A special episode of Discovery Channel’s Alaskan Bush People, “Browns Down South” (July 22), gives a deeper look into the Browns’ time spent down south. And in never-before-seen footage, brothers Bear and Bam commemorate their time in the Lower 48 in an extreme way.
[Editor’s note: Several viewers have made known to us their displeasure in regard to episode recaps of the Discovery Channel docuseries “Alaskan Bush People” that regularly appear on this website. We have taken these concerns seriously. We have implemented changes, effective with this week’s special episode recap, to ensure that our coverage of this program is fair, balanced and, most importantly, consistent with facts. We apologize to those readers inconvenienced or offended by this egregious error.]
So just when you think the Alaskan Bush People season is over … SURPRISE! We get MORE! In the special episode “Browns Down South,” we get to see some more of the family’s adventures in the Lower 48 while they were getting the desperately needed treatment for Billy’s seizure disorder. It looks like Billy is going to be just fine. I knew he would be!
The Lower 48 is so different from anything the Browns have ever seen before. When you grow up all your life in the pristine woods of remote Alaska, it’s hard to adjust to things like air pollution. “The worst part, to me, is the smell,” Bear says. “It gets in my nose and just makes where I can’t smell stuff for days.” There are days when I wish I couldn’t smell stuff, especially when I’m near my coworker Louis. (Just kidding, Louis! 😂)
Ami is just amazed and shocked by how many strip malls there are everywhere. “We’d heard about it for years and years and years, you go and there’s what you call a strip mall but then you go a little further and there’s another strip mall for that neighborhood with the same identical stores and it just repeats and repeats and repeats,” she says. So long as one of those stores is a RadioShack, I’m happy! “You think that if you’re going shopping, you want to go into one store and it would have everything,” Bear says. Bear has obviously never been to Fleet Farm! If you can’t find it at Fleet Farm, you don’t need it!
Another thing that the Browns found strange in the Lower 48 is the food. The Browns hunt and fish and live off the land in the Alaskan Bush, but most of us just here just go to the supermarket or Golden Corral. Bear was amazed at all the strange food we have here, especially something called “Shawarma.” “It was strange, though, seriously, I’ve never even heard of half of it,” Bear says. “Yeah, it wasn’t bad, actually.” Don’t feel bad, Bear. I have no idea what any of that stuff is, either! Maybe next time, just try the cheeseburger! 😋
When it’s time for dinner, one of the Browns is in charge of scrounging up some grub. Gabe and Matt are just in awe of these vending machines that give you food if you put money into them. I know! CRAZY, right? But come on, guys! You can’t feed dinner to a family of nine from a vending machine! So what do they come up with? DOUGHNUTS! ROFL! It sounds like Bear has a sweet tooth. He says he snacks on sugar sandwiches, which are slices of bread with sugar sprinkled on them, sometimes fried in butter. That sounds AWESOME! It’s like Bush French Toast! I hope Ami puts the recipe in her new cookbook. Bear is also amazed by the amount of candy there is in the Lower 48. “I have never eaten so much candy in my entire life,” he says. Hey, he needs that much sugar to keep up his extreme lifestyle. Just be careful, Bear, because you know how hard it is to find dental care in the Bush, and you also don’t want to get the diabetes.
While doughnuts for dinner might be a nice treat when you’re on vacation, still nothing beats a home-cooked meal made with ingredients that you grew or foraged for yourself, or wild game that you tracked, killed, dressed, skinned and butchered with your survivalist skills. “It’s home-cooked, it’s fresher, a lot more love goes into it,” Matt says of his mom’s delicious Bush Comfort Food. I suppose Bambi’s mom would disagree about the love part, but I guess the Browns have to do what they have to do to keep from starving to death during the brutal Alaskan winter.
Let’s see. What else is awful in the Lower 48? Oh, cell phones! “Everybody’s constantly on their phone or computer,” Birdy says. “They’re constantly texting. I guess I didn’t realize like how much technology has taken over everybody’s life.” OMG, you don’t know the half of it, sister! I got this Candy Crush game and I absolutely cannot stop playing it! It’s a good thing the Browns don’t have phones, because they’d be more addicted to them than Bear is addicted to sugar.
Oh, and don’t get the Browns started on those hoverboards that everybody uses to get around everywhere down here. They’re cool and all, “But I way prefer running in the Bush,” Bear says. You go, Bear! Plus, you won’t get your house burned down because of a cheaply made, faulty hoverboard battery.
Uh, oh! In the Lower 48 you can’t wash your clothes in the clean creek like you can in Alaska. Here, all the creeks are polluted with E. coli, fertilizer runoff and used syringes. Bear has to use a coin-operated washing machine, and doesn’t know how it works or how to put in the soap or anything! 😂 Bear washed his red sweatshirt with his white sleeveless T-shirts and all the T-shirts came out colored PINK! HAHAHAH! I bet that would NEVER happen with the Bush Washing Machine that Noah invented. The good news is that Rainy got a few new pink shirts out of it, but she’ll have to grow a few more years before she’s big enough to fit in Bear’s clothes.
Things are much slower in Alaska than they are in the Lower 48. While we all chase the clock, the Browns don’t even have a clock! Their time clock is the tide. “I just wish everybody could slow down a little bit and enjoy life,” Birdy says. Amen, sister! I’m thinking about quitting my job, selling my house and car, taking my kids out of school and building a house in the Alaskan Bush just like the Browns. They make it look so easy! If they can do it, so can I!
Everybody kept telling the Browns to take an Über, but they didn’t know what an Über was. I didn’t even know what an Über was until I typed it into the Google. I don’t know why someone would ever use such a silly thing.
This episode isn’t all Übers and hoverboards, though. In a previously unseen scene, we learned that Matt got bit by a stray dog in Hoonah, got an infection and then had to fly to Juneau for emergency medical care. Fortunately, Matt had his brother Noah to comfort him at the hospital. “That sucks. You look half-dead, man,” Noah says. Matt pulled through just fine, and I hope he’ll be more careful around unfamiliar dogs the next time he’s in Hoonah.
Remember that time when the Browns’ motor home broke down in Oregon? I know Billy got a really good deal on that RV, but he totally got scammed and they’re really lucky someone didn’t get seriously hurt in the fire. Fortunately, they got it towed by Mickey, a real Good Samaritan who let the Browns stay in his junkyard overnight while they ordered a replacement motor for the RV. Mickey not only let the Browns sleep in the junkyard, he let them borrow a brand-new RV he wasn’t using so they could finish their trip to San Diego. People like Mickey are a blessing!
At least one thing in the Lower 48 is as good as in Alaska: the junkyards! Mickey’s got all sorts of cool scrap, like empty liquid nitrogen tanks. Noah says he can use them to store “blood and heart” samples. I swear, Noah can find a new use for any old junk! “Junkyards and stuff in the Lower 48 are basically like a giant playground,” Gabe says, showing off his best Lord of the Dance routine. It’s too bad Gabe doesn’t have a phone, because I think Michael Flatley is trying to call him about an audition! (Just kidding, Gabe. Keep practicing!) “The Lower 48 has just as much Bush stuff as Alaska does, and you just have to know where to go to find it,” Gabe says. You can come to my neighbor’s yard and take whatever junk you want, Gabe!
There are a few good Bush people in the Lower 48, and the Browns just happened to find one at Coyote’s Flying Saucer Retrievals and Repairs Service in Jacumba, Calif. Coyote made his own out-of-this-world amusement park with flying saucers built from golf carts and plexiglas domes. Matt goes for a ride in one of the flying saucers. He’s always trying to impress the ladies, and this flying saucer might just be the perfect vehicle to go “bird-doggin'” in.
Matt is just too funny! I love all his harebrained schemes that turn out to be brilliant in the long run. Though one of Matt’s plans didn’t work out too well when he decided to sleep in the motel’s bathtub. Of course, Bear couldn’t resist an “extremely extreme prank” and he turned the bathtub faucet on … while Matt’s sleeping in the tub!
It’s really hard to find a woman in Alaska, especially one who’s willing to move into the Bush and provide Ami with a grandbaby by the third date. The long RV trip gives the Brown boys the chance to discuss and share their favorite strategies for pitching woo. “You insert a compliment immediately followed by a slight veiled insult,” Noah suggests. “For instance, complimenting eyes and then informing them that it’s actually mutation.” Wow. Is there anything Noah doesn’t know? Bear has an even better method. “My strategy with women is filibuster,” he says. “You just keep talking and it never stops.” LOL! I think I could listen to Bear talk forever! Ami tried a matchmaker to help the boys find love, but she’s got another plan in the works. “We’ve known people who’ve done mail order brides, that believe it or not, they had very long lasting relationships,” she says. Could Gabe’s new Russian wife be stepping off the skiff and into Browntown next season? I can’t wait to find out!
“Communication between genders is very important,” Noah says. “It’s fragile. It’s like dynamite. It should be handled with care.” It’s really hard to keep in touch with girls when the nearest phone is an hour’s boat ride to Hoonah. And then, there’s no guarantee you’re going to get good reception. “Of course, the way I am, my charm gets through,” he says. I really hope Noah finds love again. He’s so smart, sensitive, humble and thoughtful. I can really tell how heartbroken he is after Christy treated him so cruelly and left him to go to college. I really thought she was the one to help Browntown grow. I guess Noah will have to keep searching for The One.
Matt had a date that we didn’t get to see during the season. Matt met a girl named Reagan in Hoonah and took her to his favorite place, the dump. He’s such a romantic! 😻 He built a fire in a junked van and they sat together. “So, first time?” Matt asks. “In a wreck?” she replies. Of course! What else would he mean? HAHA! “He built a fire in a van. I’m actually speechless,” Reagan says. “Matt’s a great guy. He’s cute. Yep.” I think it’s time to bring Reagan to Brownton and have Ami evaluate her for grandbaby potential.
Birdy and Rainy love animals, even the ones that are considered filthy or a nuisance in the Lower 48. They found a pigeon and named it Purple. Awwwww. I hope they didn’t handle Purple too much or they could get sick and end up in the hospital like Matt did after he tried to pet that dog in Hoonah.
The Browns need a way to permanently remember their once-in-a-lifetime journey down the West Coast. So Bam and Bear go to a tattoo shop, and Bear wants an extreme tattoo on his back to match his extreme personality. Noah got a dragon tattoo on his right arm. “I got a dragon, because I love dragons,” Noah says. “It kind of represents the animal inside of me. It’s everything I suppress through meditation: Love, anger, rage, feelings.” Poor Noah. He’s so misunderstood. I hope he finds the love and respect he deserves. Matt got a Frankenstein’s monster tattoo. “A lot of things in my life seem to be kind of Frankenstein,” Matt says. “I guess I feel a little bit like a mad genius every now and then. You know it’s like I’ve got the mad and wait for the genius.” I hope that when Matt gets cured of the alcoholism that he doesn’t also get cured of his infectious wit and charm! As for Bam, the bossy no-fun know-it-all, he just got a plain old forearm tattoo that says “Gypsy,” because that was the name of his first boat.
I can hardly wait to see how Bear’s extreme back tattoo turns out! And then it’s finally time for the big reveal … Drum roll, please! …
OMG. That is AWESOME. It’s not only an extreme tattoo, it’s also literally an EXTREME tattoo! Bear says he got it on his back because, “If I was running, like, away from someone and I didn’t have my shirt on, I’d want them to know at first glance just how extreme I am.” I can’t imagine someone as extreme as bear ever needing to shirtlessly run away from someone.
Even Bear’s mom and dad are really impressed.
And so the Browns’ adventures in the Lower 48 have come to an end. “I guess down south is kind of like the moon,” Noah says. “It would be a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” So true, Noah. So sad but so true. The Browns get to go back to their home in the peace and serenity of nature, even though they’ll only have a little time before Billy and Bam have to report to Juneau to serve their sentences for the family’s sake.
Which makes me so mad, because I can’t believe how unfairly the bureaucratic pencil pushers in the state of Alaska have treated the Brown family. The Browns have lived in the Alaskan wild for over 30 years, and suddenly the state accuses them of living somewhere else. PREPOSTEROUS! First the government burned their old cabin down, and then THIS! It sure as hell wouldn’t have happened if Sarah Palin was still in charge up there. 😡 Government intrusion in the lives of good, hard-working, self-reliant families who just want to live the way nature intended has got to stop. The Browns live off the grid and don’t have utility bills or receipts or those kinds of things that would prove they lived in Alaska all these years. How are they supposed to know how many days they’ve been there? They don’t even know exactly when their birthdays are! Of course the Browns couldn’t afford a good lawyer and they couldn’t buy themselves freedom like O.J. Simpson did. And the state of Alaska kept dragging out this injustice, trying to wear the family down and break their spirit. So Billy did what every loving father would: He and Bam sacrificed themselves so Alaska couldn’t hurt the rest of the family any more.
I’ve been trying to find a copy of Billy’s One Wave at a Time book for about two years now, and I’ve called the local bookshop every day to see if a used one has shown up. So far, no luck … unless you count Brown Luck! 😂 But just like the Browns, I’m never giving up!
I can’t wait until Season 5! Until then …