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‘Bush People’ left, Jewel returned and other highlights of 2017 for Alaska reality TV

  • Author: Emily Fehrenbacher
    | Reality Check
  • Updated: January 4, 2018
  • Published January 4, 2018

At times it didn't seem possible, but we made it to 2018. It was a slow year for Alaska reality TV, but there was still enough to squeeze out a Top 5.

Contestants in Top Chef Episode 1501, including Laura Cole, fifth from the right. (Photo by Paul Trantow / Bravo)

5. Alaskans were everywhere on big competition shows that normal people actually watch. Even though she only made it through the first episode of Nick's season of "The Bachelor," a woman from Anchorage competed. She even showed up in a fur coat instead of scantily clad in an evening gown to prove her Alaska-ness. Chef Laura Cole of 229 Parks was on this season of "Top Chef." She didn't make it very far in the competition, however. And, finally, a woman from Edna Bay survived on the History Channel's third season of "Alone." I hope they all leveraged things to get as many Instagram ad deals as possible, or at least be guests on a few podcasts.

4. While normal Alaskans were becoming famous, a legit famous Alaskan has returned for reality TV. Jewel was frequently featured on "Alaska: The Last Frontier" last year. She and her son returned to Homer to help the family drive cattle, do household chores and participate in the Kilcher way of life.

3. In 2017, it was mostly the old mainstays of Alaska reality TV that held down the fort instead of an onslaught of new programs like in years past. Let us never forget the days (2016) when shows were started about making vodka or fixing machinery, just because those activities took place in Alaska.

However, it seems like they are pumping out more content than ever on established shows like "Deadliest Catch," "Homestead Rescue," "Alaska: The Last Frontier," "Bering Sea Gold," "Gold Rush" and "Alaskan Bush People." This year we've seen everything from long Christmas specials to hour-long interviews with Brown family members and a spinoff about the "Gold Rush" cast hiking the Klondike Trail. The Discovery Channel has really found a way to get a lot of hours out of a few ideas.

2. We got a special behind-the-scenes look at the making of reality TV when Susan Aikens (aka "Super Sue") sued the producers of "Life Below Zero." Aikens alleged that producers put her in a dangerous situation that resulted in an injury by asking her to travel on an unsafe river, not wear a helmet, leave her aging dog at home alone and other things of that nature, all in order to get a good story. If nothing else, the lawsuit gives a fascinating glimpse at the cast and producer relationship.

The Brown family’s journey away from Alaska appears complete as “Alaskan Bush People” ends this season at their new homestead in Colorado. (Screen capture via

1. Everyone's favorite strangely accented family, the "Alaskan Bush People" became the Colorado Bush People. The family was forced to leave Browntown (the largest suburb of Hoonah) to move to Los Angeles after Ami's cancer diagnosis. As she was in the process of being treated, the family took a road trip to Colorado to check out a piece of property that was only an hour away from the hospitals in Denver. According to the internet (and/or Rainy's Instagram) the family is still living in Southern California while Ami receives treatment.

And with that we'll see what 2018 has to offer.

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