Wednesday, 20 April 2022

A Simpler Life?

I watched all 6 of these programmes and I’ve waited a while to decide what I really thought about this series. If you didn’t see it, here’s the background;
"24 people [couples, families, singles] opt to spend the summer on a farm in Devon. All of them are seeking for a ‘better’ life than they currently have. They will aim to live following the Amish principles of a simple life, without modern technology, with emphasis on putting the community first rather than self. A real Amish family, the Millers from Ohio [parents in their 50s, plus three children in their 20s] will be there to help and advise. The makers say it is "a scientific experiment to determine if such a lifestyle can bring happiness" It is a reality show. It purports to show how it really is, warts and all, and will include participants talking to camera about their feelings."  I had reservations from the start
  • Amish Principles – the first principle for the Amish is following God’s law [helpful BBC link here] The Amish way is dependent on the faith-lifestyle. You cannot cherry-pick the activities you want and expect it to work properly if you leave Him out.
  • Scientific Experiment - no, science was not involved. It was entertainment, and proved nothing. They were not truly following the Amish way [see above]
  • Reality show – stilted conversations, and clumsy editing displayed the fact that things were said and done for the camera. It wasn't 'real'. And all their crops were planted and growing well, before they arrived. [I did covet their kale, mine is pathetic]
Were these people who signed up so really so naïve? Frankie and Keely, who left with their children by the start of programme 2, because they didn’t realise that ‘no electricity’ meant they'd have to wash their clothes by hand. Darren and Hazel, who struggled with the Amish ‘no alcohol’ rule, and fought to spend some of the community budget on booze. Victoria [oh don’t get me started…] who “had her hands full doing laundry for herself and her husband, didn't do early mornings, and wouldn’t share in the communal laundry, and or work in the fields.” And Penny, who kept telling everyone her children came first. [except when she decided to leave, but they wanted to stay on]
But dear little Kevin [who’d been very ill – and really thrived when given outdoor farming tasks and good homegrown, home-cooked food] won everybody’s hearts. Fran the project manager worked so hard to keep relationships sweet, and deserved a good outcome inho. Everyone over 35 [except Harry] left the show, taking partners and children with them. I thought Harry [40] was the most sensible, and honest. By the end only 9 of the original 24 were left [the Millers left for the final 3 weeks, letting the ‘community’ fend for itself]
The American academic who set it up concluded that “giving up technology and material possessions” was really peripheral to achieving happiness – what you need is “a sense of belonging to a community that cares about you, and having a sense of purpose.” I could have told him that years ago. 
For a better understanding of the Amish community, go and watch Harrison Ford in Witness!
 
 

27 comments:

  1. This is the trouble with these Scientific experiments- cherrypicking, not embracing the full tenets of a life.
    I remember handwashing my clothes for a year in Bali- it was hard work so I am glad for my washing machine!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Doing without things does make us grateful for what we have when we get them back!

      Delete
  2. I echo your comments Ang, though I gave up and didnt watch the last episode. I wonder what people really expected to get/give from the whole thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the producers hoped to get plenty of profit from selling the show to the networks - which is a bit cynical of me I admit

      Delete
  3. You outline several reasons why I don't have the appetite for this sort of reality TV. I suspect that a simpler material life will be unavoidable in a future high energy cost world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right - and you are also someone I admire for the way you manage your smallholding, respecting the land, the livestock, and the people around you.

      Delete
  4. I watched the first two episodes of this and gave up on it. I think most of them were extremely naive. They could have done with watching a few episodes of Ruth Goodman's Victorian Farm to get an idea of what it would be like.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a really good comment- Ruth G is a but whacky sometimes, but she certainly showed how difficult the 'simple ways without technology' were back in earlier times.

      Delete
  5. I didn't realize it was a reality programme until I started watching it. I got as far as them being introduced to the Amish hosts and their accommodation then switched off. Didn't have any patience with the different personalities.

    We didn't have a 'fridge, freezer, telephone, washing machine or Tv when we were first married (1969), but what we did have was a coolish pantry built into the house; shops around the corner; paper, pen and stamps; a sink/bath with water; and books, socialising etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Modern homes are frequently too warm to have a pantry/larder. I did like the fact that we saw Harry writing a Proper Letter to his parents using a Proper Pen!

      Delete
  6. I watched this programme too, I have had a life long interest in the Amish and admire their principles. This expperiment was bound to fail and I was not surprised when it did. Amish children are brought up in the faith, and although they do have a year 'outside' before they commit, many of them choose to stay true to the lifestyle. It is in no way a picnic, it takes life long committment to live by Amish values. I admire them, but there is no way I could comform to the very strict rules they live by. I do know of one lady who did join the Amish with the help of the family who chose to take her in and give her support when she found the going hard. The Amish are, to me, to be congratulated for sustaining their way of life. There are many 'branches' Not all conform to the disciplines and are more lenilent, eg using cars telephones and also electricity. Their way of life does not appeal to everyone, those I have met in my travels in the US are happily committed to their way of life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for this comment SBBE [I do miss your blog btw] As you say, very few people actually 'become' Amish, 99.9% are born into Amish families. Also, thank you for the info about the 'relaxation' of discipline in some of the groups.

      Delete
  7. Reality shows are the rage now and I see them advertised constantly. I don't really see the attraction. I tell my husband, "I have enough drama in my own life. Why do I want to watch someone else's drama?" lol We have many Amish living nearby and it's a tough life for many. I like my modern day conveniences and while I could go without, I certainly enjoy having them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is all about balance, isn't it? And I imagine, that like me, you want to interact with the rest of the world, and reach them with the Gospel - so modern technology is often a blessing, and a useful tool.

      Delete
  8. You don't have to go to such extremes in order to live a simpler life. Some modern conveniences enrich our lives, others dominate it or detract from happiness. It's getting the right balance that is the key.
    There's no fun in perpetual drudgery!

    ReplyDelete
  9. The Amish actually have gas powered washing machines here...!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds weird - why is gas-power acceptable technology when electricity isn't? And I wonder where they stand on solar energy, wind turbines and hydro-electrics?

      Delete
  10. I couldn't work out where the scientific experiment came into it either and as for the people - where did they find them - all that fuss about alcohol and doing the washing. I never did get round to watching the final programme in the series.

    ReplyDelete
  11. How interesting, and I agree with you that the Amish people's dependence on their faith in God is fundamental to their lifestyle. It gives value to the hard work that is part of their daily living. I guess the show is basically just reality entertainment, but is thought-provoking as well, which is good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was thought provoking. It has certainly provided lots of useful comments here. Right now I am grateful for so many blog-friends, and I realise that an Amish woman could never have that blessing!

      Delete
  12. I don't think that series has aired here, yet. There have been similar programs here, too, with various people trying to live a pioneer life, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  13. It sounds like it's 'make people uncomfortable for the entertainment of others' which I'm never happy with. I think you have to embrace the ethos behind it before you try the lifestyle.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I enjoyed the programme once the annoying woman that wanted to spend over £17 on a chicken because 'her daughter was fed up of living on plain pasta' left. There were just too many clashes of personality which drove the whole show into recent 'Big Brother' territory.

    It showed that hard work can lead to a good life but also highlighted how few modern people are willing to put in that hard work. We are so reliant on technology and gadgets these days it would seem. To be horrified at having to wash clothes by hand had me in stitches, I managed this way for years when my boys were little. Rows of white terry nappies blowing on the line were testament to a good mornings work for me.

    Kevin for me was the highlight and star of the show, he developed wonderfully and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he went over to visit the Millers in Ohio and perhaps even stayed in the community.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Poor Penny - do you think she was really as awful as that? or did they goad her into making her apparently self-centred comments for the sake of the programme? I washed my nappies using an ancient twin tub, which took quite a lot of effort. Kevin was a lovely young man - I think most viewers wished him well. I am glad he was so much healthier after his time in Devon.

      Delete
    2. I enjoyed the programme too.
      My eldest child was 3 when I got my first washing machine (and my first vacuum cleaner)

      Delete

Always glad to hear from you - thanks for stopping by!
I am blocking anonymous comments now, due to excessive spam!