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Film and TV

Are reality TV shows set in Alaska finally going out of style?

Cast members on MTV’s “Slednecks,” a show about young Wasilla people that ended after one season. (Screen capture from MTV.com)

Once upon a time in the not-so-distant past, you could not turn on your TV without seeing a new set of Alaskans frantically killing things in preparation for winter while being followed by cameras. However, those glory days seem to be over — it's been quite some time since a new show graced the depths of cable television. What happened to the days of "Alaskan Women Looking for Love" or searching for "Alaska Monsters"?

Is it because the market was overly saturated for too long? Maybe the state removing the film tax incentive program actually made a difference? Is there so much "peak TV" now on Netflix, HBO, Hulu, etc. that people aren't willing to sit through the insurance commercials of basic cable to see how much gold a person can find? Maybe the boring show about the railroad ruined it for everyone? Who's to say?

It seems the mainstays of Alaska reality TV (shows like "Deadliest Catch," "Alaska: The Last Frontier," "Gold Rush," "Bering Sea Gold" and "Yukon Men") are all here to stay. And the days of slapped-together shows about vodka distilleries or construction companies might be over. We'll always have "Wild West Alaska" to remember.

If nothing else, a new and final season of "Edge of Alaska" will premiere on Sunday, Oct. 8. In case you missed it, "Edge of Alaska" is a Discovery Channel program about the small number of people who call McCarthy their home. It's been controversial for the residents in the past, but they've managed to cast some delightful side characters and occasionally have a great scene where cows are transported from Anchorage to McCarthy via Subaru.

According to Discovery's press release, "The fate of McCarthy teeters on the edge in the final season." Sounds like it's going to be another round of Jeremy Keller (the comforting, bearded dad homesteader who just wants McCarthy to stay the way it is) versus Neil Darish (the older businessman who is looking to turn McCarthy into a Talkeetna-in-the-summer-esque tourist destination). While this is an interesting plot for a TV show, after several seasons, "Edge of Alaska" could use some new twists.

Scene from season three of “Edge of Alaska,” a Discovery Channel show set in Alaska. (Screen capture via discovery.com)

A new person could get stranded in town with a flat tire. Maybe the entire series could take place on the Fourth of July and the cast could interact with all the Anchorage residents who take over the town. Heck, maybe they could fly to Juneau and lobby for the film tax program to return. While I hope they shake things up, I'll still watch just to see what's up with old Tim and Mark's bromance.

In the meantime, "Bering Sea Gold" is still airing. Their ninth season will have all your favorite characters participating in all your favorite shenanigans while looking for the riches of the underwater north. It airs Friday nights.

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

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