Amish in popular culture

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The Amish have been portrayed in many areas of popular culture.


Topical film & television[edit]


  • In George Romero's horror film Diary of the Dead (2007), a deaf Amish man appears and helps the main survivors before killing himself, after being infected.
  • In the comedy Sex Drive (2008), the three main characters hitchhike with an Amish man, played by Seth Green, who takes them to his home. There they find a party during rumspringa, where the character Lance meets his future love interest in the film.
  • For Richer or Poorer (1997) is a comedy film starring Tim Allen and Kirstie Alley, who find themselves hiding in a small Amish community in Pennsylvania.


Children's literature[edit]

  • Marguerite de Angeli's children's story Henner's Lydia (1936) portrays a tender Amish family. The author sketched many of the illustrations at the site of the Little Red Schoolhouse[2] still standing at the intersection of Pennsylvania Route 23 and Red Schoolhouse Road, just west of Morgantown, Pennsylvania. Today the building is the Amish Mennonite Information Center. The Lancaster County landscape, portrayed in the end papers of the book, can be recognized throughout the area. De Angeli's illustrations of a nearby bank barn were sketched just hours before the barn was destroyed by fire. *Marguerite de Angeli incorporated the incident in her 1944 Caldecott Honor book Yonie Wondernose (1944), a story about a curious Amish boy, younger brother to the Lydia of Henner's Lydia.
  • Beverly Lewis, known for her numerous award-winning Amish novels, has also written several picture books and chapter books for children.
  • Virginia Sorensen's children's book, Plain Girl (1956) is still in print.

Modern novels[edit]

See also: Amish romance
  • Linda Castillo's Kate Burkholder series of crime thrillers is set in Painters Mill, a fictional town in Ohio's Amish country.
  • W. Dale Cramer won a Christy Award for Levi's Will, a novel based on his father's life after leaving the Amish as a teenager. He wrote a series, The Daughters of Caleb Bender, based once again on the history of his family, this time with his great-grandfather. It follows a small group of Amish fleeing persecution in America in the 1920s and settling in Mexico.
  • Kathryn Cushman's Almost Amish is a novel about two modern families trying to live Amish for a reality TV show.
  • Paul Gaus's Ohio Amish Mystery series is set among the Amish community in Holmes County, Ohio.
  • Leslie Gould is writing a series of books, set in the Amish world, based on William Shakespeare's plays. The first book, Courting Cate, is based on The Taming of the Shrew.[citation needed]
  • Paul Levinson's Locus Award–winning novel The Silk Code (1999) portrays Amish farmers involved in a science-fiction mystery about biotechnology and mysterious deaths
  • Beverly Lewis, the "Queen of Amish Fiction", has written an extensive series of Amish romantic fiction.
  • Lurlene McDaniel's The Angel Trilogy is an Amish fiction series.Lurlene McDaniel (2002). The Angels Trilogy. Random House Digital, Inc. p. 560. ISBN 9780553570984. 
  • Richard Montanari's Philadelphia crime series features a homicide detective named Joshua Bontrager, who grew up Amish.
  • Jodi Picoult's Plain Truth (2000) deals with a crime concerning the death of a newborn infant on an Amish farm.
  • Ted Wojtasik's novel No Strange Fire: A Novel about the Amish Barn Fires in Big Valley (1996) was published by Herald Press.[3]

Older novels[edit]

  • Ruth Lininger Dobson's novel Straw in the Wind (1937), written while a student at the University of Michigan and receiving the school's Hopwood Award, so negatively depicted the Amish of Indiana that Joseph Yoder was motivated to correct the severe stereotypes with a more accurate book about the Amish way of life.[citation needed]
  • Helen Reimensnyder Martin's novel Sabina, a Story of the Amish (1905), similar to her novel Tillie, a Mennonite Maid (1904), so harshly depicted its subjects as to provoke cries of misrepresentation.[citation needed]
  • Anna Balmer Myers' novel Patchwork: a Story of "the Plain People" (1920), like her novel Amanda: A Daughter of the Mennonites (1921), are generally regarded as gentle correctives to the work of Helen Reimensnyder Martin.[citation needed]
  • Joseph Yoder wrote the gentler Rosanna of the Amish (1940), a story of his mother's life (and his own), and a sequel, Rosanna's Boys (1948), as well as other books presenting and recording what he regarded as a truer picture of Amish culture than that presented by Ruth Lininger Dobson.[citation needed]


"Weird Al" Yankovic's parody "Amish Paradise" (1996) and the accompanying music video were an affectionate send-up of Coolio's earlier rap song "Gangsta's Paradise", with Yankovic and former The Brady Bunch actress Florence Henderson in Amish garb, and lyrics reflecting Amish themes.



Numerous TV shows have presented episodes with Amish characters or storylines, including:


  • The NBC family drama, Aaron's Way (1988), is about an Amish family that moved to California and had to adjust to a non-Amish lifestyle.[6] 
  • In the summer of 2004, a controversial reality-television program called Amish in the City aired on UPN. Amish teenagers were exposed to non-Amish culture by living together with "English" teens and, at the time of the show, had yet to decide if they wanted to be baptized into the Amish church.
  • Discovery Networks in December 2012 began broadcasting a show, Amish Mafia. While portrayed as a reality show, the show's official website states that some scenes are "re-enacted", although such re-enacted scenes are not identified as such in the show. This has led reviewers to question the veracity of the show.[7] Persons who work closely with the Amish community have stated that they have never heard of such a "mafia" organization.[8]
  • The National Geographic Channel debuted the documentary reality series Amish: Out of Order (2012), about the lives of former Amish who have left the community.
  • BBC2 in the UK aired Trouble in Amish Paradise (2009), a one-hour documentary about Ephraim and Amanda Stoltzfus and their desire to adhere to Evangelical Christianity whilst remaining Amish in culture.[9]
    • BBC2 in the UK followed Trouble in Amish Paradise with a second programme, Leaving Amish Paradise (2011), documenting the transition of the couple and two of their friends to non Amish society after their excommunication from the Amish church.[10]
  • The UK's Channel 4 aired a series of documentaries entitled Amish: World's Squarest Teenagers (2010) wherein a group of Amish teenagers were taken to the UK in a cultural exchange to live with British teenagers during rumspringa.[11][12]
    • A follow-up series, Living with the Amish, aired in 2012, where British teenagers were taken to live for a few weeks in various Amish communities.[13][14]
  • The 2013 Cinemax original TV series Banshee is set in a fictional small town in Amish Country, Lancaster, Pennsylvania and features Amish people.[15]
  • In September 2012, TLC began airing the reality television series Breaking Amish, which follows a group of Amish and Mennonite youths as they leave their communities to experience the outside world in New York City. Not long after the show began airing, controversy arose concerning evidence that appears to indicate the cast members had actually been living outside the Amish community for some time, leaving the viewers to believe that much of the show is staged or scripted.[16]
  • In 2013 the US DIY Network broadcast the TV series Vanilla Ice Goes Amish,[17] wherein the host lives with an Amish family while working on renovation projects with an Amish construction crew. A second season is slated for 2014.[citation needed]


  • The 1955 Broadway musical show, Plain and Fancy, is an early stage-play portrayal of the Amish people. Set in Lancaster County, it tells of a couple from New York who encounter the quaint Amish lifestyle when they arrive to sell off some property. This show depicted "shunning" and "barn raising" to the American audience for the first time.
  • Quiet in the Land, a Canadian play concerning Amish struggles during World War I (1917–18).[18]
  • The Confession is a musical based on Beverly Lewis' best-selling The Heritage of Lancaster County series.


  1. ^ "Lifetime Movie Network's "Amish Grace" Breaks Records With 4.02 Million Viewers". Retrieved January 9, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Little red schoolhouse", Wikimapia .
  3. ^ Wojtasik, Ted (October 1, 1996). No Strange Fire: A Novel about the Amish Barn Fires in Big Valley. Herald Press. p. 402. ISBN 978-0836190410. 
  4. ^ "American Experience: The Amish". PBS. February 27, 2012. Retrieved October 18, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Igou, Brad. "The Amish in the Media". Amish County News (2001/2005). 
  6. ^ Eng, Joyce (March 11, 2010). "Football Hall of Famer and Actor Merlin Olsen Dies at 69". TV Guide. Retrieved September 11, 2012. 
  7. ^ "The Dirty Work for the Clan". New York Times (online ed.). US: New York Times. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "Discovery Channel's Next Reality Series Amish Mafia". Lancaster Online (online ed.). US: Lancaster Online. 14 November 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  9. ^ "Trouble in Amish Paradise". BBC TV. February 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  10. ^ Deacon, Michael (March 16, 2011). "Leaving Amish Paradise". The Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved August 4, 2012. 
  11. ^ Anon (2010). "Amish: World's Squarest Teenagers". Channel 4 TV listings. Channel 4. Retrieved August 3, 2012. 
  12. ^ Brooker, Charlie (July 24, 2010). "Charlie Brooker's Screen burn: Amish: The World's Squarest Teenagers". The Guardian (Guardian News and Media). Retrieved August 3, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Living with the Amish". TV listings. Channel 4. Retrieved August 3, 2012. 
  14. ^ Ferguson, Euan (November 27, 2011). "Rewind TV: Living With the Amish; When Bankers Were Good; The Cafe; The Young Apprentice" (review). Observer TV reviews (Guardian News and Media). Retrieved August 3, 2012. 
  15. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (August 11, 2011). "Cinemax Prepping Amish Country Series Executive Produced by Alan Ball". Deadline. Retrieved August 2, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Is Breaking Amish for real? Just two episodes in and already viewers are asking whether it's really all that authentic". Daily Mail (online ed.). UK: Associated Newspapers. 22 September 2012. Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  17. ^ "Vanilla Ice Goes Amish : Vanilla Ice : DIY Network". Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  18. ^ Chislett, Anne. "Quiet in the Land". Dramatists Play Service. Retrieved 2012-10-13.