If you are watching "Amish Mafia" on right now, please do yourself a favor and turn off the television.
I watched it once and got sick to my stomach...
Most folks' understanding of the Amish is based on a romanticized, tourism-driven surreality. In many ways, the Amish benefit from it but are equally victimized by it. There are certain aspects of Amish culture, particularly the "tribal" aspects that result in far more community interaction than reliance on the government, that I very much admire. However, those same aspects are visible in Old Order Mennonite and numerous other Plain sects culture but with far less complication by Rumschpringe, shunning, and other sectarian aspects that have resulted in a national obsession that ranges from "Amish" semi-pornographic romance novels to shows like "Amish Mafia."
I most definitely believe that the Amish community near Nickel Mines changed after the shooting in their school in 2006. I can understand the community feeling defenseless and victimized and, perhaps, seeking protection from anyone who appears to care for them. However, I do not trust any "reality" television show to serve a positive purpose for any community, and the Amish around Nickel Mines are now being victimized by commercial television.
My family was talking about all of this over the holidays, and I suggested to them that, instead of watching television to see others' realities become blurry or shattered, they would be far better served by making their own realities and the lives of those around them better through actually working to build the communities that the romanticized visions portray. Even if it is technically impossible, it is not a bad thing to strive always to make things better... hence the Urglaawe slogan of "Macht's immer besser!" ("Make it always better!") superseding the traditional "Macht's gut" ("Make it good.").
What is the purpose of shows like this? I am guessing that it is to profiteer off of the deconstruction of the romanticized notion of the Amish. Thus, instead of showing them as human beings with dreams, desires, needs, etc., they are shown either as paragons of Deitsch culture or are used to perpetuate the stereotypes of the Dumb Dutch, etc. Television shows like this are rootless and are among the forces of chaos. They discourage introspection and encourage ignorance.