TLC’s newest docuseries, “Breaking the Faith,” is very striking. The show follows a group of young people as they leave the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), the polygamist sect led by the now-jailed Warren Jeffs.
For anyone who loved “Big Love,” it’s mandatory viewing. This stuff is far scarier than Roman Grant and his Juniper Creek compound ever were — and it’s real. Four former FLDS men who have been kicked out of the church plot to rescue several young women who are questioning what they’ve been taught their whole lives. To even begin to list what the girls haven’t been exposed to is heartbreaking — everything from sugar to swimming is off-limits. At one point, one girl says she wants to leave because “I want to be happy. That’s something I’ve never experienced.”
The boys have to hatch an escape plan straight out of an action movie, and are constantly in fear of the “God Squad” — the community’s draconian security — finding out what they’re planning.
“Breaking the Faith” is beautifully shot, dramatically scored, and unfortunately sometimes it’s so staged it’s like you’re watching a weird, alterna-version of “The Hills.” With a subject matter so real, why set up so many scenes? Why not let the testimonials speak for themselves? By now most people have accepted that staging scenes is a necessity in reality TV — especially here, when there are such high stakes — but it is incredibly distracting.
The women might be less animated than your typical reality TV character, but their stories are so strong that it shouldn’t matter. This subject matter stands on its own, and its a shame that in this show, it doesn’t always get to shine.
Still: no matter how set-up some of the show is, the truly real moments are worth watching for.
Did you watch “Breaking the Faith”? What did you think?