Alaskan Bush People is quite the show. People love it or love to hate it. Some even hate to love the Alaska-based reality TV series.
On the surface, Alaskan Bush People might be one of the most wholesome shows on television. It does follow the adventures of a family living in the wilderness with a dog named Mr. Cupcake. Each season sees the Brown family, the stars of the show, overcome a never-ending string of challenges. Whether it’s terrible tooth pain or boat trouble, the “Wolf Pack” pulls together to see things through. I’ve even seen people compare the program to the Waltons.
Not only is Alaskan Bush People family-friendly television, but you also don’t see too many families like them in 2016. Think about it: When was the last time you saw two parents genuinely happy to have several adult children all under one roof and with no plans for any of them to ever move out?
Love or hate them, the Browns as represented on TV are truly unique. Thematically, Alaskan Bush People is harmless.
For my part, I came in with both eyes open. But then, I hadn’t heard of Alaskan Bush People or the Browns until after I first heard about their fraud scandal. That they were on a show called Alaskan Bush People but were taken to court for lying about being in Alaska was admittedly amusing. It showed in how I titled my very first article about Alaskan Bush People.
Viewers had strong feelings about the show and even more definite opinions regarding the Browns, so naturally, I became curious enough to check out their show. Before I knew it, I’d binge-watched all the seasons of Alaskan Bush People. I couldn’t help it; it was bizarrely entertaining. I was pulled in by the dramatic hunts for food (it’s the Oregon Trail fan in me), Noah’s crazy inventions, and, of course, watching the family work together to overcome heartbreaking setbacks.
The Browns come across as lovable losers who didn’t know the meaning of the word quit. Who could resist cheering for them? As brilliantly represented by a stellar editing team, they seemed like genuine people who’d always go out of their way to help others. The kind of down-home folks you’d be happy to know in real life.
And yet, the more digging I did into the Browns and their circumstances, the harder it became to see them that way.
I have to credit Alaska Dispatch-News — ADN writer Emily Fehrenbacher specifically — as a key source of information as well as skepticism. Between reporting the Browns’ criminal case and casually mocking the authenticity of Alaskan reality TV shows, Dispatch-News regularly made it clear to any non-Alaskans that Alaskan Bush People was a scripted mess.
There are also gossip sites such as Radar Online that routinely break news about Alaskan Bush People’s off-camera drama, such as Matt’s struggles with alcohol and that Billy Brown lied about being in touch with his 44-year-old daughter, Twila, over the years.
There’s also my own research, which led me to uncover carefully maintained YouTube accounts, photos of the Brown children living in everyday society, and so on. In other words, there’s nothing to indicate the Browns are the hardcore bush people with no concept of 21st-century technology. It’s clear the show highly dramatized this angle for entertainment purposes.
So yes, based on what I’ve learned and researched, I’m comfortable calling Alaskan Bush People a scripted reality TV show. It’s utterly fake and heavily edited.
But you know what? That tidbit alone is not enough to make Alaskan Bush People a terrible show. It actually had touching and genuinely funny moments in past seasons.
Besides, plenty of scripted TV shows have come down the pipe within the last 20 years. The problem for Alaskan Bush People is, as I’ve said, that it’s predictable and repetitive in nature. Even painfully manufactured moments of tension have grown stale.
“The season finale will focus on the Browns battling to keep their hauling business afloat as boat troubles threaten their way of life. Meanwhile, the family receives news that could threaten to force them out of the bush.”
That was me taking a random stab at a summary for the season finale. The bad news is that the promo for the season finale suggests I’m not too far off. The audience shouldn’t be able to guess how things will end before the season ends. Shows that get as predictable and repetitive as Alaskan Bush People tend to get canceled.
I do understand why producers were all too happy to tweak this season, but I still suspect it won’t be enough to keep Alaskan Bush People on the air beyond one more season.
So do you think Alaskan Bush People is a great show – despite being fake? Share your thoughts below!
[Image via the Discovery Channel]