The newest Alaska: The Last Frontier update brings a swell of potential bad news that threatens to carry the oft-beloved Discovery program away with it, thanks to a general and growing backlash against Alaska-based reality television shows. Though the Kilcher family has received a fair amount of good news lately (mostly in the form of Eve and Eivin’s brand-new baby Sparrow Rose!), the backlash, combined with the rumored departure of fan-favorites Shane and Kelli Kilcher should there be an Alaska: The Last Frontier Season Six, has left something of a sour taste in the mouths of viewers hoping for a positive Alaska: The Last Frontier update.
According to noted entertainment website Cinemablend, no fewer than twenty (20) reality television programs are currently both set and filming in the state of Alaska. They include genre heavyweights like Alaska: The Last Frontier, Alaskan Bush People, Bearing Sea Gold, Deadliest Catch, and Gold Rush, all on Discovery, along with History Channel’s Ice Road Truckers. But there’s also recently defunct shows like Ultimate Survival: Alaska and Slednecks to consider; Outdoor Channel’s Limitless with Theresa Vail, and Sportsman Channel’s Syndicate Hunting; and TLC’s much-maligned Escaping Alaska and Alaskan Women Looking For Love, which was a real thing that happened.
An Al Jazeera America exposé cites low production costs, a post-Deadliest Catch tax credit passed by the state, and the extraordinary abundance of open space as the primary reasons for the filming boom. The result has been a glut of programming, much of which falls into two “predictable” categories: fish-out-of-water shows, in which Alaskans move to other locales; or rough-and-tumble, homesteader-type shows.
The Kilchers’ program falls into the latter category, which is the reason for the current Alaska: The Last Frontier update. According to Emily Fehrenbacher, columnist for Alaska Dispatch News, it’s a potential perceived lack of authenticity that threatens the show. “Lots of Alaskans,” says Fehrenbacher, “know that the Kilcher homestead is a short drive from the town of Homer. [The family] can just drive to Safeway and get some fried chicken. They are OK.”
In addition, a recent and prominent editorial in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner disparaged what it called the “disrespect” the shows often have for the last frontier itself. It cites the numerous occasions of Alaskan Bush People stars breaking the state’s laws, and wonders whether the benefits of Alaskan-based reality programming, including tax revenue and exposure in the Lower 48, are worth their costs:
Not only have the reality-show portraits of Alaska largely not jibed with residents’ experiences here, the stars have had more than their fair share of trouble with the law….The oversimplifications and distortions of reality shows have rubbed many residents the wrong way….It’s one thing for TV shows to ratchet up drama for ratings and distort the realities of life in Alaska to snare viewers….But it shouldn’t be too much to ask for those attached to Alaska-based reality shows to abide by state and federal laws. If they can’t meet that bar, Alaskans will be right to ask whether any benefit derived from the shows’ presence is worth the disrespect for the Last Frontier that appears to come with it.
To that end, the Kilcher family has been laying fairly low since last Sunday’s season-concluding Alaska: The Last Frontier update. Homestead-wise, Nikos Kilcher shared a brand-new Alaska: The Last Frontier update via his Instagram feed; it’s one of several he’s managed over the past few months:
Our wee village in the making. A photo posted by Nikos Kilcher (@nikosious) on
Busy couple of days. 3 interior doors. Trim. Toe board. Door handles. And the other copper pipe shelf in the kitchen. Wiring is also mostly done. A photo posted by Nikos Kilcher (@nikosious) on
Alpine glow cedar. A photo posted by Nikos Kilcher (@nikosious) on
Still working on the siding. The view is completely finished though. A photo posted by Nikos Kilcher (@nikosious) on
Meanwhile, Shane Kilcher eased fans’ concerns about the recent earthquake by sharing his own Alaska: The Last Frontier update, on he and wife Kelli’s brand-new Facebook page:
And Otto Kilcher, who just this week became the newest Kilcher on Instagram, reminded everyone–with the third family-based Alaska: The Last Frontier update in a week!–that there’s always a bright side to be found:
Discovery has yet to make an Alaska: The Last Frontier update regarding ATLF Season Six. For now, you can catch reruns of the show on Sunday nights at 9 PM EST.
(Photo credits: Alaska: The Last Frontier update via Instagram)