Rumspringa is an Amish term meaning "running around." It's an open-ended, unsupervised rite of passage in which kids who've grown up in those secluded, tradition-bound religious communities get to sample ordinary secular life. Amish in the City takes five such young people and, Real World style, sets them up in a modern L.A. house with stereotypical "outsiders," including a freelance fashion stylist and a gay club promoter who loses his temper and slaps someone with a sock. Apparently Rumspringa also means "gimmick" or "programming stunt."
But the two-hour premiere was unexpectedly charming—very sweet corn—even after Amish girls Miriam and Ruth threw off their somber dresses and turned up on the deck looking like the Hilton sisters. When the household makes an excursion to the beach, Ruth cries in gratitude to have seen the ocean after a life of 20 years. And in a weird, touching moment, Mose, 24, who speaks with the awkwardly accented English of the traditional Amish, wades out too far in the current and panics, convinced he'll drown. If you're looking for a metaphor to sum up the temptations of modern life, there it be, son.