Is Alaskan Bush People fake? That’s the question on many a fan’s mind after Billy Brown’s family was hit by recent scandals. They were successfully sentenced in court because the so-called Alaskan bush people do not even live in Alaska all of the time, yet they still collected tens of thousands of dollars with Alaska’s oil revenue sharing. But even as Alaskan Bush People Season 5 seems to be on shaky ground, the family claims they really are Alaskan despite not residing in the state all the time.
The Anchorage Dispatch News reports that Billy and Joshua Brown were both sentenced to 180 days in jail with 150 days suspended based upon falsifying their Alaska Permanent Fund applications. The court claimed the family stole “$7,956 from the people of Alaska” because the oil profits sharing requires full-time residents.
“This is a theft from every Alaskan,” said Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg. “It harms everybody in the state.”
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After the sentencing, Billy Brown released this statement.
“Alaska’s dividend program has specific requirements for the length of time in the state, and the reasons for being out of Alaska. Because of the way we live our lives and the way we often unconventionally travel, I didn’t keep good track of our movements. I accept full responsibility for filing for benefits without confirming that we met the requirements… We are committed to living in Alaska for the long term and we respect the state’s rules. I thought it best to settle to put this behind us.”
It turns out that the reason people are calling Alaskan Bush People fake is because the Brown family spends much of their time residing in Seattle, Washington. Even when in Alaska, they allegedly do not spend most of their time actually living in the bush, which is the entire premise of the reality TV show.
For example, some Alaskans went on to the Alaskan Bush People Facebook page to claim the reality TV series is a sham.
“They are portraying themselves as something that they are not. They do not live in the bush – they only go there to film scenes.”
“They have been living in Hoonah with the Discovery crew.”
“Locals are building their cabin.”
Billy Brown denies Alaskan Bush People is fake
In December, Billy Brown responded to those who claim Alaskan Bush People is fake. He believes the naysayers are haters who do not know the full story behind their living conditions.
“What can you say to people like that?” Brown told Radar Online. “We call them ‘bobs in the basement.’ That’s just what we call the people who sit behind the computers and don’t have a life. I actually feel sorry for those people when they don’t have anything else to do.”
Brown notes that if critics researched the birth certificates of his family, then they would “see we’re as Alaskan as you get” since some of the children were born in Alaska. Matt Brown agrees with his father about the critics, claiming that Brown Town and the bush will always be his real home.
“There’s always somebody,” he said. “No matter what town, community, wherever you go, there is always one or two people. I love the bush and it will always be my home.”
Unfortunately, Matt’s words would hold more weight if it were not for the testimony of the police officer who pulled him over for driving drunk several years ago.
“The driver identified himself as Matthew Brown with an Alaskan Driver’s license,” wrote the Alaskan police officer in the official report, according to Starcasm. “I asked Brown why he had sped towards Home Depot. Brown said he had only been in Juneau three weeks and did not know his way around. He said he was looking for the harbor.”
Not knowing your way around Alaska’s state capital may seem odd for a native Alaskan, although not knowing a major city’s layout does fit the story of living in Alaska’s bush country. But it still makes you wonder why Matt didn’t know his way around at all, since older reports indicate the “the crew and family have been primarily staying in Hoonah at the Icy Straits Lodge” for filming the TV show, yet “Juneau is like a 20-minute plane ride away from the town of Hoonah.”
In addition, before the Alaskan Bush People TV show even began filming, a 2008 report by the Capital City Weekly claims the Brown family was returning to Alaska “from a book signing and speaking engagement tour in the lower 48, to once again venture into the bush to re-create the journey described in the book. Accompanied by a professional camera crew, they will be filming this 57 day journey for a TV documentary to be aired nationally and internationally in early 2009.” This candid description would seem to give more weight to the argument that Alaskan Bush People is fake even if it is legitimately recreating events of the past.
Alaskan Bush People Season 5 changed by Billy and Ami Brown’s health
Near the end of 2015, the Brown family was already openly speaking about not living in Alaska before filming started on Alaskan Bush People Season 5. Ami Brown revealed that she has cervical radiculitus, a condition of the neck. Living the bush lifestyle was stated to be very hard on her, although the children are largely able to take up the slack.
Ami even admitted at the time they were considering moving out of Alaska.
“To be honest, everything is really up in the air right now. We just don’t know. We’re doing a lot of praying right now and hoping that we can continue our lifestyle.”
Billy Brown’s health makes the plans for Alaskan Bush People Season 5 even more complicated. During the court case, the Brown family’s lawyer, James McGowan, noted that Billy suffers from problems with his heart and liver. Several years ago, Billy suffered a very bad seizure that put him in a coma, but now the Brown family’s leader is having multiple seizures a week. In order to be treated, Billy needs more medical care than what’s available in Alaska, so they travel and stay within Seattle, Washington.
“They’ve actually changed what the show is all about because he can’t stay in the Bush anymore because he needs to be near medical attention,” McGowan said. “So the Brown adventure is moving to an urban setting because he needs to be around doctors. So it’s the real deal, judge.”
There are rumors that Discovery Channel may have Alaskan Bush People canceled, but a Discovery spokesperson told Radar Online that “the series will be returning.” Despite the accusations of fakery, the question is whether fans will still watch Billy Brown’s family living the urban lifestyle both on screen and in fact.
[Image via Discovery Channel]