Do the Alaskan Bush People get paid? We asked! Read our interview with the Brown family.
In a new special episode of Alaskan Bush People, titled “The Wild Life,” premiering Sunday, June 15, at 10pm ET/PT on Discovery Channel, the Brown family looks back at their adventures presented in the first four episodes. The family answers questions presented by viewers, discusses some of the show’s more controversial moments, and reveals some more details about them and their lifestyle. The special also includes deleted scenes and previously unseen footage.
Season 2 Recaps: Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | Episode 5 | Episode 6 | Episode 7 | Episode 8 | Wild Times | Episode 9 | Episode 10 | Episode 11 | Episode 12 | Episode 13 | Episode 14 | SHARK WEEK! | Episode 15 | Episode 16 | Lost Footage | The Wild Year
Let us call this the episode in which the Browns tell you that everything you think is fake is not fake.
“The Wild Life” doesn’t waste time getting to the good stuff. It starts by addressing a lot of the questions viewers have had, particularly those posted on the show’s Facebook page. Is this family real? What’s with those accents? What’s with the cars? What’s with the glasses? Are these really all your kids? Isn’t it cruel to punch fish?
Whether or not you’re satisfied with the answers depends on your definition of “bush.” (What?) In the first episode, I was really quite surprised the Browns had an SUV. Can you really be that “bush” if you have an SUV? Then we see throughout the series that the Browns really aren’t all that self-sufficient, that they have to go running into town for stuff all the time, and they live off the land only to a certain degree. It’s not like they’re drilling and refining the gasoline that runs their SUV, chainsaws and generators. They’re still dependent on civilization, which is probably disappointing to a lot of viewers.
The biggest point I took away from this segment was how much show’s producers have really backed off the “government burned their cabin down” story. And now we find out that not even Billy is 100 percent certain the government torched their home that was built on public land. “My cabin burned and I wasn’t home,” Billy says. “That’s all I can say.” What’s always confused me is the timing of these events — how soon after the cabin burned did this film crew show up to document the family’s move north? What happened to the Browns during that time between the fire and the purchasing of the land in the Copper River Valley? Was this cabin even their primary residence? And was there even a fire at all, or was it just devised to create a premise for the Browns’ dramatic race against time and the elements to construct their new home before winter? You’re free to doubt all of these things, because the show has not adequately explained them.
As for Bear punching fish, I’ve no problem with it. Yeah, it looks and sounds funny, and that’s the point of it being on TV. But it’s really just a low-tech method of doing what most anglers do anywhere.
Viewers have asked about how the Browns have some pop-culture knowledge and have seen movies. Again, it’s probably not all that “bush” to be watching Darby O’Gill and the Little People on DVD (though it would explain why some of them sound a little like Sean Connery). They’re able to have electricity because, as Birdie says, “Anybody who lives in the bush has to have a generator.” Except for that one episode where they didn’t have a generator and had to barter with a dozen people to get one from a junkyard.
(I should mention how weird it is to see Birdie and Rainy interviewed in this special. They’ve barely said anything this entire series, but you put them together and stick a camera on them and they giggle and chatter like 12-year-old girls at a mall in 1986. I am freaked out by this.)
Which brings us to a deleted scene involving junkman Gale, he of the “violent personality.” Gale is even wackier than he was first portrayed, and I’m wondering why his best material ended up on the cutting-room floor. “I can vaguely recall having been a half of a star, a planet, a blade of grass, a pile of manure and a briar that grew out of that,” Gale says, perhaps trying to explain reincarnation and his past lives. Gale also believes in aliens. “I would go to another planet,” he says. “I haven’t done so well on this one, so …”
In another deleted scene, Billy hangs out with Cowboy Dean, who pulled out a few of his own teeth last night. Cowboy Dean speaks in a language only intelligible to Gale’s alien friends.
We learn a little more about the mating habits of the Brown boys, which is all about making young women feel trapped and uncomfortable. Gabe charms the ladies with his “bush charisma” and ability to make people laugh sometimes, “not just with tickling.” Matt’s courtship ritual features juggling in front of women who just want to get their coffee and get the hell out of there. Bear just goes for it. “I like to dig in the dirt,” he tells a young lady held captive working behind the counter at some shop. “I like to start fires, too.” The flirtation then goes to the next level in a romantic interlude about the fat content of venison.
And then we get to the whole business of people shooting at the Browns and forcing them to abandon the cabin that they spent this whole series building. Billy talks about two other incidents, one in which someone busted their car windows and another in which some crazy guy came out to yell stuff at the film crew. There’s practically nothing else explained, and if you thought this incident was B.S., you’re now probably even more convinced that it’s B.S.
And you know what? Who cares? The Browns were happy to be forced off their land, because they didn’t even want to be there to begin with. So there! You just lost nine customers, Grizzly Pizza!
We learn a little more about Bear’s hunting techniques. “I like to stalk through the woods and hunt the deer,” he says. Bear doesn’t seem to have any firearms, though. My wife, who is far more perceptive than I, asks, “How does he kill the deer? Does he just run up and punch them?”
The Brown boys all wear watches, but none of them actually work. In fact, the Browns really don’t give a crap about specific dates and times. They were two and a half weeks late for Christmas. BABY JESUS WAS PISSED! They don’t even know their exact birthdays, only the seasons in which they occur. “When it gets close to summer, [unintelligible, unintelligible, start fires, climb trees, punch fish, unintelligible] … that’s my birthday I smell,” Bear says.
The Browns are then asked about some really stupid stuff that we in the Lower 48 wish we’d never learned about to begin with: selfies, manscaping, Justin Beaver [sic]. Bam delivers the most metal response to the manscaping question: “Is that when you build walls out of dead bodies? Like Spartans?”
Finally we get to the Browns’ sunken vessel incident that closed out the first four episodes of Alaskan Bush People. If you think this was staged to add drama to a reality TV show, then clearly you are a cynical, heartless bastard. The Browns lost everything in that boat, including the lovely poem Billy wrote for Ami and a treasured stuffed animal, both essential to the family’s survival. Like I said in the recap of that episode, whether or not you buy this depends on how much you’ve bought in to all the other stuff you’ve already seen. Some of you have bought into it so much that you’re willing to write a check to the family. Some of you think the only thing that holds water here is their boat.
It’s pretty safe to assume that Alaskan Bush People will be back on TV in some form, hence this “We Are Too Real!” special episode. My guess is you’re going to see more of a focus on stuff like the Browns encountering wacky Alaskans like Gale, Cowboy Dean, Animal Dave and Insane Duane (R.I.P). You’re also going to get more of the Browns behaving weirdly with cityfolk in awkward punching-fish-out-of water scenarios that just occur naturally without being staged for a TV show. It’s going to be less of a show about a family surviving off the grid in an unforgiving land and more about backwoods folks doing and saying funny stuff to amuse us. If you think this show is absurd now, just wait.
Regardless, the interest in the Browns went way beyond what I expected when I first saw and recapped the show. It’s rare to find a show that so passionately polarizes an audience, but Alaskan Bush People has done it. It’s been fun doing these recaps, and I’ll continue to do them when the show returns. I’ve also enjoyed reading your comments and contributions to them, so thanks for joining in.
Now I’m going to call Verizon to see if they’ll accept 20 pounds of trout in exchange for a wireless data plan.