Despite (or maybe because of) the advance controversy, viewers went buggy for the debut of ”Amish in the City.” Wednesday’s premiere of the 10-part reality series drew 5.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen, the best Wednesday showing for UPN in nearly three years, and the network finished the evening second only to Fox among viewers in the coveted 18-to-49 age bracket. (Imagine the numbers the show could have drawn if Amish folk had TVs!)
It must have helped that, after months of advance negative buzz that speculated that the show would make fun of the provincial teens, critics finally got to preview the show and found it surprisingly respectful. Even Harrisburg, Pa., UPN outlet WLYH, which had declined to air the show out of fear of offending local residents, reconsidered on Thursday. ”We were all in agreement that it was tastefully done,” station general manager Matt Uhl told Variety. ”I thought the Amish came off well … I have no problem with it.” WLYH will air the show from now on, starting with Friday’s encore of the debut episode.