Alaska News

Reality Check: 'Bush people' of Alaska; Wasilla youths on MTV

I have a confession: I have watched more MTV (music television) over the course of my lifetime than any person should, could or would. I'm slightly afraid to admit it, so please be nice to me in the comments. So as Alaska's leading MTV scholar, last week when TMZ (America's most trusted news source) announced MTV is filming a reality show starring the youths of Wasilla, I was overcome with emotion.

According to MTV, "Slednecks" will be like "Jersey Shore" and "Laguna Beach," focusing on a group of friends who live in Wasilla. MTV seems to be trying to distance the show from "Buckwild," which was canceled after one of the stars died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

I've heard a lot of sighs and observed many eye-rolls at the idea that MTV is producing a show that will likely show a handful of 21- to 25-year-olds drinking cheap beer with the labels blocked due to copyright, doing stupid stuff in the snow, fighting and hooking up with each other. But I would argue that shows like "Jersey Shore" have brought us some truly great moments in television. At the core of it, you can't deny that these programs have and will continue to change our culture.

Let me quickly defend my MTV love. MTV is always at the forefront of defining the reality TV genre. I love that you can turn on the TV, turn your brain off and watch people learn how to deal with each other in contrived situations. I love that there are MTV personalities that we've watched grow from being so hammered they get arrested to becoming decent moms (Snooki from "Jersey Shore"). I love that MTV is teaching young people about Internet literacy and online dating through the show "Catfish." And I feel like I know some "Real World" cast members better than some of my Facebook friends, because I've been watching them compete in "The Challenge" for more than 10 years.

Alaska has finally made it onto MTV. Guys, we're going to state!

In other news, Discovery Channel has a new series following the Brown family, who live in rural Alaska. The show is called "Alaskan Bush People" and will premiere on Tuesday, May 6. Let's dive into Discovery Channel's press release quickly to get a sense of what this show will be like.

First line: "(New York, NY) - Deep in the Alaskan Wilderness lives a newly discovered family who was born and raised wild." A quick Google search indicates the Browns aren't actually a newly discovered family. The patriarch, Billy Brown, has written over 60 children's stories and several full-length novels.


Other highlights: "They've developed their own accent and dialect, refer to themselves as a 'wolf pack' and at night, all nine sleep together in a one-room cabin." Interesting: you have my attention, Discovery Channel. The press release then defaults to the typical Alaska reality TV show plot line which I have and will continue to summarize as: winter is really cold, there are dangerous animals and not much daylight and living off the land is hard.

Then the magic happens, and we get a quote from each family member. Snowbird Brown, 19, said, "Girl time is different in the bush. We don't just do our nails and play with dolls. We like to hunt, and we like to fish." By far the best quote goes to 11-year-old Rainy: "My name is Merry Christmas Catherine Raindrop Brown, and people call me Rainy." That is the best name I've ever heard. I think we can all expect big things from Merry Christmas Catherine Raindrop Brown. Maybe one day she will appear on season 10 of "Slednecks."

• Emily Fehrenbacher lives in Anchorage, where she reviews Alaska reality TV.