Fans of Alaskan Bush People have been eagerly awaiting news about whether or not ABP will return to Discovery Channel. They worry about this largely because they have come to care about Billy Brown, his wife Ami, and his children.
In the last year or so, the Browns have experienced some difficult times, and fans want to know how they will play out. The life of the Alaskan Bush People show is fascinating to watch. I’m not talking just about what we see on our television screens, but rather about rumors and news that emerges about Alaskan Bush People and the Browns. Their health, legal issues, relationships, and substance abuse struggles – fans want to know it all. Even when news breaks about something that doesn’t reflect well on them, fans remain and keep coming back and rooting for ABP‘s continuation. Why? What is it about the Browns? And what about charges that it’s fake? It’s reality television. Why don’t the charges of it being fake push people away?
Many people who watch Alaskan Bush People are aware that what they are watching is not a full picture of the life of Billy Brown and his family. It’s a snapshot. Like all reality TV shows, we actually see a very small portion of their lives. It’s an hour-long episode once a week. A lot of their lives isn’t in what we see. The issue people have with Alaskan Bush People is that what is chosen to go on the screen is chosen because it portrays a family who is struggling to get by, living in the wilderness of Alaska. But off-camera reports indicate this is not the truth. Reports of the Browns living in a hotel, taking trips to Hawaii, spending large amounts of time in Seattle for medical reasons or so Billy can promote his book – these all run contrary to what is depicted on Alaskan Bush People.
And the Browns have had their share of problems, problems the Alaskan Bush People show has spent very little time on. Among these problems was the Brown’s legal issue with the state of Alaska involving fraudulently receiving oil dividends and a good year or two of rumors of Matt’s alcohol problem before it was even mentioned on Alaskan Bush People. We also know that Billy Brown married Ami when he was 26, and she was 15.
So why don’t people care about these things? What keeps them coming back to Alaskan Bush People? They care about them. They understand that the show includes a very small part of their lives, it has to. The intent of the show is to portray their work to create Browntown, which is a real part of their lives. People enjoy watching that. And every family has their problems. Many people have substance abuse in their families, and it’s not something most people put out there for the whole world to see. It’s a deeply personal issue, and it’s dealt with privately. The oil dividend issue is widely seen as indefensible, but how many of us have either ourselves or somewhere in our families had something seen as indefensible happen? Now the marriage of a 26-year-old to a 15-year-old, that’s pretty creepy, even if Billy and Ami both say he wanted to get her out of an abusive household with an alcoholic father. But they also aren’t the only family with creepy stuff somewhere along the way.
Maybe the draw of Alaskan Bush People is that they are real people with real problems. And it is entertaining to watch them build up Browntown and see the unique personalities of each child and parent interact and grow. Viewers care about Matt’s alcohol problem because they or someone they know has had the same problem and they want to support his recovery. They can relate to ongoing health issues like Billy and Ami Brown experience and they want to share their journey to do what they can for their health. They understand Ami’s reluctance to see her own family again given that she grew up in an abusive, alcoholic household.
One thing that is difficult to get past, however, is the description of Alaskan Bush People on Discovery’s web site. Here’s what it says, in part.
“Deep in the Alaskan wilderness lives a newly discovered family who was born and raised wild. Billy Brown, his wife Ami and their seven grown children – 5 boys and 2 girls – are so far removed from civilization that they often go six to nine months of the year without seeing an outsider. They’ve developed their own accent and dialect, refer to themselves as a ‘wolf pack,’ and at night, all nine sleep together in a one-room cabin. Simply put, they are unlike any other family in America..
“Recently, according to the Browns, the cabin where they lived for years was seized and burned to the ground for being in the wrong location on public land. They were devastated, but instead of giving up and moving back to society, they decided to go deeper into the wilderness to continue their way of life.”
There have been many reports that show that they do not go six to nine months without seeing an outsider, and they don’t live deep in the wilderness. They live in a hotel. So if there is real accusation of faking the show that should be made, maybe it’s better directed at this description of the Alaskan Bush People show. Billy Brown and the rest of the ABP clan come across as good people with good intentions, and fans care about them, but we know that this description is not accurate.
[Featured Image by Discovery]