Alaskan Bush People on Discovery follows the Brown family as they live a back-to-basics life in the bush.
For the first seven seasons, the show chronicled their day-to-day life at their homestead in the Alaskan wilderness.
This year, as documented on the newest season of the show, the Brown family have relocated to Washington to set up a new home.
It comes after the family left Alaska last year so family matriarch Ami could receive treatment in California as she battled cancer.
The Browns are absolutely adored by fans, but there are critics as well — who say the family are duping viewers because they don’t actually live in the wilderness all the time.
So what about the show is real, and what has led some people to call it fake?
By all accounts, Alaskan Bush People is real for the most part. The family have lived in the wilderness for much of their lives. However, the ambiguity comes in because they haven’t spent ALL their time living in the bush.
Critics had a field day when it emerged that the Brown family had faced legal issues a few years ago.
Billy Brown and his son Joshua — known as Bam Bam on the show — both got sentenced to jail time in 2016 after lying on their Alaskan Permanent Fund Dividend forms by saying that they lived in Alaska from 2009 to 2012.
The fund gives payouts — sometimes as high as $2,000 per person — to state residents who have lived in Alaska for a whole calendar year and who plan to stay there for the foreseeable future.
However, from 2009 to 2012, they were said to have actually been living in Seattle while Billy tried to sell his book One Wave at a Time. The autobiography tells the story of Billy’s life, from how he was orphaned at the age of 16 to how he and his family ended up living in the Alaskan wilderness.
The years that Billy and Bam Bam lied on their Permanent Fund forms took place before the Browns started filming Alaskan Bush People.
However, the show later revealed how Billy would still sometimes travel to Seattle to get treatment for a seizure-related condition, meaning he wasn’t living in the bush all the time.
Billy and Bam Bam entered a guilty plea in the Permanent Fund case in 2015. A plea deal meant none of the other family members were implicated, and both men were sentenced to 30 days in jail.
However, they eventually ended up avoiding time behind bars, instead having to wear ankle monitors for 30 days.
The pair also had to repay the state $20,938, serve two years of probation, and carry out 40 hours of community service.
Aside from the above case, other criticisms mounted at the family include claims made by two locals that they used to spend time staying in a lodge in Hoonah, Alaska, between filming Alaskan Bush People. However, no in-depth details were given about lengths of stays
It’s also claimed that the series is scripted in some capacity. This is usual for documentary reality shows, however, to provide viewers with a coherent storyline.
While the family may not have spent their entire time living in the bush, the main thrust of what takes place on the show — and the Browns’ love of the wilderness — is evidently real.
Alaskan Bush People airs on Sundays at 9/8c on Discovery Channel.
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