“Alaskan Bush People” is a reality TV series that follows the Brown family of nine, who had given up modern perks to live in remote Alaska, depending solely on their survivalist abilities and each other. Since the show premiered in May 2014, it has become one of the most-watched Discovery Channel series, due to its interesting content, catering to people who have always wondered about the off-the-grid lifestyle. On the other hand, the series “Alaskan Bush People” has been ridden with controversy and scandals from the first season, criticized for scripted content, false representations, and numerous apparent wrongdoings. Today, we bring you the main reasons fans are tired of the series.
Lying about their lifestyle
The whole premise of the series is considered by many to be genius – people living in the wilderness without contemporary conveniences, relying solely on their own skills. However, the show and the family have been called out numerous times for lying about their seemingly off-the-grid lifestyle and whereabouts, which obviously takes away from the show. When the series began airing, the family disclosed: ‘We’re leaving society to live at the end of the world’, shook off the shackles of the modern world and bought an estate that was in ‘deep bush’.
According to Alaska Dispatch News, the family is not nearly as isolated as they claim to be, revealing that their house is “accessible from a dirt road just off the highway.’ In addition, if some of the cast members are not in the mood to hunt deer or catch a fish, they can just walk along to the pizza parlor called Grizzly Pizza, which is just half a mile from their residence.
Sleeping in Hotels
Can we blame the Brown family for wanting some comfort? Well, yes, we can! While claiming to be all ‘born and raised wild’, and living in Alaska’s challenging and unstable environment, the family is not quite adamant in actually rejecting modern perks, especially hotels. According to Hoonah locals, the family often spent the night at the Icy Strait Lodge, and said: ‘All of the boys have their own room.’ Of course, having a room at a lodge isn’t punishable by law, but it certainly casts a shadow of doubt over their show and their claims.
Furthermore, the family’s oldest member Matt, known to the public for his addiction to alcohol, had reportedly spent a lot of time at the lodge’s bar and restaurant. One source revealed to the media outlet Radar Online, that Matt was even arrested for DUI after picking up a girl he had met in the Juneau bar. In addition, the source shared some other juicy information about Matt, saying: “Matt is very good with the ladies, charming and funny. A natural flirt. He holds nothing back when trying to get up a girl’s skirt. He even has memorized pick-up lines!’
Reportedly, some of the Discovery Channel production crew members occasionally spent time at the Icy Strait, and Matt lived with them at the Misty Bay Lodge. However, many believed that their ‘bush’ home known as “Browntown,” was just a front for the series, and that the family usually only spent time there when filming.
The Family is not that unfamiliar with technology
Since the show came to life, it stressed that the family was not as tech-savvy as you would expect, didn’t know how to use an iPhone, and couldn’t even pronounce Jay-Z’s name. Furthermore, they were oblivious to who Kim Kardashian was, and had never used a computer.
So, if you’ve watched the show, you must know that the idea sprang-up from a book the late Billy Brown, the family’s patriarch wrote, entitled “One Wave at a Time.” When the show began airing, fans were shocked to learn that Billy had his own website to promote his book, and it seemed that the site was set up by someone knowledgeable and experienced. Of course, there is always a possibility that Billy hired someone for the job, so despite their unique lifestyle, Billy was wise enough to know that promotion is vital in the modern world.
Another fact reinforces the notion even more that the family lied about being technologically illiterate, is that some of the family members, such as Bam Bam, Gabe, and Noah, created YouTube channels in 2009, five years before the show even premiered. For a family that supposedly doesn’t know how to use an iPhone, they are quite familiar with YouTube!
Paid Actors on the Show
In the fourth and fifth season of the show, the Browns commuted to California, where Noah met a girl named Karyna Kauffman and developed a bond with her. However, after returning to his home estate, he wanted to see her again, and decided to call her on a date which she allowed to be filmed. During an interview, Karyna talked about Noah, saying he was: ‘a very different and interesting person.
However, the fans noted that she didn’t seem interested in him at all, and he certainly didn’t make any attempts to correct that, and even ruined his chances with his actions. He first showed her around, and while visiting the chicken coop, Noah began playing an electric keyboard and singing a song about his heartbreak from a previous girlfriend. The fact that Noah is not vocally gifted only added to this hard-to-watch performance, although Karyna kept a straight face during this ordeal.
— Blasting News (@BlastingNews) May 18, 2016
Later, the Guide Channel uncovered that Noah’s seemingly random date was not that random at all. As it turned out, Karyna is an aspiring actress with an IMDB page, and three credits for short romantic movies including “Love in the Time of Flannel” and “The Song of Birds & Bees.” It remained undisclosed whether she was paid for her appearance on the show, but many believed that she was there to grab her 15-minutes of fame, as there was no chemistry between her and Noah, and the whole situation felt staged.
Contradictory Stories About the Cabin
The whole idea of the show and the family’s reason for moving to remote Alaska was rooted in the tragic event of losing their family cabin to fire, which served as a catalyst and forced them to find another home. However, it seemed that Billy could never get this story straight, of what actually caused the fire.
A cozy campfire and a forest full of smiles. 🏕Where was your last camping trip? #AlaskanBushPeople
In the first season, which shows the family trying to build a makeshift cabin, he initially claimed that the government had it burnt down because it was on public land. His second version was that the fire was entirely accidental, contradicting his previous statement.
When the second season aired, Billy had changed his story for the second time; he said: ‘My cabin burned and I wasn’t home. That’s all I can say.’ His last statements regarding the cabin and the fire were a far cry from accusing the US government of arson, so it became apparent that a network attorney probably advised Billy to change his story. After all, pointing the finger at the government, especially without evidence, is never a good idea.
Bam Bam and Billy’s Legal Troubles
When you think that it couldn’t get any worse, the Browns proved that it can! On top of numerous accusations of promoting a fake lifestyle, and enjoying the conveniences of the modern world, while claiming to be devoid of them, in 2016, Billy and Bam Bam were sentenced to 30 days in prison for lying on Alaska State forms. What happened was that the family provided false information while submitting their applications for Alaska permanent fund support, and thus falsely obtained oil revenue checks. These annual forms are only available to Alaskan residents, and according to the Alaskan Law, residents need to live year-round to be eligible for them.
— Ryan Berenz (@RyanBerenz) March 16, 2022
When they collected these checks from 2011 to 2013, the family moved from place to place, making them ineligible to collect them. Allegedly the whole family was charged, but Billy and Bam Bam made a deal with the prosecution to spare the rest of the family of this inconvenience; they pleaded guilty for unsworn falsification, and received 30 days in prison. In addition, they were stripped of their right to claim these checks ever again, and had to perform 40 days of community service on top of several fines, ranging from $3,000 to $10,000.
So now that Billy and bam are going to jail for lying about living in Alaska will the show finally admit it's not a documentery and these people don't live in the Bush in Alaska like you claim?
After the news made headlines, Billy talked to a media outlet and said: ”Because of the way we live our lives and the way we often unconventionally travel, I didn’t keep good track of our movements. So I accept full responsibility for filing for benefits without confirming that we met the requirements.”
Tricking a Girl to Participate in the Show
Scripting content and staging situations are not a novelty when it comes to reality TV series, and that is common knowledge. However, it seemed that the producers of “Alaskan Bush People” stooped to a new ‘low’ when they allegedly tricked a girl, Christina O’Malley, into thinking that she was on a dating show. According to reports, Christina signed up on the dating site, Alaskamen.com, then was mysteriously contacted by the “Alaskan Bush People” producers’. They arranged a ‘phone call between her and Gabe, which she believed was for the purposes of the dating show.
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Patiently waiting for the next stage of the show, Christina was later brushed off by Carter, who disclosed that ‘Gabe wasn’t feeling well’, and couldn’t bring her to Alaska. She was in for a nasty surprise after seeing the edited conversation between her and Gabe in the show’s episode, which also featured Christina’s photo. Later, Christina and her mother disclosed to the media that they had been outraged by the deception and that the producers definitely manipulated her. None of the family members or the show’s producers confirmed this, but if it did transpire, as Christine and her mother revealed, it shows the length some people are willing to go to for ‘interesting’ content.
Sabrina the Cow was a Prop
In the eighth season, the family gets a new addition for “Browntown,” Sabrina the cow. Under the pretense that the family needed a steady source of milk essential to their ‘bush life’ and self-sustainability, the family matriarch arranged the purchase of the cow in Hoonah. As it appeared, the only problem for the family was how to get transportation to their homestead. They settled by making a makeshift pen onto their barge, and then transported Sabrina across Alaskan waters, however, the whole story turned out to be a lie.
The owner of Edelweiss Diary, Hans Wolfisberg, talked to the Lynden Tribune and disclosed that the producers of the show contacted him; he said: ‘They were in a need of a cow, and Wolfisbergs were in supply.’ Furthermore, despite the show’s portrayal, the cow was directly transported to their homestead without any complications.
Hans’ daughter, Jan, who was Sabrina’s owner at the time, ‘stayed with the family and crew to teach them how to properly care for the prize-winning cow.’ After they filmed the episode, they reportedly got rid of the cow, Hans disclosing: ‘After moving to Alaska, Sabrina would stay with the Brown family for a month while video footage was shot, before being adopted by an Alaskan local to live out the remainder of her life.’ Many fans joked about the cow and its supernatural milk, which can allegedly sustain a family of nine for a lifetime of wilderness independence in a month.
Asking Money from Fans
In 2018, Noah Brown and Rhain married, and set up a funding page on Facebook to collect some money for their honeymoon, which read: ‘Help us enjoy our honeymoon in Montana! We have never needed a lot, but these few things would go a long way.” While creating these types of sites is not unusual, especially for those with financial issues, what shocked the fans was that they put a minimal amount that could be donated, with additional fees. So, if you wanted to support the newlyweds, you would have to offer at least $2. Other fans pointed out that it was ironic that they were asking for money in the first place. At the time, they had apparently been receiving between $8,000 to $15,000 per episode, and other revenues acquired through their social media and promotions.
In true Brown fashion, Noah and Ruth are asking the fans to pay for their honeymoon😲
So what’s the end result for the series? It hasn’t been formally cancelled, but as of mid-2022, its future must be in serious doubt.