Do the Alaskan Bush People get paid? We asked! Read our interview with the Brown family.
In a special “Lost Footage” episode of Discovery Channel’s Alaskan Bush People (July 31), previously unseen footage from Season 2 is shown. Also, the Brown family and film crew members discuss the challenges of documenting the Browns’ lives.
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
First, let me do some ‘splainin’ on why this recap is so dadgum late! I was in Los Angeles for the TV Critics Association Summer Press Tour last week. It’s a twice-yearly event in which TV networks tell us how AWESOME and EXXXTREME they are, then they keep giving us food and drink until we start to believe it. Discovery Channel threw a poolside party in celebration of its 30th anniversary. Among all the shows it was touting, there was nary a mention of Alaskan Bush People. I think Discovery likes keeping this show on the down low. Most of the mainstream TV critics don’t pay it no nevermind. If they’ve seen it, they’ve dismissed it as fake and bad and moved on to something else. Idiots such as me, however … At the Discovery party, I had a very brief audience with the Discovery Channel president who earlier this year trumpeted a move away from fakery toward authenticity in Discovery’s unscripted programming. Here’s my account of the meeting:
“Without going into specifics and TV executive spin, I briefly met Discovery Channel president Rich Ross and asked him if Alaskan Bush People will be back. He said it would be. I asked him something vague like, “Even though they may be having legal troubles in the near future?” He said he couldn’t speak to that. (It’s entirely possible he truly has no idea what I’m talking about. A TV exec shouldn’t have to keep tabs on that stuff.) I said fair enough. A loud party was not the time or place to corner him with Journalism.
Bottom line: We will have more ABP.”
But before we can talk about ABP Season 3, we still need to gather together the frayed ends of Season 2: The Season That Won’t Die. So Discovery gives us this “Lost Footage” episode:
It's irritating me they keep calling it "lost footage," like it was unburied in a CAVE somewhere. #alaskanbushpeople
— Miramia (@miramia621) August 1, 2015
Our dear narrator tells us that the camera crew shot “thousands of hours of footage, but only a small fraction of it has been seen … until now.” So now we’re going to get a large fraction of thousands of hours of footage?
This is essentially a compilation of ABP outtakes, stuff that was even more pointless than the stuff that actually made it to air. Imagine that, people. Something even more pointless than the stuff that actually made it to air.
The twist here is that the film crew gets some screen time talking about how real everything is and how hard it is to chase this crazy bush family around on their bush and seafaring adventures as though every scene, location and shot were not carefully planned and set up ahead of time.
Like, it’s really hard to catch Bear on camera, because he’s always running around all over the place! “As soon as his microphone is off, his shirt is too, and he’s running 100 miles an hour through the bush,” says a crew member (I will spare them from being named here). Amazing how Bear always runs toward the camera. Crazy! He plays by his own rules, y’all!
Bear is also unjustifiably vain. “He’s always checking himself out making sure he’s pretty for the ladies,” says another crew member. He’s constantly combing his beard and flowing red locks, and looking at his reflection in shiny objects. Why? According to Bear: “Fixing my hair definitely does not go against being EXXXTREME because the EXXXTREME rules are rules that I actually made up and having EXXXTREMEly good hair is part of being EXXXTREME.” Bear plays by nobody’s rules, y’all! NOT EVEN HIS OWN!
We move on to the class clown of Browntown, Matt, who goes on a bear hunt with a long wooden “spear” and drags a poor camerawoman along for the journey. Matt finds bear feces and likes to stick his hands in them. Then he likes to stick his finger in his mouth to test the wind direction. The whole thing amounts to “Oh, look, there’s a bear over there.” Shocking that this ended up on the cutting-room floor.
If the stupid boat malfunctions are the worst gimmick in this show, then the Matt vs. Bam World Championship Pissing Matches have to be a close second. “All you’re doing right now is whining like a little girl in pigtails,” Bam tells Matt. Then Matt lays on a pretty slick burn: “You have pigtails!” The Skiff just laughs. Not with them. At them. “I was right because I didn’t go in the ocean,” Matt says, declaring a moral victory. “I still did whatever I wanted. But a big motto is ‘no chick-flick moments.’ We know that things are going to get hot and heavy and we may even go to blows, but Bam and I normally knuckle-bust and say we’re sorry.”
There’s some all-important, post-hunt Gabe-carrying-deer footage that we missed out on. “They don’t film the mile and a half or 2 miles or more that you’re really carrying the deer,” says Billy. Oh, if they don’t film it, then what the hell am I watching? They film it, but they don’t air it because it is both dull and bad.
Then we get to the most interesting member of the family, Mr. Cupcake. “Mr. Cupcake has been a lot of the times a real problem,” Billy says. “He’s very lovable dog, but he’s a pup, you know. We’ll be trying to do something, and all of a sudden, you know, you’ll get attacked from the side by Cupcake.” Cupcake humps people. He gets in the camera crew’s way. Cupcake chases Bear when he goes out on his EXXXTREME runs, grabbing on Bear’s shirt sleeve. “He just sees that as an open invitation to chew on my arm,” Bear says.
The episode about the chickens was one of the best ever in the series (faint praise), mostly because of the van full of hot, smelly chicken feces. In a deleted scene, the Brown kids are at sea when Chicken Whisperer Snowbird takes one of the chickens and puts it on Gabe’s shoulder while he steers the Lorcan. “They call me Captain Chickenhearted the Cruel!” Gabe yells. Too bad he didn’t have Matt’s eyepatch at the time. We also learn that the chickens are affectionately named after members of the crew, which makes it all the more sad when the bears “ravish” the chickens in the season finale.
And finally … KENNY! Yes, Kenny from the Junkyard! The very fact that a scene involving Kenny driving around the junkyard crushing boats with a bulldozer was cut from the show is just proof that the producers have no idea what they’re doing. I would legitimately enjoy, without irony, a show like Alaskan Junkyard Workers. For a crazy sumbitch, Kenny’s pretty clever with his “Chevro-Legs” joke. At least the interns who operate the show’s Twitter account kinda get it.
— Alaskan Bush People (@AlaskanBushPPL) August 1, 2015
While the Brown boys are supposed to be demolishing a garage so the family can buy that wood stove, Matt’s cruising around in the bulldozer with Kenny. “To them it looks like a waste of time, but actually I’m spending the time on my adrenaline,” Matt explains. “My adrenaline is very important. You don’t want to see me without adrenaline. It looks like a lot like sleep.” I was unaware Matt held a degree in endocrinology.
Ugh. Now we get to Noah. The kid who was once the soft-spoken, introspective, genteel member of the family has been fully transformed into the self-absorbed, haughty, creepy, egotistical asshat you see now. Noah challenges Bam to a duel over tent ownership rights, so they battle it out with sticks in something that resembles Kendo. Noah sweeps the leg, throws snow in Bam’s eyes and then “slays” Bam. Somewhere in this nonsense, Noah mistakes “harbinger” for “harvest” and says something about “Once I kill you, I’m going to harvest your organs.” This would be funnier if the kid did not actually have harvested organs in jars in his tent. Noah didn’t have to throw snow at his brother because he “would’ve won anyway. It just shortened the victory.” (I have no doubt that if Bam were really trying, he would’ve DESTROYED Noah.) After all this, Noah says he didn’t even want Bam’s tent and prefers his own because “it gives me a lot more room to work on my experiments.” So Noah just wanted to be a dickbag. Mission accomplished.
But Noah’s dickbaggery doesn’t end there. We get some lost footage on the construction of the bicycle-powered elevator that Noah invented and has never been seen on any other Discovery network show or on the Internet. Noah has some other invention that he’s working on, but he won’t tell us what it is. “Regretfully, I don’t think anyone would believe it,” he says. “Not to sound arrogant or conceited — it’s just merely honesty — that it will change things completely.” I hope it’s some kind of device that allows him to go screw himself.
There’s a segment about Snowbird naming her tools. I’m not even sure the dialogue is in English, and I watched it with the captions on. “My hammer’s name is Death-Bringer,” Birdy says. We see Birdy driving in nails with all the brute force of a butterfly. DIE, NAILS! DIE! *tap* *tap*
We all know that Matt is an obnoxious ass on camera, but did you know that he’s also an insufferable buffoon after every take? He likes to give a shout out to the poor bastards in post-production who have to go through all the footage in the editing room and try to turn these imbeciles’ antics into a semi-coherent story. It is a Herculean task. So I want to give my own SHOUT OUT TO POST!!
At last we’re at the end of this mess. What do the Browns like to do for family entertainment? They like to sit around the campfire and recite passages from Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe. Noah displays profound pseudo-intellectualism in his misinterpretation of Poe’s “Eldorado,” somehow equating the unattainable Lost City of Gold to the junk-strewn desolation of Brownton Abbey.
“Definitely an AWESOME end to an AWESOME day,” Bear says.
— BitchByBravo (@BitchByBravo) August 1, 2015