Amish Mafia

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Amish Mafia
Amish Mafia.jpg
John, Alvin, Lebanon Levi, and Jolin (L-R)
Genre Reality[1]
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 26
Production
Executive producer(s)
  • Eric Evangelista
  • Shannon Evangelista
  • Matthew Kelly
  • Max Micallef
Running time 42 minutes
Production company(s) Hot Snakes Media
Broadcast
Original channel Discovery Channel
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Original run December 12, 2012 (2012-12-12) – present
External links
Website

Amish Mafia is an American reality television[1] series that debuted on December 12, 2012, on the Discovery Channel. The series follows "Lebanon Levi", along with three of his assistants, who are purported to be a "mafia" in an Amish community. Although portrayed by Discovery Channel as documentary reality television, the authenticity of the series has been questioned by scholars, local newspapers and law-enforcement. There have also been opinionated accusations of the series being bigoted and defaming towards the Amish people.

Storyline[edit]

The series follows members of the "Amish Mafia" in their efforts to keep the peace within the Amish community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and protect it from outsiders, as they deal with internal struggles for power as to who will lead the Mafia.[2]

Cast[edit]

  • Lebanon Levi: "Lebanon" is the nickname of Levi King Stoltzfus.[3] Levi has been arrested multiple times for drunk driving. He is also a member of the local fire department.[4] Throughout the series, Levi mentions that he was never officially baptized into the Amish church.
  • Alvin: Alvin Stoltzfus Lantz is Levi's "main assistant", who is soft-spoken but has a loud personality.[5]
  • Jolin: Jolin Zimmerman[6] is portrayed as a Mennonite, and he can therefore accomplish certain tasks that the crew cannot, due to the restrictions by which Amish people must abide.[7]
  • John: John Freeman Schmucker is Esther's brother and a former member of Levi's group. He is mischievous and the son of the former leader of the alleged Amish mafia.[8][9]
  • Esther: Esther Freeman Schmucker knows Levi sees her as more than a friend, and she uses this knowledge to lead Levi on, to the benefit of her brother, John.[10][11]
  • Wayne: Merlin's former enforcer.[12]
  • Alan: Alan Beiler is known as "Schwarze Amish" or Black Amish.[13]
  • Caleb: Caleb is a member Levi's crew and is a from a Brethren community.[14] He is a ladies man with a bit of a temper.
  • Freeman: Freeman Schmucker is Esther and John's brother and is rumored to be possessed by the devil.[15] He remained silent for most of the episodes in which he appeared.
  • Crazy Dave: Dave is a member of Levi's crew.[16]
  • Big Steve: Steve is an associate of Levi's.[17] He is the "muscle" for Levi and his crew.

Episodes[edit]

Series overview[edit]

Season Episodes Originally aired
Season premiere Season finale
1 8 December 11, 2012 (2012-12-11) January 20, 2013 (2013-01-20)
2013 specials 2 March 3, 2013 (2013-03-03) August 12, 2013 (2013-08-12)
2 7 August 13, 2013 (2013-08-13) September 24, 2013 (2013-09-24)
2013 Christmas special 1 December 10, 2013 (2013-12-10)
3 8 February 25, 2014 (2014-02-25) April 8, 2014 (2014-04-08)
4 9 February 15, 2015 (2015-02-15) March 31, 2015 (2015-03-31)

It was announced in March 2013 that the series had been renewed for a second season of eight episodes,[18] which premiered August 13, 2013.[19] The third season premiered on February 25, 2014 and ended on April 8, 2014. The series was renewed for a fourth season on April 3, 2014.[20][1]

Season 1 (2012/13)[edit]

No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Original air date U.S. viewers
(million)
1 1 "No Peace for the Wicked" December 11, 2012 (2012-12-11) 3.43[21]
Note: This episode was a pilot for the series.
2 2 "Fire from the Lord" December 12, 2012 (2012-12-12) 3.41[22]
Lebanon Levi takes his faithful group of men to locate one of their fellow members for whom they have questions. John tries to host a hut party and it doesn't go as planned. Alvin took care of a drug problem and John took care of the problem of fake Amish goods hurting the local business. Alvin dealt with a taxi driver who had been overcharging Amish people.
3 3 "Devil Comes Calling" December 19, 2012 (2012-12-19) 3.07[23]
Levi finds himself in an unusual predicament when a rival mafia boss comes his way. Jolin gets pumped up as he prepares for an upcoming MMA match.
4 4 "The Book of Levi" December 26, 2012 (2012-12-26) 1.77[24]
This episode provides viewers with an in-depth look of what is to come on this season along with the first three episodes.
5 5 "Fall From Grace" January 2, 2013 (2013-01-02) 3.08[25]
Esther releases information that could change who holds the power in the group, and John concocts an illegal buggy race in order to repay his debt.
6 6 "Holy War" January 9, 2013 (2013-01-09) 3.51[26]
Levi's crew contemplates leaving after an ongoing feud with Merlin escalates.
7 7 "The Reckoning" January 16, 2013 (2013-01-16) 3.19[27]
8 8 "The Book of Merlin" January 20, 2013 (2013-01-20) 0.93[28]

2013 specials[edit]

No. in
series
Special
No.
Title Original air date U.S. viewers
(millions)
9 SP1 "Amish Exorcism" March 3, 2013 (2013-03-03) 2.81[29]
The two-hour special shows John and Esther as they partake in an Amish exorcism to clean one of their own. Lebanon Levi works to rebuild his crew while Merlin tries to gain control over the Ohio Amish community.
10 SP2 "The Resurrection" August 12, 2013 (2013-08-12) 1.67[30]

Season 2 (2013)[edit]

No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Original air date U.S. viewers
(million)
11 1 "Wayward Sons" August 13, 2013 (2013-08-13) 2.54[31]
12 2 "Prodigal Son" August 20, 2013 (2013-08-20) 2.38[32]
13 3 "Paradise" August 27, 2013 (2013-08-27) 2.38[33]
14 4 "Brother's Keeper" September 3, 2013 (2013-09-03) 2.58[34]
15 5 "The Last Supper" September 10, 2013 (2013-09-10) 2.30[35]
16 6 "Sacrificial Lamb" September 17, 2013 (2013-09-17) 2.71[36]
17 7 "Judgment Day" September 24, 2013 (2013-09-24) 2.15[37]

2013 Christmas special[edit]

No. in
series
Special
No.
Title Original air date U.S. viewers
(million)
18 SP3 "A Very Amish Christmas" December 10, 2013 (2013-12-10) 1.47[38]

Season 3 (2014)[edit]

No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Original air date U.S. viewers
(million)
19 1 "He Has Risen" February 25, 2014 (2014-02-25) 2.27[39]
20 2 "De Rott" March 4, 2014 (2014-03-04) 1.73[40]
21 3 "Deadly Sins" March 11, 2014 (2014-03-11) 2.30[41]
22 4 "Joining the Flock" March 18, 2014 (2014-03-18) 2.06[42]
23 5 "The Bear" March 25, 2014 (2014-03-25) 2.27[43]
24 6 "Doppel Leben" April 1, 2014 (2014-04-01) 2.42[44]
25 7 "Shepherds' End" April 8, 2014 (2014-04-08) 2.45[45]
Levi and his crew demand that production end and cease any further participation. Steven Breit, who defended John and recommended that Levi drop out, filed a cease-and-desist order. The episode ended with an on-screen note stating that as of February 26, 2014, production has been halted.
26 8 "End of Days" April 8, 2014 (2014-04-08) 2.31[46]
The season finale features unaired footage, background information, and further explanation of the season's sudden end. The majority of those involved refused to participate. The only people willing to talk on camera were a private investigator, Lancaster County Constable Paul Castline, lawyer Steven Breit, and Alan Beiler.

Season 4 (2015)[edit]

No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Original air date U.S. viewers
(million)
27 1 "The Return" February 10, 2015 (2015-02-10) 2.08[47]
28 2 "A Church Divided" February 17, 2015 (2015-02-17) 1.72[48]
29 3 "Love Your Enemies" February 24, 2015 (2015-02-24) 1.44[49]
30 4 "Forbidden Knowledge" March 3, 2015 (2015-03-03) 1.34[50]
31 5 "Merlin's Judas" March 10, 2015 (2015-03-10) 0.86[51]
32 6 "False Prophets" March 17, 2015 (2015-03-17) 1.53[52]
33 7 "Day of Reckoning" March 24, 2015 (2015-03-24) 1.65[53]
34 8 "The End is Near" March 31, 2015 (2015-03-31) N/A
35 9 "Amish Confidential Post-Show" March 31, 2015 (2015-03-31) N/A

Authenticity and criticism[edit]

The veracity of the events depicted on the series has been widely questioned, with The New York Times noting that "An early credit warns of 'select re-enactments,' and since we're never later told whether we're watching staged scenes, it's fairly safe to assume that everything is staged." Additionally, "A closing credit clarifies that 're-creations are based on eyewitness accounts, testimonials and the legend of the Amish Mafia'."[54] It is not publicly known which scenes are based on accounts and testimonials and which are based on legend.

The series has been strongly criticized by Amish scholars. Donald Kraybill, an Elizabethtown College professor and prominent researcher of the Anabaptist lifestyle, states regarding Levi being an unbaptized Amish: "Baptism is essential in the Amish faith: Either you're in or you're out".[55] Also, Kraybill and others observed, genuine Amish folks wouldn't appear on camera, as the faith forbids it. "To call these shows documentaries is a fraudulent lie," and "[the show] is just sort of an example of the foolishness and stupidity and lies—misrepresentations I should say—that are promoted [about the Amish] in television.... These production crews should be ashamed of trying to say that represents Amish life."[56][57] This view is echoed by Donald[58] Weaver-Zercher, Messiah College Professor and Amish expert, who stated that upon initially seeing the trailer for the show, "I thought maybe it was a Saturday Night Live skit on reality television because it was so [far-fetched]. My sense is this Amish mafia is about as real as the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company on The Office."[58] Several sources agree that the Amish community are unlikely to respond as to the credibility of the show's plot due to the fact they value their privacy and usually do not interact with the media.[59][60] Jeffrey Conrad, former prosecutor in Lancaster County stated that his office was not aware of an "Amish Mafia", and if there were they would have been prosecuted.[55]

Several factual errors has been pointed out by local press: during one episode the narrator states that Lebanon Levi was arrested by the Lancaster County Police, which does not exist. There is a Lancaster City Bureau of Police, but no county-wide force.[55][61] The owners of one store portrayed as paying protection money to Lebanon Levi have denied having any relationship with him.[62] A scene claimed to be shot in the heart of Amish country — south-central Lancaster County, turned out to been shot in a riverside park in Columbia on the county's western edge.[55]

The series has been controversial both locally and in national media as a result of its alleged bigoted and inaccurate portrayal of the Amish.[63][64] Churches and Lancaster County residents have banded together in support of their opposition to the show.[65] Additionally, Governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania has called for an end to the show and called the show "bigoted" and "an affront to all people of faith and all secular people with moral principles."[66]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Discovery Channel Dominates as #1 in All of Television Among Men on Tuesday with "American Chopper Live: The Revenge" and "Amish Mafia" Sneak Peek Premiere". Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Biography – Lebanon Levi". Retrieved December 18, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Who is Lebanon Levi from Amish Mafia? Levi Stoltzfus mug shot photo and criminal record". Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Biography – Alvin". Retrieved December 18, 2012. 
  6. ^ Hatmaker, Julia (August 21, 2013). "'Amish Mafia' update: Arrests, professional actors and a trip to Florida". The Patriot-News. Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Biography – Jolin". Retrieved December 18, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Biography – John". Retrieved December 18, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Amish Mafia – About the show". Retrieved December 18, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Biography – Esther". Retrieved December 18, 2012. 
  11. ^ ""Amish Mafia" episode review: The Reckoning – Chuck Miller". Blog.timesunion.com. January 17, 2013. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Wayne". Discovery. Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Levi's Former Events Coordinator". Discovery. Archived from the original on September 1, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2012. 
  14. ^ "New Addition to Levi's Team". Discovery. Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Freeman". Discovery. Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  16. ^ "New Addition to Levi's Group". Discovery. Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Big Steve". Discovery. Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  18. ^ Schneider, Michael. "Exclusive: Discovery Renews Amish Mafia For Season Two". TV Guide. Retrieved March 3, 2013. 
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  54. ^ Hale, Mike (December 11, 2012). "The Dirty Work for the Clean". The New York Times. 
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  59. ^ George, David (December 12, 2012). "'Amish Mafia': Is there really such a thing as an Amish thug?". Salon. Retrieved December 17, 2012. 
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  61. ^ "'Amish Mafia' sparks more controversy in Central PA". Retrieved January 4, 2013. 
  62. ^ "'Amish Mafia' TV Show: SPOILER Reveals The Truth Behind The Series' Legitimacy, Details". Retrieved January 4, 2013. 
  63. ^ "Joint Statement of Respect Amish". Retrieved August 6, 2014. 
  64. ^ Shank, Michael (November 29, 2012). "'Amish Mafia' is a shameful, unrealistic portrayal of plain people". The Washington Post. Guest Voices. Retrieved December 17, 2012. 
  65. ^ "Harrisburg Patriot". Retrieved August 6, 2014. 
  66. ^ "Governor Corbett calls for an end to 'Amish Mafia'". Retrieved August 13, 2014. 
General references

External links[edit]