I do have a weakness for reality television at times. Originally, I was worried about the premise of Amish in the City: it sounded like it was going to be a constant stream of jokes about the Amish and how unfamiliar they are with the world of the "English." But an "All Things Considered" interview with Daniel Laikind, the show's executive producer, piqued my curiosity.
And thus I was sucked into the two-hour première.
All in all it was pretty good. At it's heart, the program is The Real World (maybe circa second season) with a bunch of good-looking kids "picked to live in a house to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real." All the expected sources of tension are there -- ex-boyfrieds/-girlfiends, dietary restrictions, sexuality, close living quarters, etc. -- but with this something extra where the Amish on rumschpringe* and the city kids both end up discovering things about themselves and each other.
While there are still eight more episodes for things to spiral out of control, the first two episodes were surprisingly engaging.
Yes, the Amish kids are a bit naïve in some ways, but they actually come across as more honest and refreshing than naïve. In comparison, the cynicism of the city kids, for the most part, comes off as annoying and pointless.
The producers seem to have picked Amish kids who are very well suited to the experience, as well as city kids who, again, for the most part, are exceptionally narcissistic and annoying, but it could be interesting to see how it all works out.
*rumschpringe is a Pennsylvania German word that basically translates into "running about" and it describes the period of time Amish youth are given as teenagers/young adults to experience a little of the wider world before deciding whether or not to be baptized into the church. (UPN uses the spelling rumspringa and translates it as "running wild," which isn't inaccurate, but it does sort of hype things up.)
Schpringe, as a verb, means "to run" or "to skip," while rum is an adverb meaning "about" that is also used as a separable prefix, as in the case of rumschpringe.