Film and TV

Reality Check: 'Alaskan Bush People' build a bear trap in defense of Browntown

In last week's episode of "Alaskan Bush People," a bear (the animal, not the adult human Brown) got into their home while they were away. There is a video of a bear crawling through a window of Browntown's main architectural structure, shot with "Jurassic Park"-esque night vision, making it look even more terrifying. The episode then focuses on each Brown looking out for bear intruders and figuring out how to safeguard Browntown. Let's just take a look at this scene from their family meeting:

Billy (father): We need to do something to deter him, I don't know. Something to just totally freak him out.

Bear (human son): I was thinking we could bring a foghorn from the boat or something.

Billy: Well, someone has to be out here pushing the button.

Bam (second-oldest son): Flares work. We shoot a flare off and really freak him out.

Snowbird (oldest daughter): What we need to do is find a baby bear and raise it, and then we have our own bear that's on our side.

Unknown Brown in the background: It's true.


Noah (youngest son): There was an idea I came up with for a smoker that we could use.

Noah (to camera in an interview): I have an idea for a bear alarm that if I can find the correct parts it should work perfectly. And of course I have the creative spirit that makes it possible for me to take trash and turn it into something ingenious.

Billy: If you think you can come up with something …

Noah: I'll see what I can find.

Billy: For now, everyone just really tighten up.

Let's break this down by problem, solution and tactics. We have a clear problem: Bear in Browntown destroying evvvverything. Solution: Keep the bear away from Browntown, which is not the fortress we all thought it was. Yup. Now, the tactics are where things get interesting.

- Tactic 1: Foghorn. This is simple. You see a bear, and you blow the foghorn. They already have a foghorn, so the opportunity cost is low. But Billy doesn't take this as a solution.

- Tactic 2: Flares. Again, simple. Shoot off a flare so the bear is afraid and stays away. But this doesn't seem bold or complicated enough for the "Alaskan Bush People."

- Tactic 3: Find a baby bear and raise it to fight other bears. So far, this is the winning idea. The Browns are really into the long con on this one. I'd guess that the only reason the Browns aren't currently experiencing the growing pains of a 6-month-old bear is that producers nixed this one for liability and scheduling reasons.

- Tactic 4: Go to a junkyard, find an old police siren, spend an entire episode soldering, to create a bear trip wire to install at Browntown. This one wins.

Noah builds an obnoxious bear siren that they place on the front steps of their home. Somehow producers actually get a video of a bear setting off the alarm while trying to go up their stairs, and we hear Billy yell "hey guys!" as the alarm goes off. Since we never see a shot of Billy running outside as the alarm goes off, I can only assume that the sequence of events did not happen in this neat timeline.

The rest of the episode had a storyline about human Bear courting a normal girl from Arizona, who was like, "I'm working in Alaska for the summer, why not just be on TV and go see this weird show be filmed. At least I'll have a story." And the boys were hauling some stuff.

The season finale of "Alaskan Bush People" airs Wednesday on Discovery Channel.

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.