Rating the Alaska reality shows: The best and the worst

February 14, 2011 

Want to know if these Alaska TV shows are any good? Ask some Alaskans.

We recently asked readers on adn.com to grade each show on a scale of one (awful) to five (skookum!) and explain what they love or hate about each series.

"Deadliest Catch" and "Flying Wild Alaska" received the highest marks. After a strong start in the voting, "Sarah Palin's Alaska" tanked, with 44 percent of participants giving it the lowest rating possible.

Respondents were most familiar with "Deadliest Catch," with only 3 percent saying they'd never seen the show, while many readers hadn't watched "Alaska Wing Men" or "The Toughest Race on Earth: Iditarod."

Of the 2,520 surveys completed, 77 percent of participants said they live in Alaska. We did our best to keep everyone honest, but keep in mind the survey is unscientific and just for fun.

And now, a sampling of your comments:

Alaska State Troopers

Rating: 3.5 stars

"It portrays too many of Alaska's ills (violence, drinking, sexual assault) to a national audience and that makes me uncomfortable."

"Maybe we'll get more funding for (rural-based) troopers after this show?"

"Basically "COPS" Alaska-style."

"I love this show and never miss it, although as a Valley resident I hate the way they always say "and in the crime-ridden Mat-Su Valley". This is a good place to raise a family, quit being so dramatic NatGeo!"

"Definitely like the wildlife troopers show the best, how many times can we stand to watch drunks get arrested?!"

Flying Wild Alaska

Rating: 4 stars

"I'm really enjoying this show. I have a fear of flying and I like being able to see what my state has to offer through shows like this."

"Now this is life in bush Alaska! Very interesting. Love the Twetos."

"Hmmm. When I worked for Hageland's in St. Marys I never remember the dramatic music playing all the time. And I don't think Jim's daughters really worked there much till the show came out.

"LOVE IT! It illustrates the reality of aspects of rural life."

"Looks like a big Era commercial"

"I'm glad they have this show, glad they touch some points such as suicides, maybe we'll get more funding for suicide prevention, etc."

Gold Rush Alaska

Rating: 3 stars

"We are goldminers and the show makes us laugh because they are so inept."

"I love the stuff about the gold mining but the characters are for the most part obnoxious numbnuts. I like the old man."

"This is just plain insulting to all the real hard-working, smart, legal miners out there."

"Druther watch corn harvesters run combines for 20 hours."

"These guys couldn't find gold in a jewelry store."

"I like it but they are idiots."

Sarah Palin's Alaska

Rating: 2.5 stars

"Certainly not 'my' Alaska."

"This is the worst show I have ever seen on TLC. I am offended that Alaska was used for a political forum via a dysfunctional family."

"It's the best show in the world, I cant get enough of it. Alaskan's are lucky to have her."

"'Rich Person's Alaska,' no one can afford to do some of the things she does."

"As Sarah would say its flippin' awesome!"

"The Palin kids should get a spin-off."

Ice Road Truckers

Rating: 3 stars

"Its sensationalized but its cool to see places I've been on TV."

"This one is contrived and scripted. The film crew goes out to find the thinnest ice in the lake, and says 'drive here.'"

"Go Lisa GO!!!"

"To much fake stuff, I work on the slope and know these guys, its all made up for TV."

"Just wait until a road from Fairbanks to Nome is built."

"I do that everyday on the Glenn and I don't get a TV show"

"Love it. I have worked with the crew for years. Top notch. And, well, my dad is in it."

Deadliest Catch

Rating: 4 stars

"Love the realness of it and how it truly captures what these men go through to make a living."

"(I'm a) 23-year crabber. Can't watch those Film Actors Guild crabbers ham it up."

"Though most of the crew and cast are from Seattle and other points. I think they represent the rough, tough Alaskan well."

"In truth its the safest fishery now, and it has too much drama, its not as real now."

"Sure do miss Phil"

Alaska Wing Men

Rating: 3.5 stars

"It is good to see Alaska as it is."

"It was okay, did not see all episodes, but it can do well on NBC (hint), just don't overdo like 'Deadliest Catch.' "

"Kinda boring."

"FAA violation."

"The show is mildly interesting but doesn't have a hook."

"It covers bush pilots in ALL regions of Alaska."

The Toughest Race on Earth: Iditarod

Rating: 3.5 stars

"I used to live at Rainy Pass & build the trail ... not realistic enough."

"Need more wider spectrum of mushers, i.e. local Natives?"

"A must-see."

"Excellent coverage of Alaska's great race with stories from the people and communities on the trail commemorates it's success. I love the ghost stories, I know there is more ..."

"Not a bad show, wish they would show more mushers though."

"Interesting ... but only once."

Tougher in Alaska

Rating: 3 stars

""It wasn't bad. The host could be annoying but I would just tune him out."

"I'm glad they showed some Y-K delta communities."

"Not bad. Kind of corny, but interesting none the less."

"Some hyperbole. Know some of the people involved in some episodes. I know them (and the situations) well enough to ignore some of the narrative on the show."

"Great idea, bad spokesperson ... Stop yelling at the camera."

"Best. (Geo) Beach you can believe. This one is the only real thing."

"We were BRAC'd out of Alaska and are now stuck in Arizona. We miss Alaska everyday and every one of these shows reminds us of home! Keep 'em coming!"

Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment

Rating: 3 stars

"First season was alright, but the attraction of watching dolts shoved into crafted scenarios has lost its luster."

"I love to watch noobs."

"Great show but too many quitters."

"This one was the least 'flashiest' -- and thus the most 'real.'"

"I like this one. It shows real survival."

"Survival 5 miles outside of Talkeetna isn't very realistic. Drop them in the Brooks Range with a compass and a match and I might watch."

-- Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News

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