Film and TV

Back in Nome, it's same old, same old on 'Bering Sea Gold'

When it's springtime in Alaska, "Bering Sea Gold" films and then airs six months later. Last Friday, the seventh season of this mining program launched on Discovery Channel, and it looks like it's going to be considerably repetitive.

For those unfamiliar with this slice of American television, it takes place just offshore of Nome and features several underwater gold miners trying to strike it rich. Each spring they set up a shanty town, send divers under the ice with suction dredges and try their best to get rich "quick." There is one legit mining operation that always makes a metric crap-ton of money (over a million dollars), and the rest are pulling themselves up by their oxygen lines living the Alaska dream. And failing.

This season, the one legit mining operator, the Pomrenke Family, has decided to let all the chuckleheads prospect a new mining claim, while they focus on their land operation and charge the wannabes 20 percent of their profits.

After several seasons of watching the same individuals sink loads of money into marginal returns of gold, there is something ironic about the show. Zeke Tenhoff (a 29-year-old sometimes known for his amazing fashion sense, sometimes known for making illogical arguments during verbal altercations) put it all into perspective when he said this: "I started mining back in 2007, I'm about 10 years in. And I'm not getting wealthy doing this yet. And one might say it's kind of asinine for me to keep thinking that it's going to." It's as though getting rich off mining might not be the primary objective for some of the cast members of "Bering Sea Gold." Who would have thought?

This season, Tenhoff continued his gamble by being partners with his love interest/frenemy/drama queen/gold miner/opera singer Emily Riedel. Thank goodness producers continue to make these two (who I will now refer to as Zemily) work together, otherwise why would anyone watch this show? As Zemily are driving their shacks (named "John CuShack" and "Earnest Shackleton") to the soon-to-be shanty town, the "fighting" Kellys come and knock them off the trail in what appeared to be an extremely dangerous move.

You always know it's the Kellys because "Bering Sea Gold" starts to sound like an Irish Pub on St. Patrick's Day. But that was all we saw of that family for the rest of the episode, which was odd.

[Related: Emily Riedel of 'Bering Sea Gold' is one of the best Alaska reality stars working. Here's why.]


Last of all, we meet our ol' buddy Vernon Adkison, who talks about his aspirations by saying, "The only thing that really stores value is gold. Gold doesn't lose its value, like land does where they can tax it to the point you don't really own it, or paper money you can wipe your butt with. But I do have faith that gold is the way of storing wealth." I think Vernon has been up late watching infomercials.

Vernon has spent more money trying to mine gold than he has made from actually mining the gold. So this season he has devised a new plan. "We're just using a suction dredge; what we're trying to do is pump up the gold, put some gold in the box." Which is the entire premise of gold mining. I'm glad that Vernon has finally caught on.

To round out the episode, the Pomrenke family buys a rusty old barge they will use in the summer season, and Zemily discuss the dangers of living on ice that "might end up in Russia."

And that's the premiere of "Bering Sea Gold" season seven. Tune in for an entire season that will likely repeat the basic plot of this episode.

Emily Fehrenbacher lives in Anchorage, where she reviews Alaska reality TV. You can reach her at or on Twitter @ETFBacher.

Emily Fehrenbacher

Emily Fehrenbacher lives in Anchorage and writes "Reality Check," a regular look at reality television set in Alaska.