The trend of reality shows exploring fringe cultures continues on National Geographic Channel with the debut of American Colony: Meet the Hutterites on Tuesday, May 29, at 10pm ET/PT. Like the Amish and Mennonites, the Hutterites are an Anabaptist sect that stemmed from the Radical Reformation in the 16th century. Over their history, the Hutterites have faced persecution and expulsion from their homelands, due in large part to their belief in absolute pacifism and refusal of military service. By the 19th century, the Hutterites had nearly vanished. But Hutterite colonies have flourished in North America, mostly in the Great Plains region. Hutterite colonies are close-knit communities in which many of the members are related, and the work and wealth is shared among them. They’re self-sufficient colonies relying primarily on communal farming, and they preserve their centuries-old traditions by foregoing many modern conveniences and technologies. But the proliferation of the Internet and mobile phones threatens Hutterite society as it lures young people away from their traditions.
This series looks at members of the 59-member King Colony, both progressive and conservative, who struggle with these challenges on a daily basis and are often at odds. In the premiere episode, the King Colony is preparing for the annual Harvest Party. Bertha, a widowed mother of three teenagers, is concerned about her daughter Claudia’s rebelliousness. Bertha fears her daughter is heading down the same path that led her husband to commit suicide. Matters get worse after Claudia does something shocking at the Harvest Party.
Future episodes involve Hutterite elders shunning members for breaking with tradition, a road trip to Canada to attend a wedding, a challenging of traditional gender work roles, and a hunting expedition to shoot a deer or elk to use as meat in a jerky competition.