When I first wrote about the Alaskan Bush People series and the Brown family, I confess I knew nothing about it. I’m not exactly a fan of “reality” television, and there was no reason for me to gravitate towards this Discovery Channel darling.
Instead, my reaction was precisely what was written in the title of the first article I wrote about the Browns — sheer disbelief that they weren’t even in Alaska. In fact, the state hadn’t considered them proper Alaskans since 2009. This tidbit led the family to get into serious trouble when it was learned they were taking oil revenue illegally.
Despite my ignorance about the Alaskan Bush People cast, I couldn’t help noticing there were more than a few people gleeful about the unfortunate turn of events and what it meant for the Brown family. Comment sections are littered with claims that the Browns are little more than a collection of sociopathic scam artists. They’ve allegedly burned bridges all over the country, lied about key events in their life and didn’t even build their own Alaskan bush residence. Some have even speculated that the horrific seizures suffered by family patriarch Billy Brown are little more than a made up storyline to drum up sympathy.
— Men’s Journal (@MensJournal) January 13, 2016
The problem with the Alaskan Bush People situation — outside of what’s documented in court — is that much of the umbrage against this family seems to be based on little more than anecdotes and rumor. I’ve yet to read a comment written by someone who had direct contact with the family. No one that knew them personally.
I do believe that a good portion of the dislike grew out of actual residents of the Alaskan Bush taking offense to the presence of the Discovery Channel. Allegedly, the first season saw the family flee to southern Alaska after shots were fired at the family and crew by angry strangers. Perhaps documenting this event furthered the dislike as it certainly didn’t help paint “authentic” bush folk in the best light.
With rumors flying, what exactly are the facts? ABC News attempted to share some details about the Browns, of course they didn’t exactly go further than the back story on the Alaskan Bush People stars already provided by the Discovery Channel.
— CNN Entertainment (@CNNent) January 12, 2016
A Google search of Alaskan Bush People together with the word “fake” brings up a list of sources that for the most part aren’t reputable. As in so non-reputable, I’m banned from using them for this article. Not a good sign for any unbiased person looking for proof the Browns have duped them.
The closest thing to a consistent and trustworthy source about the events concerning the Brown family is the Alaskan Dispatch-News. Not only did ADN provide thorough coverage of the recent Alaskan Bush People scandal, but they also mentioned a little known incident in 2012: The Browns were cited for falsifying hunting and fishing licenses.
“The Fish and Game citations issued in late July say Solomon, Joshua, Noah, Matthew, Billy and Gabriel Brown bought the licenses shortly after moving to the state following time living in Texas and Colorado.”
“‘(Billy) Brown moved to Alaska on Aug. 24, 2012. Prior to his move, Brown maintained a residence in Colorado and Texas,’ one citation reads. The date of the offense listed on the court document is Oct. 11 of that year.”
“The five other citations read similarly. The citations say the licenses in question were purchased at Kenny Lake Mercantile, a business near Glennallen that offers services like camping spots and a laundromat. All of the licenses were purchased in October 2012.”
And here we have one of the major issues with the Browns: That by all accounts, they have no actual roots in Alaska. At least, none that manifested prior to a deal with the Discovery Channel. However, it’s important to remember that based on their current legal troubles, the family apparently did live in Alaska for a period of time before the show.
Having done the research — and yes, that includes watching the show — I’m no longer bothered by the title of the series. I understand that being Alaskan bush people was the ultimate goal of the Brown family. One that (as of the conclusion of Season 3) may not come to fruition after all.
I’ve also decided it’s probably best to ignore any and every objection to the Browns enthusiastically spread through comment sections without a hint of fact attached to them. Unless the claims come from people who dealt directly with the Browns or were victimized by them, it’s just gossip. Ironically, such claims end up being as fabricated as the reality TV series it’s criticizing.
— Ryan Berenz (@ChannelGuideRAB) January 16, 2016
If I’m to have a bone to pick with Alaskan Bush People and the Discovery Channel, it’s that once again, a family has been put on the air for the sake of profit without the network doing much in the way of proper research. There’s been numerous scandals within the past year alone involving reality TV stars. Some networks may feel that scandal is a good thing because it generates buzz and that turns into ratings.
However, I question the direction of a TV genre that seems to be more concerned with putting liars and criminals on the air and calling their representation of themselves and their environment real. The least we can do is not replicate this behavior by haphazardly posting incomplete “facts” about the Browns taken from comment boards rather than well researched and reputable sources.
For the record, if anyone actually knew the Browns and can properly document exactly why this family is so terrible (current legal troubles aside), I’m all ears.
[Image via screengrab from Discovery Channel Official YouTube]