Alaskan Bush People returns for its fifth season on Friday. Although fans are buzzing, some of us are wondering if the Discovery Channel hit series might be on the verge of peaking. Certain inexplicable changes to the series as we know it begs the question: Has Alaskan Bush People jumped the shark?
It seems a bizarre question to ask, but think about it. We’re now into Alaskan Bush People‘s fifth season. Usually after a show — even a reality TV series — has been on the air for so long, there’s a tendency for the setup to get “stale.” As the audience gets bored, ratings start to decline.
To avoid this, producers may attempt to make a few changes to keep ratings high or stable. For instance, People broke the news about the introduction a new daughter that most Alaskan Bush People fans simply did not know existed.
A brand-new daughter who is appearing on Alaskan Bush People out of the blue? Sounds like “Cousin Oliver Syndrome” to me!
What’s “Cousin Oliver Syndrome” you ask? It’s the name of a TV trope that involves the inexplicable addition of a new kid late into a series’ run, usually for ratings-related reasons. And don’t think for a minute the introduction of Twila Wilson, Billy’s daughter from a previous marriage, is not ratings related. The following is a quote from a previous story in the Inquisitr.
“Die-hard fans of the Alaskan Bush People series were already aware of Twila, so it comes as no surprise to them that she will be appearing on the show.”
First, die-hard fans of Alaskan Bush People have no reason to expect the Discovery Channel to go out of its way to add cast members a few seasons into the show. Second, that this person chose to reunite with her estranged father on-camera can’t be ignored.
Let’s compare this to the old-school reality TV series, The Osbournes. Sure you were very much familiar with “foul-mouthed” teens Jack and Kelly Osbourne. However, there was another daughter, Aimee, who actively went out of her way to have nothing to do with the show. When she had to be on camera, her face was blurred. This was a conscious decision that actively caused some estrangement within the Osbourne household.
As for the Brown family, the Alaskan Bush People stars are reportedly already estranged from Wilson. Billy himself claimed they hadn’t heard from the missing Brown sibling in close to 30 years.
Why is it necessary that this highly-personal reunion play out for cameras? It isn’t. It’s purely for ratings. There’s no reason Billy and Ami couldn’t have been reunited with their long-lost daughter off camera. However, her on-camera presence opens the door to Twila becoming a series regular. A sort of “Cousin Oliver.”
If it’s a one season thing, then you can stack her presence along other ratings-boosting drama, such as bear trouble, home improvement issues, Billy’s health concerns, and legal controversies.
But if Twila Wilson is coming on as a regular member of the reality TV show cast, it just might be a version of “Cousin Oliver Syndrome” and a warning sign that Alaskan Bush People might be on the verge of jumping the shark. To be blunt, adding a new cast member — even to a reality TV series — rarely does the ratings much good in the long-run.
We still don’t know how fans of previous Alaskan Bush People seasons will be back for this new season. With so many aspects of the Alaskan Bush People mythos exposed to be either fake or greatly exaggerated, some viewers may walk away. It could be that adding a new face to the mix, someone not caught up in previous scandals, is meant to give reality TV fans someone new to sympathize with.
Do you believe the introduction of a new daughter is a ratings ploy? Do you think cast adjustments could lead Alaskan Bush People to jump the shark? Share your thoughts below!
[Image via Discovery Channel]