After a short break, Reality Check is back. Unfortunately, there isn't much going on in the Alaska reality TV world. Basically, "Bering Sea Gold" and "Dr. Dee Alaska Vet" are the only shows airing.
But that's OK, because I believe reality TV is at its best when small things happen. It's not the big plot points, like Billy and Bam going to jail for defrauding the state of Alaska out of a half-dozen Permanent Fund dividends on "Alaskan Bush People" that makes the show worth watching. It's the conversations about whether or not the Browns should capture and raise a baby brown bear to scare other brown bears away from their property. Those things are what make these programs worth watching.
This week's moment came as none other than Zeke Tenhoff (one half of Zemily) was trying to explain finances to his partner, Emily Riedel.
Let me set the stage. Zemily, who are 50/50 partners, are trying to figure out how they can pull up more gold. They have only harvested 4.97 ounces of gold over the 15 hours they have been diving. Emily suggests they hire another diver to increase their diving hours. Zeke hates this idea because they'll have to pay another person. Zeke then proposes adding another sluice box so they can have two of their existing divers dive at the same time. They argue:
Emily: The whole philosophy, the whole premise…
Zeke (interrupting): Let's just go back to the agreement. Here's how I understand the agreement. I have an operation, right? This is the operation. (Draws a square on a chalkboard, but not a cool hipster black chalkboard that you write your internet password on. Not even a Glenn Beck chalkboard. Just an old boring green one.)
Zeke, continued: It has Gabe, it has Sam, me, it has Janay, and it has my equipment. (Zeke draws a series of y's — not x's — and circles to represent these things inside the square.) I needed a little bit more money to get to operation on the ice. (Draws a sassy dollar sign that is as big as the square containing all his employees and equipment. Dare I say, equal size.) Emily, you wanted to buy in as a 50/50 partner of the operation as it already existed. You were not buying into this so you could then change this. (Draws a line through half of the square and scribbles angrily.)
Emily then argues that because she is a 50 percent owner of the company it gives her a voice. But Zeke shuts down her protesting and they start a second sluice box. I think that Zeke should have a spinoff show on MSNBC where he explains company mergers and acquisitions in an argumentative tone. Or, at the very least, let's get this guy and a chalkboard down to Juneau to talk about Alaska's fiscal crisis.
They end up with 7.2 ounces of gold in five hours. Emily looks pissed.
"I'm super happy to have innovated," Zeke says.
The second-best part was in a recent episode when a new-old miner came back to the show. Derek McLarty was diving when the dude running the above-the-ice part of his operation got the flu and left him alone, underwater with malfunctioning oxygen, to go poop his pants and puke at the same time.
Finally, there is a new "Deadliest Catch" that takes place somewhere off the Oregon coast. And "Alaska: The Last Frontier" will be on TV again in early October.
In the higher-brow world of television there is a lot going on. It's fall, which means new shows start airing. "Atlanta" on FX is a personal favorite. On the reality tubes I'm anxiously awaiting the return of "Vanderpump Rules" by biding my time with some "Below Deck" on Bravo. See you next week, hopefully for more economic lessons from the cast of "Bering Sea Gold."
Emily Fehrenbacher lives in Anchorage, where she reviews Alaska reality TV. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ETFBacher.