Alaska News

Reality Check: Examining 'Battle on the Bay,' Brown family wardrobe

This weekend I was flipping through the channels and there was a show called "Building Alaska." It's on the DIY Network, which I had no idea was part of my cable package -- or even existed. I write a column about this unpopular topic, and I didn't know about it!? Clearly the DYI Network doesn't have the press machine of the Discovery Channel/Animal Planet.

"Building Alaska" highlights the hardships of building in the wilderness. It held my attention for about five minutes before I changed the channel in search of a rerun of another new show, "Alaska: Battle on the Bay." It takes place during the commercial fishing season in Bristol Bay. I didn't find it, but worry not -- the Discovery Channel/Animal Planet press machine got me. So in tribute to them, let's play "deconstruct the press release." My thoughts in parentheses:

Headline: Animal Planet Reels (Bad pun: drink) In Next Great Fishing Adventure Series

Silver Spring, MD -- (I'm shocked they don't have someone in Anchorage yet, since approximately 75 percent of their programming comes from Alaska) In Alaska, fishing is a full-contact sport, and on Thursday, January 8, at 10 PM ET/PT, prepare for war on the water. Animal Planet's eight-part series "Alaska: Battle on the Bay" submerges (Bad pun: drink) viewers within a high-stakes fishing drama as 1,800 captains and their crews draw the battle lines to help protect Alaska's ecosystem from the 44 million strong sockeye salmon migration and reel in a massive payday.

(Then there is a big, long paragraph trying to make fish and game management decisions and enforcement sound sexy. I'll spare you.)

With loads of potential fortune swimming just below the surface, the crews know the unpredictable and dangerous bay is the least of their worries (I feel like this should be the most of their worries). Each boat also must prepare for whatever its desperate and money-hungry competition may have in store while it keeps an eye on the legal fishing line…

This season, join five of the most dedicated captains and crews who best represent (Was there an election? Gubernatorial appointments? Who determines this?) the 1,800 vessels that angle for prime position during this BATTLE ON THE BAY."


I'll try to catch (Bad pun: drink) "Battle on the Bay" next week.

I caught up on "Alaskan Bush People," the most controversial of all Alaska reality TV shows. The first few episodes focus on the Browns trying to leave the bustling metropolis of Ketchikan, which they refer to as the "big city," for their new Bush property. I wanted to see more of them in Ketchikan than in the Bush. The best part of this show is when they are forced to interact with humans outside their family. One of them even has a girlfriend. Let's get her some screen time.

I'd like to discuss the Brown family's fashion choices. Many of the Browns wear leather or denim jackets; one of the adult children even wears an ankle-length trench coat. I think they should invest in some practical Southeast-specific outerwear. Maybe a rain jacket would be better suited for their Bush lifestyle.

Finally, I'm totally into "Ultimate Survival Alaska." I don't care if it's contrived; it's entertaining. The Military Team trying to beat Dallas Seavey at a sled dog race is hilarious/ridiculous. The Alaskans winning and then hiding from the other teams is great. And I will watch the Lower 48 team exchange insults with each other for days.

Emily Fehrenbacher lives in Anchorage, where she reviews Alaska reality TV and can be reached at (subject line: Reality Check).

Emily Fehrenbacher

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