Is the Amish Mafia real? Well, if you believe everything on TV, this new series from the award-winning Discovery Channel might be just for you. Amish Mafia makes a sneak peek on Discovery Channel tonight at 10:30pm ET/PT, and then moves into its regular timeslot on Wednesdays at 9pm ET/PT beginning Dec. 12.
The opening scenes of the show describe the Amish mafia as a secretive subculture that operates within its own set of rules and values. To ensure the safety of innocent Amish members, a disclaimer also runs that says “select reenactments of events must be used” and to protect participants and their family members, some identifying information and property has been changed. It’s a TV show, so dramatizations are part of it.
While the Amish church denies the existence of the mafia, the series looks to expose a small organized group of men who are said to be protecting and serving an Amish community in Lancaster County, PA, using their own laws and values. The leader of the mafia is Lebanon Levi who is described as being the “courthouse, bank and insurance company.” At first glance he resembles more of a droopy-eyed, middle-class neighbor you’d grab a beer with. His posse consists of his right-hand man Alvin, somewhat of a Gilligan to the Skipper, who speaks softly but is said to carry a big stick. According to Alvin’s bio, you can’t get to his best friend Levi without going through him. Alvin, however, has a dark side, but has Levi’s complete trust.Then there’s John, described as the newest member of the group, who is looking to make his move into the boss’ chair constantly scheming to get ahead. John’s also the brother to Levi’s love interest, Esther. Lastly, there’s Jolin, “Levi’s righteous soldier,” who is a Mennonite. Levi values Jolin for this, as he can do things that the Amish guys in the crew can’t.
The need for “mafia-like” protection from such a closely guarded and historically safe community stems from the 2006 school shootings in Lancaster County where five young Amish girls were killed and five more seriously injured by a non-Amish milk truck driver. One of the cast members of the show, Esther, explains that it was the result of this horrific act that left a “big wound in the Amish community” and caused them to seek protection. Esther is described in press materials as knowing Levi since they were children. She lives just two miles from where the shootings took place. “She uses his interest in her to get what she wants. She sees herself as the power behind the man.”
Levi’s team engages in a life outside of Amish and non-Amish community codes as he quietly exerts his influence and control. Levi’s brand of order is precise as he seeks to keep outside forces from infiltrating the Amish community, while keeping the principles and morality within the community in check.
The series will provide eyewitness accounts of the incidents, misdeeds and wrongdoings within the Amish community, as well as, a rare look at Levi and his team members who work together to maintain harmony.
Pictured from left to right: John, Alvin, Levi, Jolin. Photo Credit: Discovery Channel