In this day and age, it can be hard to fathom that there are still people homesteading, living off the labors of their land, and leading a truly pioneering lifestyle. But if the Discovery Channel is to be believed, Alaskan Bush People are doing these things and doing them well. There's just one problem: plenty of evidence suggests that Alaskan Bush People is fake.
Over the course of the show's seven seasons, rumors of the truth about Alaskan Bush People have slowly leaked. Sources range from people who work on the series to Alaska locals who know the Brown family, and some of the information comes directly from public records. Wherever it originates, there is more than a little support for the idea that Alaskan Bush People behind the scenes is quite different from how it comes off in front of the camera. And if it's staged, it may actually be one of the weirdest reality shows on televison.
So, is Alaskan Bush People fake? Read on below to learn more about Ami Brown, Bam Bam and the rest of the cast and show to decide for yourself.
On first glance, you'd think the Brown family were dyed-in-the-wool Alaskans: true bush people who intimately know the land and how to live on it. But the Browns aren't really from Alaska at all. In fact, they're relative newcomers to The Last Frontier. Although dad Billy and mom Ami arrived with their kids in the '80s, they don't have generational ties to the land. Billy grew up as a wealthy Texan whose parents were killed in a plane crash when he was in his teens.
After some time in Alaska they moved their family back to the continental US but returned to Alaska four years later to film an autobiographical documentary which turned into the Discovery show. However, Billy kept legal residency in Colorado and Texas, which later led the family to face fines and jail time for illegally sport fishing without a license.
Bear? Bam Bam? Birdy? Those wacky Browns -- giving their kids such outlandish names to match their wild lifestyle in the bush! Umm...not so fast. Those are nicknames. Bear's real name is Solomon, Bam Bam's real name is Joshua, and Birdy is named after mother Ami (Amora).
Once you know the truth, it's not quite so exotic anymore.
In 2007, patriarch Billy Brown wrote a memoir called One Wave at a Time. There has been a persistent rumor that after the book was published, the Browns tried to promote it and sell the rights to producers. The family then came to Alaska with a film crew in an attempt to recreate the story told in the book.
What was meant to be a one-season documentary series snowballed into Alaskan Bush People.
The Browns likely aren't as self-sufficient as they would have us believe. Billy and Bam Bam were found guilty of filing false information on government forms. They claimed they lived in Alaska from 2009 to 2012 and, based on this information, were given dividend checks for those years--totaling almost $21,000.
The pair tried to strike a plea deal, but the judge wasn't having it. They spent 30 days in jail and were fined.