Alaskan Bush People finally returns for Season 8 this weekend, with excitement surrounding the show at an all-time high.
The hit series has been on hiatus ever since matriarch Ami’s cancer diagnosis last year.
The Brown family appeared in a one-off Christmas special, but the new season premiere on Sunday is the first time fans will get to see a proper episode of Alaskan Bush People since August 2017.
A lot has happened for the Brown family since then, with the season taking place as they start a new life in Washington.
Returning to the wild with the rest of the family is Ami, who in December was given the good news that her cancer was in remission following a gruelling year-long battle with the disease.
As the Browns celebrated son Noah’s wedding to new wife Rhain on Wednesday, Monsters and Critics caught up with the family for their most in-depth interview ahead of Season 8!
Monsters and Critics: We are such fans of your show, and have been for such a long time. I’m going to start out by asking, Ami, how are you doing? We were so sorry and obviously very worried about your health last year. How are you doing now?
Ami: Thank you for asking, I’m doing very well. I’m feeling very good, I’ve gained most of my weight back, I’m getting my hair back and it came back in curly! Billy calls me his little sheepdog.
I do still get tired. The other day we were filming one of our final scenes down in the meadows, it’s kind of at an incline to get down to it, and on the way walking back I got tired really quickly.
Billy had to get me a car so I didn’t have to walk all the way. But I feel very well, thank you for asking.
Billy: It wasn’t an incline, it was a hill.
Ami: That’s the most walking uphill I’ve done in a long time!
Monsters and Critics: Last year must have been quite scary for you, Billy. I’m sure Ami is your best friend as well as your wife, and that’s a hard thing to go through, to face that kind of…almost a mortality issue. How did you handle it?
Billy: I didn’t handle it very well, I just clung on to her to be honest with you. It’s just…sitting here watching the thing you love the most withering away, literally, yeah it sucks.
If it wasn’t for the Good Lord I don’t think I’d still be breathing right now, but as a matter of fact the doctor came in one day and Ami was laying on the bed, and I was laying over her, and I heard her say, “Oh how sweet, look, he’s giving her comfort and making her strong.”
But I had fallen over her and was just hanging on to her. I didn’t take it real well.
Monsters and Critics: This question is for all of you. You guys have found a new home in Washington — why did you decide not to return to Alaska, and how does Washington compare for you?
Billy: We didn’t really have much choice in how we decided. The doctors were quite emphatic that we couldn’t go back there, it was just too hard to get her to…to set up something she would need if something happened, and we also have to go in every three months now to get CAT scans and CT scans.
It’s just too risky now. We really couldn’t. I guess it was just time, you know, the Good Lord, it was just time…you wouldn’t believe what he gave us. We thought everything was gone. But you have a little bit of faith…he gave us more than we could ever imagine, we could not have ordered it in a dream and it have been better than what he had given us. It’s just a brand new world.
Ami: I do want to add, too, that when we were telling the kids about it, they had already talked about it and told us that they weren’t going to let us go back, that we had to stay down here.
Bear: The doc was saying how hard it was on Mom and everything. We all figured that it was just time, and the best thing to do, because if we were waiting until Mom was healed up to move back…it seems like one thing that may never happen and she would be constantly waiting.
So instead we decided to go ahead and to move out so we can continue living, because Alaska will always be home to me, personally, and to all of us, but family is more important and Mom just can’t live up there anymore.
So we just came down and found the best piece of property we could. I was actually glad, though, because I was beginning to worry that everywhere in the lower forty-eight was like LA — nothing but buildings and people and all. We were ecstatic to be able to find that piece of property, that actually has some trees on it.
Billy: It really surprised us, because it’s wonderful what we’ve got. The people down here, it’s a lot like Alaska to be honest with you. People’s attitudes and all, critters that we’ve never heard of.
Gabe: Yeah, on the not going back to Alaska thing, when Mom collapsed over last Thanksgiving and we had to emergency rush her into the hospital, that’s around when the doctors were saying that if something like that happens and we live where we normally do, you’re not going to have your mother, my dad’s not going to have his wife.
So it really wasn’t an option, but where we are now is really cool, it’s a really nice piece of land, it’s very majestic. A lot of game, which is something we all look for, and we have something here that we’ve never really had before — there’s a lot of opportunity to do lots of sustainable living kind of things, that aren’t an option in Alaska. So, I don’t know, I think it might be a blessing in disguise.
Billy: Hey, you ought to see it, it’s gotten all of our faith back in America. The people we live around, they’re just the backbone of America. They have porches, they make their own hay, they’ve all their cattle. It’s not some small…I mean, this is passed down to the grandkids and all.
Gabe: Well, your neighbors are your neighbors here. Which is how it is in Alaska, but they’re just further away.
Billy: And we’re all still Americans, bro.
Monsters and Critics: That’s great. Now, judging by the trailer, you’re building a ranch. How far along are you and how big is it? Can you describe it?
Billy: We have almost 500 acres, we’ve got the top of a mountain, and we’re seven miles from the road and the closest person. So when we get home, it’s not like we’re down south, it’s fantastic. And, well, someone go ahead and tell them what we’ve got.
Bear: No spoilers!
Billy: Well, we’re trying to catch some opportunities, some I never thought we would have. Because I grew up with horses, I am a Texan, and it’s so funny because it’s been such a while for her and I both, but now all of a sudden we’re looking for livestock. We’re talking horses…
Ami: And wearing cowboy boots.
Billy: Yeah, I went from Davy Crockett to John Wayne and I’m loving it.
Monsters and Critics: Are they going to rename this show Washington Bush People?
Billy: That I don’t know, you’d have to talk to somebody higher up the pay-scale than me.
Bear: No way, I’ll be an Alaskan no matter where I am.
Billy: That’s true, Alaska’s in our heart, it’s just what we are. There’s Alaska in Washington, we found out.
Gabe: There’s Alaska everywhere that we are.
Ami: There’s definitely not a rainforest anymore.
Monsters and Critics: This is a question for the kids. How have you coped with all of the moving? I mean, obviously it sounds like you really like Washington.
Bear: The moving is one thing that I’m actually used to after growing up on a fishing boat, we were always pulling into new harbors and bays. But I just hate having to pop back into the cities as quick as we’ve been doing it. It just seems like I haven’t gotten to get too much peace and quiet.
But as for coping with it…I just look forward to the time where I’m in the woods. I don’t really think too much about what’s going on, I just try to look out for everyone around me.
Gabe: I think we’re all so adventurous that we just kind of embrace the newness of everything, and in Washington we’re still in the woods and stuff so it’s still the same kind of topography and things that we like.
I think that helps, and Birdie…I know that she likes how many critters there are here. But all the guys and the sisters and I we all, just, we like how much like home it is.
It’s a good place where we can all still be a family, doing the kind of things that we like to do.
Ami: Yes, it is a truly beautiful world.
Monsters and Critics: You’re at Noah’s wedding as we speak, in Coeur d’Alene [Idaho]…it’s gorgeous up there. Can you give the fans a little taste of how big the wedding is, and if there’s any little details that you can share?
Billy: We honestly don’t know, Noah has kept everything in the dark. We basically know where it is, and he wanted everybody fancied up.
Ami: Actually, they just got their formal clothes. We had just finished filming and we didn’t have time to come get their suits and stuff.
Billy: And we look good!
Ami: Yeah, they look very sharp, very sharp. And I guess that, I think it’s going to be…it’s not going to be overly large. I am looking forward to it, and I do wish them years and years of happiness.
Monsters and Critics: What’s your favorite part of this coming season that you can tease for the fans? What we can look forward to?
Ami: I don’t know, because it was all so good this season. Every moment of it was wonderful.
Billy: Yeah, you’ve got to understand, we thought this would never happen. We thought all of this was over.
Then, all of a sudden, we’re in a brand new woods, everything’s shiny. It’s kind of the same because it’s still a forest, but it’s different. It’s just, the best part was when we first got there and jumped out. We’ve still got places we haven’t seen.
Ami: When we first got there I was so exhilarated, we were all laughing. It was hard, but I was so happy and laughing that I wore myself out. I was exhausted.
Billy: Finally, once again, we’re in a place where what we can do and how far we go with it, it’s up to us, it’s in our hands.
Ami: That’s right.
Billy: And how strong we are.
Gabe: I would say that it’s just very fun. We had a lot of fun. Every time where they were filming us, we were just having a lot of fun. It’s a lot of hard work as always, but also a lot of fun. Especially coming out of what we’d just gone through, I think everybody just laughed a little bit easier this year.
Monsters and Critics: I’ve got one question for Gabe, which also concerns Rain. You guys are on social media a lot, how do you keep from absorbing anything negative? I mean people put good stuff up there, and they put bad stuff. How do you manage that?
Gabe: Well, I guess it’s just the old saying, everybody’s entitled to their opinion. There are just some people out there who have probably had bad things happen, or they’re having a bad day, and so they’re kind of like venting. I just don’t take it personal.
Monsters and Critics: Bird, how has it been for you? You’ve really been through the ringer, with your mom’s illness and moving to the new home. What can you share with us?
Bird: We have been through quite a bit, especially in the past year. To be honest, I’m just thankful to have somewhere that’s not in the city and to have my mom, we’re all together. I’m just glad that we have somewhere together, and we get to build a new home, even if it’s not in Alaska.
Alaskan Bush People Season 8 premieres this Sunday, August 19, at 9pm ET on Discovery. Viewers can also catch up or stream episodes on the Discovery Go app.