People who have read my blog for awhile know that I love bad TV. Love it. To the extent that when I see a bad show on Netflix or Hulu, I will call people up or post on their Facebook saying “WE MUST WATCH THIS!” And then look even more awkward than normal.
But the secret I don’t talk about that often, except with the people I watch bad TV with, is that there’s an art to making bad TV good. For instance, in Christmas I started at least twelve terrible Christmas/holiday movies, and only completed three of them. The other ones just weren’t badly good enough to be enjoyable. It turns out there is quite the science to making something that is as amazingly terrible as, say, Sharknado.
In this vein, I want to share my newest obsession: Breaking Amish. Breaking Amish is a TLC show — the same network that brought you My Big, Fat Gypsy Wedding, so you know it must be quality entertainment — about five young Amish adults (technically, four Amish and a Mennonite, which is slightly more progressive) who decide they want to experience the real world by moving to New York for various reasons.
At this point when I was explaining the show to my boyfriend, he said, “so it’s about their Rumspringa?” And I say, “What’s that?” He responded, “Well, the Amish are often encouraged to go experience American culture in their teenage years.” I looked at him blankly.
No, it’s not about their Rumspringa, Joseph! That’s not dramatic enough! It’s just them being rebellious and angsty because — well, just because! Anyways, it’s not about their Rumspringa. End of story! They’re just… They just decide to all go to New York at the same time! When there happen to be a film crew there! Duh. Stop being silly!
The first episode of Breaking Amish explores the five characters and why they decide to leave their community. I didn’t actually see the first episode, but you really don’t need to because most of these people will explain their motivations over, and over, and over every episode. The characters are as follows:
Rebecca: Rebecca is a young, insecure girl who hates pretty much everyone and wanted to see New York because her father was English (what they call non-Amish people). Or her mom was. I don’t know. She’s pretty boring, but she makes up for any hobbies or interesting quirks by being extremely judgemental and easily offended. Also, she has dentures.
Kate: Kate is a very pretty girl who seems sort of fun and completely insane. She likes to drink a lot and also likes to break into tears. She especially loves to do both of these things simultaneously. Her goal for leaving is to be a model, even though she seems to despise English people — though she had to leave the Amish community because they think that trying to be beautiful is bad and prideful, to the extent they have super creepy faceless dolls.
Abe: Abe is boring. I don’t know why he left the Amish community, but I’m assuming it was to stalk Rebecca, because, despite being awkward and quiet, he is also kind of a pervert. We’re talking if he lived in Japan he’d be buying panties out of a vending machine.
Sabrina: Sabrina is Puerto Rican. She left to find out more of her culture, which she does by working at a restaurant in Astoria, an area in Queens mostly known for having a lot of Greek people, so that makes sense. She is the Mennonite, so the journey is a little less daunting to her. Does she have a personality? Well, she’s funnier and kinder than the rest — which is not saying much. I suppose the best way to describe her is she is the most human of all of them.
Jeremiah: Jeremiah is the other male, and he is also a pervert. He likes boobs, and I’m sure he’d like monster trucks.
They all have plot arcs that develop throughout the season, too. Sabrina hires a PI to track her parents, which is full of lots of juicy tidbits that conveniently pop up every week or two; luckily, she only has drama at her job when she doesn’t have drama concerning her parents. Rebecca and Abe start dating each other; they are perfect for each other because their most defining characteristic is their mutual contempt for everyone besides themselves. Jeremiah quickly turns into The Situation from Jersey Shore. Kate does something with modeling, but mostly she cries a lot because she needs mood stabilizers.
As you can probably guess, this is all terribly, terribly convenient. Too convenient. So convenient that if it wasn’t scripted I’d say God has a plan, and his plan is to make people’s lives into hilariously bad television shows. But with so many reality shows being overtly scripted — I had a friend who knew someone on the Real Housewives of Some Place who said they made them redo scenes liking flipping over a table — the fact that Breaking Amish can embrace the fact it’s all being thought up by someone being paid in spare change and Oreos at the TLC headquarters actually makes it better than all the terrible scripted “reality” shows that have come before it. When Abe’s mom comes in the second episode to ask him back, we don’t roll our eyes; we cheer, because that same plot very well could’ve happened in last week’s Grey’s Anatomy.
As it stands, Breaking Amish has perfected the scripted-reality show formula because it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is. There are no boring plots that demonstrate these are real humans because — admit it — at the time of this filming they are not; they are Amish dolls (with faces, thankfully) who are being paraded around for our entertainment. As long as we remember that, I am all too happy to eat a
gallon spoonful of ice cream in front of the boob tube.
Thanks to the wonderful Jules at Go Jules Go, I became aware of something wonderful, the Pi Day Pie Challenge. The short is this: Pi Day is March 14th (3.14). A pi pie is a pie made in honor of Pi Day, and it is extra delicious because it is the tastiness of pie with the awesomeness of math. It’s practically algebraic!
Prior to this I had only made about four pies in my life, and only the last — a pumpkin pie I made for a dinner with friends that had fresh, garden-grown pumpkins — was a success, so I immediately was wary going into this. However, I had something on my side: Pushing Daisies, and a pie discussed in that show, a “tart apple pie with gruyère baked into the crust.” Gruyère, for those who don’t know, is a wonderful cheese. Pushing Daisies is — well, let me explain.
Pushing Daisies was a show that aired a few years back with a short first season, that was cancelled in its second season. And it was magnificent. I will not deny that the second season wasn’t nearly as good as the first, but that’s partly because the first seasons was practically perfect. It was the story of a pie maker and his childhood sweetheart, whom he could never touch because it would kill her (again), as they assisted a private detective solve murders, often aided by the pie maker’s single employee who secretly loved him. Sound weird? It sort of was.
Pushing Daisies had everything; romance, comedy, drama, action, and mystery, and instead of being overloaded by any of these elements it came together to form a cohesive and unexpectedly wonderful creation (like a cheese, apple pie!). It somehow managed to be better at any of those aspects than 90% of the television that focused on merely one or two of them. More than anything, it had heart and it had magic. If there was a reason the second season failed it was because it tried to force what seemed to come so easily to the first. The first season of Pushing Daisies is probably my favorite season of any show ever because of how amazingly well crafted and thoughtful it was.
In the show, the sweetheart has two aunts who are recluses that love cheese, and she can’t see them so she tries to help them by giving them pie laced with homeopathic mood enhancers and, more importantly for this, cheese baked into the crust. I used this crust recipe but augmented the filling so it was a bit more substantial, plus I only had winesap apples, which are actually not tart. The end result was this: the filling was fine, but the crust is delicious. It’s so good. Even the dough was so delicious that I couldn’t stop raving about it, and the smells that wafted from my oven as it cooked were intoxicating.
You know how when you’re in grade school the most common retort to something like, “I love this pie!” is, “If you love it so much why don’t you marry it!”? Well, I would marry this pie crust. I would. It’s basically like the flakiest, moistest, most perfect cheese puff pastry I’ve ever had.
This pie is an ode to pi and a requiem for Pushing Daisies. It’s the Pushing Daisies Pi Pie. It’s simply heavenly. And because it’s so delicious, it will, like the show, probably not be around for long, but my life will be better for having experienced it.
I know this may be surprising, but I have a confession today: I’m a pansy. A big pansy. No, I’m not talking about my sexuality (besides, posts on sexuality are just so blasé!), I’m talking about the fact that I am afraid of everything.
The first movie I ever remember watching was Gremlins when I was about three. I remember it was Gremlins because it caused me so much mental trauma that I, to this day, cannot eat after midnight or touch water. Needless to say, thus began my phase of fleeing in terror to my parent’s bed in the middle of the night on a regular basis when I was worried monsters were going to eat me. That phase lasted for almost a decade.
Gremlins clearly ruined me. Continue reading