July 1, 2008

If you’re happy and you’re Amish, clap your hands

Primetime: The Outsiders

Episode: “Teens caught between freedom and faith”

ABC, Tuesdays, 10 p.m., aired June 24. An ABC News production by Jay Schadler.

Synopsis: For a year, ABC News had unprecedented access into the lives of a group of Amish adolescents in central Ohio during the Amish rite of passage known as rumspringa.


BY SARA HAVENS & MAT HERRON


Mat: Setting aside that “Rumspringa” sounds like a Captain Morgan’s product, “The Outsiders” reminds me why I’m a lapsed Catholic. Amish, as a belief system, is too strict. Kids have to learn to adapt in social situations, and it doesn’t appear they can.

The fact that Lena says she’ll “lose her family” if she leaves the Amish doesn’t speak well for her parents, and the elders ABC interviewed even spoke about driving a Thunderbird. You can be spiritual and still have fun.

Sara: OK, let me just get this out in the open — I’m afraid of the Amish. Spiders, snakes, drag queens I can handle. But if I see a buggy on the side of the road with tall, skinny men in funny hats, it freaks me out. We’re talking panic attacks. Maybe it’s because I grew up around them in Ohio, or maybe it stems from that creepy whistling dude from “Poltergeist II.” 

Mat: These Amish parents could do a better job of at least informing kids of what’s out there. Harley’s midnight rescue mission makes it clear that these kids are unreasonably stifled. Otherwise, why would Danny feel like he needed to jump out of a second-story window?

Sara: So what would you do, Mat? Leave behind your family and peace and tranquility for canned beer and baseball games? It seems like when the teens “escaped” their conservative Amish life, they just set up a similar shop a few miles down the road in the form of a bachelor pad. How about you get out of Ohio. Go south to the big city with a 50-foot bat, like I did. 

Mat: Sayonara. By train, plane, auto or unicycle. The world is simply too large, too wonderful and too diverse.

Sara: I must admit that Nelson’s tricked-out buggy was amazing. He had sub-woofers and an iPod … I’m sure the horse loves the AC/DC as it trots to the store. 

Mat: I was surprised Nelson decided to stay Amish, but marriage is a powerful motivator. Note that he said “if” he finds a woman, so he left open other possibilities. Given how much I dropped in gas this week, a horse-drawn buggy wouldn’t be all that bad.

Sara: Good point. I wonder if you can get a DUI on horseback. Anyway, poor Danny … he’ll end up in the tight, white button-up before too long. Either that or a prison jumpsuit. I’m guessing he didn’t drop the soap during his short stint in jail for vandalizing a buggy. The Amish aren’t that naïve, are they? 

Here’s to hoping Lena makes it out alive. Go to the light, Carolanne, go to the light! 


Celebrate rumspringa with Mat and Sara at leo@leoweekly.com or at cableboxing.blogspot.com