Meet the Hutterites: Was bringing King Colony to the masses a mistake?

Meet the Hutterites is supposed to be a glimpse into the world of the Hutterites, but not everyone seems to appreciate the attempt to make the views of this religion more public.

Meet the Hutterites came to the National Geographic Channel promising an insider’s view to the colony’s way of life, which seemed like an interesting chance for viewers to learn more about the religion and “meet” some of the members of the faith. But, not everyone is seeing things eye-to-eye regarding the “reality” presented in the early episodes.

Some Huliq readers, claiming to be Hutterites themselves, commented on why King Colony may have agreed to do the show:

  • Anonymous: “I am a Hutterite living on a colony in Manitoba...The reason they are doing this? It could be more or less because they want to get the message and perspective out of who and what Hutterites really are. No; don’t color us all with the same brush, but personally, for me, I enjoy showing and telling the outside world who and what I am. There is nothing freakish about our trends or rituals; everything we have and do is sensible, even if outsiders would not necessarily agree with it. I sometimes feel like outsiders get the wrong impression about us, maybe because of a bad influence one or more of my fellow members might have somewhere...But I still like to do my part in showing who we really are.”
  • Anonymous: “Are they doing it for the sake of becoming Hollywood Television stars? Yes, I have an issue with that; exploiting my heritage for fame and fortune, even by a member of my own kind, would in my opinion by doing something for the wrong reason. Having said that; it has been done before. There are a few documentary productions that have been made where outsiders are invited to come into the community for a week or two. As far as I'm concerned, I think it answers a few questions, and clears a few opinions outsiders have about us.”

However, following the airing of another episode, just a few days later, one of the anonymous commenters posted the following:

“I take back my words: I was on the impression that these folks might be doing it for a better reason than they obviously are...The show is an embarrassment to Hutterites and the Hutterite lifestyle. Shame on King Colony and National Geographics. Total disgrace.”

And, other readers, also calling themselves Hutterites, were angered by the show, as well:

  • Herb: “These people are a disaster!!! I call them HINO's, Hutterites In Name Only!! Shame, shame, double shame!!! Making a mockery of themselves and the lives they are supposed to be living!! They have no class, no character, pitiful!!! As for Natgeotv, they are classless, characterless clowns who are purposefully and knowingly perpetrating a mockery and a lie to further there sick and perverse agenda. They did limited research on their subject because they are not interested in the truth. As a true Hutterite it angers me!! God have mercy on them.”
  • Anonymous: I am a Hutterite living on a colony in Manitoba...What a disgrace, a shameful disgrace. This show is entertainment, but that is it. These folks have absolutely no resemblance to Hutterites other than having a similar dress-code. Morals, ethics, lifestyle...theyre gone. Just gone. No wonder they're not accepted by one of the 3 Hutterian Churches. These aren't Hutterites; simply entertainment. When is the next show coming out? I can't wait.”

Does King Colony Regret Meet the Hutterites?

Following some of the not-so-glowing comments, this anonymous message appeared:

“This community temporarily lost sight of who they are and allowed themselves to be swayed by a secular organization who were obviously on their own agenda, with seemingly no thought that an entire people are hurt by this. King Ranch leadership now deeply regrets their actions, and know that the money they got was not worth what they're experiencing now. I'm praying some good will come of this, but I can't imagine what it might be.”

Although this anonymous commenter spoke with authority about King Colony, it is not confirmed that, indeed, this individual was speaking for the colony or those involved with the show. However, it does raise the question, did the Hutterites of King Colony understand what they were opening themselves—and other Hutterites—up to when they signed on to do this National Geographic reality television show?

One reader may have summed up the situation perfectly:

“Wrong title, it should be ‘Exploit the Hutterites.’”

Will viewers agree? And will they keep coming back to Meet the Hutterites?

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Ex-Hutterite gives personal testimony about colony life

Meet the Hutterites airs on Tuesdays on the National Geographic Channel at 10 p.m E/P.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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Comments

Submitted by christine from ... (not verified) on
I respect the beliefs of the Hutterites in king colony,i wish more people were as open to their lifestyle.I would welcome the thought of having a hutterite colony in my backyard.to those that refer this colony as the "hutterite" shame on you! You make that sound as if you are calling an animal.when we all xlose our eyes & see nothing but darkness, it makes us all the same. If I could convert to becoming a member of the king colony I would

Submitted by Heather (not verified) on
National Geographic is not exploiting anyone. This is not a staged comedy/tragedy show. This is a colony. Just normal people with their own set of beliefs with the same innate struggles we all have. I think Americans, including myself, had this "pure, gentle, loving, type of people, that practice Pacifism" image in our minds of the Hutterites. This is NOT the case on all colonies. One thing a very close Hutterite friend told me was this, "the Sheppard leads the flock". In Hutterite world...this means, "the preacher leads the whole"....thus not all leaders are born leaders...or can handle control as well. I think we should all just watch the series, take it as it is, not judge them for their ways...and just let them be. I also think that Hutterites do need to accept the reality that the colony is NOT this pure Heaven as they want the world to see it as....we are all human....humans do get tempted...do have relationship issues...fall in love...etc..

Submitted by christine from ... (not verified) on
I couldnt agree with you more,let them be,im not here to judge them,im simply saying that when you open your life to the public,unfortunatley you instantly get judged,it's sad that in todays world there is so much ignorance,we are not perfect,no one is,we all have faults.i dont understand that if people have such nasty hateful comments then why watch?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
thanks for commenting like this, it takes an open minded person to speak as clearly as you have, and i am a hutterite.... :)

Submitted by Heather (not verified) on
You are welcome. I have some amazing Hutterite friends that have helped me understand.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I agree with your accurate assessment. I am sure I have more, not less respect for the Hutterites after watching Meet the Hutterites.

Submitted by khiori (not verified) on
My husband and I have been watching the show, and are always interested in learning about different cultures. We are finding it fascinating. We are not laughing at the Hutterites. I have to say I'm glad I'm not a Hutterite, the life style wouldn't suit me. My first impression is they play a valuable role in our farming community (I researched a bit online). Second, is that their limited interaction with the outside world really didn't prepare them for what to expect from this decision to be filmed. Honestly, I don't think too many people are actually watching this. It is not a highly rated cable show. Everyone is gaga over the Hatfields and McCoys right now. Asking around my work and NO ONE else is watching Meet the Hutterites. For the Hutterites, this too shall pass.

Submitted by christine from ... (not verified) on
People should choose their words more wisely,you say that you are glad you are not a Hutterite,and please notice,that is spelled with a capital "H".then you say you find the show fascinating, but yet as well you mention in your opinion that not many people watch it but yet when you are at work everyone's asking if they have seen the show?sounds popular to me.the hutterites in my opinion are important in farming yes,BUT,dont flatter yourself,they arent slaves.keep watching! I love the support you are giving,by the way,you'r ignorance of words chosen,im sure that their colony is as well happy you are not a Htterite,they are prod of who they are

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I think you misread the comment you referenced. It doesn't say everyone at work is talking about the show. Read again. It says, everyone was talking about the Hatfields and McCoys show. Also, you sound angry. Are you angry? Why?

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