Alaska News

Reality Check: 'Alaskan Bush People' returns to the fringe

"Alaskan Bush People" is back and just as confusing and downright strange as ever. Quick catch-up if you haven't been following the never-ending saga and conspiracy of the Brown family:

Discovery Channel started following the Browns as they moved from Southeast to Chitina under a murky set of circumstances involving a cabin being burned down by "the man." They were quickly run out of Chitina when, according to the program, shots were fired at the Browns and production stopped. However, what likely happened is they weren't actually living in the wilderness. They were living in the middle of a subdivision and a neighbor was annoyed and shot fireworks at a production helicopter. Yada yada yada. They moved back to Southeast, sank a boat (maybe two, I can't remember) and finally ended up near Hoonah, where stories have been surfacing that they might not be the true bush rats they claim to be.

This family consists of seven children, ages 12 to 32, who all live in one house together, despite it being the weirdest. There are so many questionable moments in Episode 1 and the "This Season On …" promo that I think I just need to break it down into a manageable list for you.

1. Ami, the family matriarch, is all over this season. In the past she's been a background character who rarely speaks, letting her husband drive the narrative. Episode 1 centered on her traveling to Juneau to get 12 infected teeth removed. Of course, this is made out to be a life-or- death situation about an infection that could spread to her brain if left untreated. This might be true and I look forward to finding out when I watch the "Alaskan Bush People: Dental Hygiene Special." As Ami gets ready to leave for Juneau, she says, "I've got my gun, my Bible, I'm ready." This is always how I personally get ready to go to the dentist. Finally, in the promo for Season 3, we see Ami interacting with a state trooper, claiming she's done nothing wrong but is "being treated like a common criminal." I can't wait to see what she actually did wrong.

2. The Browns have a house now. Where did that come from? On a television program about living in the Bush, if the family had actually constructed an entire house, they would have had six seasons' worth of material. Instead, they went from basically building a sketchy shack to having a two-story framed house in two episodes. At least in Season 1 they fabricated a story about their neighbors coming by to help them build their Chitina home. Seriously, get it together, Discovery Channel.

3. In order to cheer up Ami after her infected mouth gets fixed by evil modern medicine (her words, not mine), the five boys decide to install a wood stove while she's gone. Three subpoints here:

a. The boys decide the easiest way to figure out where to cut the hole through the ceiling is by having one of them lie on his back and shoot a hole through the ceiling. I'm no carpenter, but I assume this isn't a best practice.

b. To seal the wood stove pipe to the roof, Bear (the one who does somersaults and climbs trees for no reason) uses his hands to apply the tar.

c. When they are all standing around the new wood stove talking about how warm it is now, you can see their breath. Discovery Channel, go to bed. You're drunk.

4. I thought their clothing was impractical Southeast Alaska Bush wear last season, but this season multiple Browns are wearing fur. And not like I-just-killed-a-deer-and-am-wearing-its fur, but I-bought-this-leather-and-faux-fur-coat-at-Target fur. Can I get their address so I can send them raincoats? Please?

5. Finally, in the "This season on …" teaser, we see an older woman come to Browntown to meet the boys and promise to find them wives. Who is this mystical Hoonah matchmaker? I cannot wait to watch this train wreck, specifically because after we see this woman talking about staged endless love, it cuts to the eldest son, Matt, saying, "I'm 32 and single for a reason," followed by him rolling down a dock in tires, followed by him being roasted over a fire in a wire bin.

Discovery Channel, I take it back, you aren't drunk. You are ridiculous and I appreciate you.

Emily Fehrenbacher

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