Reality Television has taken over the airwaves in recent years. When flicking through television stations, viewers can't help but run across a wide array of shows that offer glimpses into the lives of other people. And it's fascinating to see how people different from us choose to live!
The Discovery Channel hit a gold mine when they came across the Brown family and their unique way of looking at life. The Browns' non-conformist, off-the-grid living style was just what the Discovery Channel was looking for, and once the family and network teamed up, Alaskan Bush People was born.
The reality television show follows patriarch Billy Brown, his mannered wife Ami, and their seven grown children as they navigate life out in the Alaskan wilderness. Fans of the show were immediately captivated by the sense of adventure and excitement that they show exudes, but in the twisty world of reality television, not everything is as it appears.
While some aspects of the Brown family and their way of life are fairly authentic, other parts of the show might be fabricated all for the sake of ratings. Check out these varying aspects of the hit television show and judge appropriately: just how real is this reality television show?
20 Fake: Non-Alaskan Alaskans
You would think with a hit television show called Alaskan Bush People, the stars of the show would be legit Alaskans, right? Not exactly. While the smash series housed by the Discovery Channel revolves around one off the grid family, living their lives out in the Alaskan wilderness, the matriarch and patriarch of the clan are far from true northerners.
According to Ranker, the Brown family, stars of Alaskan Bush People, arrived in Alaska in the 1980s. Before that, they resided in Texas, where both Billy and Ami Brown were born. Billy's family was even reasonably wealthy back in the Lonestar State.
19 Fake: They Don't Exactly Live Out In The Boonies
The Discovery Channel tries to make it appear as if the Brown family lives in the middle of nowhere, far away from any shred of civilization. Their chosen isolation is partly what makes them so fascinating to viewers. Are they truly living way off of the grid though?
In Touch Weekly reported that the Browns' off-grid-lifestyle might be fabricated. Their first location, which they abandoned in 2012, was only half a mile from a local pizza place. The Anchorage Daily News also called foul on the clan's remote locale, stating that their property was only about ten miles south of Copper Center—far from exotic.
18 For Real: A True Romance
Some of the romances on Alaskan Bush People are not what they seem, but one of them is as honest and true as can be. Bam Bam Brown fell hard for Allison Kagen. The couple met on set where she was a supervising field producer for Alaskan Bush People's third season. They didn't fall in love right then and there, but they did start dating later on.
In Touch Weekly reported that Bam Bam left the cold north for New York, where he and his city lady are busy renovating and living on their dream boat. Bam Bam no longer appears on the family show, having left after the sixth season, and Allison works as a field producer for 0 Day Fiancé and True Life.
17 Fake: Their T.V. Dwelling Differs From Their Actual Dwelling
Viewers of the reality series get a front row seat to the shanty shack where the Browns would supposedly rest their heads after a long, hard day out in the bush. Browntown was where they supposedly lived. It was never an actual town, but rather it consisted of several roughly built abodes for the family to live in.
According to Radar Online, the family only filmed at Browntown. When the cameras stopped rolling, they camped out at the posh Icy Strait Lodge in Hoonah, Alaska. After matriarch Ami received her cancer diagnosis, the family decided to leave Alaska altogether as she was undergoing treatment in the lower 48 states.
16 For Real: They Defied The Law, And It Caught Up With Them
The Browns ran into some trouble with the law a few years back, and it almost landed two of the family members behind bars! Both Billy and Joshua "Bam Bam" Brown found themselves in a sticky situation after they lied and applied for federal funds that they weren't qualified to receive.
According to ABC News, the dad and son duo ended up paying over twenty thousand dollars in restitution and even earned sentences of thirty days behind bars. Lucky for the Browns they ended up only having to wear ankle monitors for their federal mistakes. Just because you live off the grid doesn't mean that you can ignore the government, fellas!
15 Fake: Not Everyone Is Who They Appear To Be
In season five of Alaskan Bush People, Noah Brown found himself with Browntown all to himself. What was a single guy to do? Noah invited a lovely lady who he had met in the lower 48 states for a bit of quality time. First, he showed her his bedroom, which used to be a chicken coop, then he played her a love song that he had written about a former girlfriend.
Somehow this girl kept a straight face throughout the entire evening, but how? For starters, she was likely a hired actress. According to Ranker, the woman who appears on the episode is Karynna Kauffman, and she has several acting credits to her name.
14 For Real: Family Drama (Amy's Family And Billy's Family Have Beef)
Billy and Ami Brown positively adore their children, but when it comes to other family members, things are far more strained. Ami and Billy fell hard for each other back when they were just two young Texans. According to the Inquisitr, Billy had been working on some plumbing at Ami's mother's house when the two fell madly in love. Ami's mother signed consent for the kids to get married, but she claims Billy led her astray.
Billy Brown told Ami's mother that he was much younger than originally stated and he also said he would make sure Ami completed high school after they wed. Months later, the young couple disappeared into the Alaskan wilderness. For obvious reasons, Ami's family was a bit jaded, and that resentment has only grown over the years.
13 Fake: Rich People Roughing It
The Browns appear as if they are very poor, living off of the land and residing in shacks that they built with their own two hands. This appearance could not be further from the truth. Billy was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. According to Nicki Swift, Billy's family was wealthy enough to gift him cars, boats, and even planes.
That all changed when his family passed away, leaving him destitute. These days everyone in his family makes a serious paycheck from their television show. His net worth is about half a million dollars, meaning that each of those reality television seasons is paying off big time.
12 For Real: Some Of The Nicknames Are Legit
The Alaskan Bush People have names as wild as their wilderness surroundings. Ami and Billy decided to think outside of the box when it came to naming their kiddos. On television, they are often seen calling out for Bam Bam, Birdie, Bear or Rainey. Considering that the show embellishes on a lot of things, viewers might think these names are merely staged names.
Some of the nicknames are not related to the cast member's actual names, that much is true, but others are entirely legit. For example, Snowbird's real name is Amora Jean Snowbird Brown. Rainy's full name is Merry Christmas Kathryn Raindrop Brown!
11 Fake: Family Man
Billy seems to genuinely adore his wife Ami and dearly love his seven children. Fans of the show might be surprised to learn that before marrying a teenage Ami, Billy had already become a family man! According to Ranker, Billy had a wife and two children before he decided that Ami was the only woman for him.
The kids from his first union don't nearly have relationships with their father like the seven kids by Ami have, although his first daughter Twila isn't exactly estranged. If Billy Brown is such a family-centered guy, wouldn't he have tried harder to be involved in his other kids' lives?
10 For Real: Matt's Struggles
Matt Brown has had his fair share of ups and downs over the last few years. He has struggled with some inner demons, and according to People magazine, the reality star recently sought out professional help for the second time in three years to resolve deep issues.
Conquering the unhealthy habits is a challenge for anyone, but an especially difficult problem for those who choose to live their lives in the public eye. Hopefully, this second stint with treatment will end up being just what Matt needs to live the rest of his life happy and healthy out in the Alaskan wilderness.
9 Fake: Technologically Challenged
The show makes it seem like these Browns are backward when it comes to technology, but they actually ran a website long before the family ever landed a hit reality show. They used that website to help sell the books that Billy Brown had penned. According to Nicki Swift, the Brown family ran a site designed to help promote Billy's book sales. Creating and running a website is no small feat, so this leads us to believe that their technological ignorance is fake.
Besides this family-run website, many of the Brown youths had current social media channels up and running before the show began airing. Our guess is that they know far more than they are letting on. Selfie, anyone?
8 For Real: Accidents In The Wilderness
The Browns might not live deep in no man's land, but that doesn't mean that danger isn't present during filming. Regardless of whether or not they all reside entirely off the grid, they do still live in Alaska. Cast and crew battle the elements as well as animal threats when they are up in the rugged North.
According to Nicki Swift, Matt Brown once ended up in the hospital because of a strange accident with a refrigerator. Matt's oops resulted in him having to receive nine staples in his noggin. Life in the bush might not be completely authentic, but that doesn't mean that there aren't some hazards lurking about.
7 Fake: Browntown Is NOT On Their Property
The concept of Browntown is a stretched truth at best. Not only do locals claim that the family films there, as opposed to lives there, but the homestead isn't even on the family's own land! According to Channel Guide Magazine, Billy's claim that the clan has their own home on their property is false.
Billy stated that this purchase was possible because of, "a Special Use Permit on the [Hoonah Ranger District] Tongass National Forest," but others say that is not possible. People were quick to point out that you can't lease public land unless you have specific permits. Even then, the practice of leasing public land is complicated.
6 For Real: Alaskans' Disdain For The Show Is VERY Real
The reality television show Alaskan Bush People has garnered tons of fans over the years, but not everyone is in love with the Brown family. Most actual residents of Hoonah, Alaska resent the way that these Texans portray their community. And it doesn't look like the Alaskan residents are the only ones who have a chip on their shoulder when it comes to the Browns.
The neighbors in their new town of Omak, Washington aren't enthralled with them either. According to the Inquisitr, the Browns' new neighbors consider themselves old school conservatives and don't like their new Hollywood neighbors.
5 Fake: The Family Cow Was A Prop
During one season of Alaskan Bush People, the Browns decided that their homestead needed a cow so that they had access to fresh dairy products. Enter: Sabrina the Cow. The family hiked it over to Hoohah, Alaska to purchase the animal and bring her on home to Browntown. Sabrina didn't have much time to get comfortable there though, because once the cameras stopped rolling and Sabrina's storyline got used, she was out of there.
According to the Lynden Tribune, Sabrina the cow was shipped off to her forever home once the family was done using her for television. We thought it was strange that such a large family would only purchase one cow to provide milk for all those Browns.
4 For Real: They Celebrate Holidays Whenever They Feel Like It
Billy, Ami, and their kids live by their own rules and traditions, that much is obvious. According to The Travel, the large family even celebrates holidays whenever the mood strikes them. Calendars mean very little to this wilderness bunch.
During season five the family threw father Billy a 63rd birthday bash an entire six months before his actual birthday arrived, just because they felt like it. The Browns are most certainly non-traditional in how they choose to live, celebrate, and even name their kids. Living your life as a non-conformist can be equal parts challenging and liberating, and the Browns prioritize the ability to do as they wish.
3 Fake: Made Up Threats Were Fireworks
Browntown saw some drama in an episode of season one called Fight or Flight that claimed that family was under attack. Tensions ran high when the Browns stated that their neighbors were threatening them. Loud noises heard in the background might have sounded bad, but in reality, they were anything but. According to Nicki Swift, the Browns were never in any danger.
The sounds had come from a neighbor who fired some fireworks off at a hovering helicopter because the aircraft's loud noises were scaring his son. The neighbor received a five hundred dollar fine for his retaliation, but that was about it. The show producers used this event to their advantage and never bothered to clear it up with viewers.
2 For Real: Teenage Love To Golden Years
So much of the Alaskan Bush People reality show is fabricated or embellished, but one thing is honest and pure, and that is Billy's love for his wife, Ami. Say what you will, but these two are a bit to a true love story. According to Nicki Swift, Billy first laid eyes on Ami when she was only fifteen years old. A much older Billy loved her so much that he could not wait for her to become an adult and had to marry her immediately.
The couple had very little chance at making it with getting hitched that young, but here they are, decades later, the parents to seven children. They have seen each other through the good and the bad, and we don't see them ever leaving each other's side.
1 Fake: The Long Lost Daughter Was Never Really Lost
Well, well, who is this? This woman isn't one of the Brown seven, but she is one of Billy's children. Twila is the "long-lost" daughter of Billy Brown. The show used her existence to paint a picture of family heartbreak and father-daughter reconciliation, but many say that could not be further from the truth. Twila was never "lost."
According to Radar Online, Twila has been around for some time, and she and her father have had an on and off relationship for years. This development meant that the emotional reunion that fans saw on their television screens was all for ratings. The family pretended to have never met Twila, but they most certainly know all about her.
Sources: Ranker, Radar Online, In Touch Weekly, ABC News, Inquisitr