Still checking to see if Alaskan Bush People and similar programs are on the way to getting cancelled? If so, you might not want to hold your breath. There’s a reason that the bush people series and others like it might be here to stay, and it has nothing to do with a lack of outrage over perceived legal scandals.
If you’re a native of any part of Alaska these days — or someone who’s been curious enough to do the research — you’ll note that there are so many Alaskan reality TV shows, they’re practically filming on top of each other. Tom Kizzia wrote a rather humorous op-ed about the situation for the LA Times about a year ago.
“Here in Alaska, TV crews have been everywhere the last few years, clutching scripts for ‘unscripted’ shows and handing out confidentiality agreements, asking us to play along. A friend in my hometown who runs a cute bakery by the beach turned down six different producers in the last year.”
“Not everyone is so selective. Several dozen of these “reality” programs have made it to cable — most of them populated by nutty eccentrics and paid for with state subsidies.”
Did you catch that last part about being paid for “with state subsidies?” If you didn’t know, the reason networks like The Discovery Channel and National Geographic are flocking the area to pump out reality TV show after reality TV show is that Alaska set up a tax credit program. It knocked off a huge chunk of the cost for filming Alaskan various reality TV series. Alaska-Dispatch News reports that the tax credit program was dreamed up by the state as a way “to lure Hollywood producers and big-budget productions to employ hundreds of Alaskans for a sustainable new industry.”
Except, that’s not what happened at all.
ADN said that crafty non-Alaskan producers typically don’t hire Alaskans and spend much money in the state at all. Instead of being a boom for the cash-strapped Alaska, this plan has been a bust. A really expensive bust. Millions of dollars are being paid out by Alaska every year for these scripted. That represents millions of dollars taken out of the pockets of tax payers with very little return. In fact, Aljazeera America reported that Alaskans only take home a paltry 15 percent of the income generated from these type of shows. Sure, tourism to the area has improved big time, but that doesn’t change the fact that most of the money being made is taken out of a state that really can’t afford to lose it.
If you thought the Brown family ripping off Alaska’s oil revenue was bad, you haven’t seen anything!
“But by far the biggest slice of the $85 million the state has paid out has gone to reality TV. Between 2009 and 2013, the state approved 65 show applications classified as nonfiction television, according to the state.”
It’s understandable if Alaskan citizens hate these these show, documentaries, and movies. Especially as the cast and crew laughably pass off a series about “isolated survivalists” who are “roughing it in the remote Alaskan wilderness” as authentic. As a bemused Kizzia put it, “why must the narrator pretend they are locked in some desperate struggle to survive, without ever mentioning the three supermarkets in town, to say nothing of that nice locavore bakery by the beach?”
Thanks to Alaska extending the incentive program for the next ten or so years — with up to $200 million in state spending — it’s just too profitable for the producers behind programming like Alaskan Bush People to become a thing of the past. And thanks to the failure of Alaskan legislatures to cut funding to the reality tv industry during that extensition…well, this is going to be a headache that Alaskans and people who hate this particular genre are going to have to put up with for some time.
Wondering if the Alaskan Bush People is cancelled is almost a non-issue at this point. It’s would be better to ask what can be done to stop the industry from exploiting Alaskan citizens. The best thing that could be done is simply not to watch these shows. But with this topic so popular and so many people entertained by characters like the Brown family (fake or not), this seems to be a tall order.
What do you think can be done to discourage the popularity of programs like Alaskan Bush People? Is it even worth bothering at this point? Share your thoughts below!
[Image via screen grab from Discovery Channel Official YouTube]