’s out of the norm. I suppose it really depends on who you hang with, and the Amish kids didn’t exactly get the most forgiving type of roommates.
When In Doubt, Conform
The next morning after Elsie leaves, we see Reese take interest in Jonas’ studying. Reese proposes to read an essay for Jonas and make some suggestions to improve his writing. The essay concerns a memorable moment in Jonas’ life: when his brother drowned. In a bizarre confessional, Reese tells us he was surprised Jonas had the capacity in his brain to compose an essay. Jonas isn’t stupid, Reese, and I’m sure his brain capacity is just fine; he just needs to hone his writing skills. The essay is quite sad, and I am left to wonder just how much that event changed him as he is now quite reserved.
Ruth tells us that after the fight from the night before, she decided she would want to get her belly button pierced to fit in. Wonderful reason! When others laugh at you for being yourself, make sure you try to fit in as much as you can… She and Meagan go out and after Meagan gets herself a new tattoo, it becomes Ruth’s turn for a piercing. It all goes fairly quickly and Ruth shows no signs of pain even though she shares with us that it felt like it took all her innards out. She’s left laughing and giggling afterwards, so I think it wasn’t all that bad.
Though the show can have its slow parts, I must admit that it’s been more respectful to the roommates’ feelings than any other show I’ve seen before. It does provide some insights into the backgrounds and motivations of the characters, and that results in better payoffs when something remotely important happens to them.
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