Q: In your research for your character on “Pure,” you got to speak to some Mennonites. How was that?
A: Admittedly when we first started, I personally had a hard time trying to locate Mennonites because there were just not many where I live. And of course being a private, sort of insular culture, I didn’t think I could just go on the internet and Google Mennonites that would be interested in showing me around.
It turns out that there are more Mennonites on the internet than I’d previously thought, and I’ve learned so much about varying types of Mennonites, all the way to the old order. You know, the horse-and-buggy Mennonite up to very modern Mennonites just like you and me with computers and phones, and it’s just the belief system that stays true. We were really lucky enough to have a Mennonite adviser on our show … and she was absolutely essential to us when it came to speaking the language, learning about the culture. Things down to the food, the way it’s cooked, the way it’s prepared to the way the house looks. It was absolutely a wonderful asset for us.
Q: What surprised you?
A: There were a lot of things. The writer, Michael Amo, comes from a Mennonite family. It’s not so much what surprised me about what I learned, it was more about how appealing that life sort of seemed to me, that simpler, off-the-grid life, just having to worry about your community and your family and not all the horrors and atrocities of the world.
I found that really fascinating, things like not having power or running water in your house, but in the milking barn where the cows are, it looks like it was built by NASA because it has to meet industry standards and certain codes in order for you to sell your milk. It has to meet all these standards. So you walk into a milking barn and as I said, it looks like it was built by NASA but then you enter your home, you’ve just got a wood fire and candlelight and that’s it.
George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.