Experience the Authenticity of Alaska Life through These 11 TV Shows
Experience the extreme nature of life in Alaska, where temperatures and wildlife encounters can be extreme, and the lifestyles are often equally so. It is no wonder that Alaska has become a hub for reality TV programs. While many of the top TV shows are set in Alaska, there is one exception that stands out from the rest. Dive into the world of Alaskan life from your TV screen with these eleven shows. You might have to decide for yourself just how "real" they are, but they certainly highlight the diverse cast of characters, professions, and lifestyles that can be found in Alaska's Last Frontier.
Northern ExposureComedy – Genre1990-95 – YearsDVD – Where to Watch
Notable Cast Members: John Corbett, Rob Morrow, and Barry Corbin Filmed In: Washington state Setting: The fictional town of Cicely, AK
In the '90s, Northern Exposure gave viewers a glimpse into life in Alaska with its Emmy-winning quirky, small-town portrayal of Cicely, a fictional Alaskan town. Although the show was filmed entirely in Washington, it launched many of the stars to future fame and remains an example of the Alaska-set genre. The show is not available to stream due to a conflict over music royalties, but you can still watch it on DVD.
Deadliest CatchReality – Genre2005- – YearsDiscovery – Where to Watch
Notable Cast Members: Boat captains Sig Hansen, “Wild” Bill Wichrowski, and Phil Harris Filmed In: Bering Sea & Dutch Harbor, AK Setting: Bering Sea & Dutch Harbor, AK
Deadliest Catch, the show that started it all, has inspired a generation of hopefuls to try their luck as crab fishermen in Alaska. Documenting the ups and downs, adventures, and misfortunes of Alaskan crab fishermen during the crabbing seasons, the show has survived and thrived for 18 seasons and counting.
Alaska: The Last FrontierReality – Genre2011- – YearsDiscovery – Where to Watch
Notable Cast Members: Four generations of the homesteading Kilcher family Filmed In: Outside Homer, AK Setting: Outside Homer, AK
The Kilcher family, originally known for Jewel Kilcher, the singer-songwriter, have become stars in their own right. This show documents their lives as they live off the land on their 600-acre plot outside of Homer, Alaska, and face the harsh realities of living in Alaska.
Life Below ZeroDocumentary – Genre2013- – YearsNatGeo – Where to Watch
Notable Cast Members: Real Alaska residents scattered around the state Filmed In: Fairbanks, Noorvik, Eagle, Kiwalik, Nenana, and Wiseman, AK—among other locations Setting: Remote Alaska
Life Below Zero follows the lives of real Alaskans scattered across the state who live in the remote areas and experience the highs and lows of Alaska living. In 2002, the show spun off a new series named Life Below Zero: First Alaskans, which follows several families of Alaska Natives as they continue the traditional techniques and methods of survival passed down through generations.
Alaskan Bush People: A Unique Perspective on Off-The-Grid LivingReality Genre Show That Has Aired Since 2014Currently Available on Discovery Channel
Well-Known Cast Members: Billy and Ami Brown, along with their seven children Scenery: Filmed in Hoonah, AK and Palmer Lake, WA Setting: Showcases the off-grid lifestyle of the Brown family as they navigate the ups and downs of living in rural Alaska. With twists and turns such as moving to Washington state and the recent passing of Billy Brown, the patriarch of the family, Alaskan Bush People offers an unorthodox perspective on life in the bush. While it has been critiqued for its exaggeration of reality, the show remains a fan favorite.
Bering Sea Gold: The Thrilling Quest for Gold on the Bering Sea FloorA Reality Genre Show That Debuted In 2012Current Seasons Are Available to Stream on Discovery Channel
Diverse Cast Members: A variety of individuals searching for gold underwater Scenery: Filmed in Nome, AK Setting: Bering Sea Gold documents the challenging quest of gold hunters who dredge, sluice, and dive into the depths of the sea. This show is similar to Deadliest Catch in themes of high-seas drama, though the focus is on the hunt for gold.
The Last Alaskans: A Realistic Depiction Of Alaskan Wilderness LifeA Show That Aired From 2015-2019Currently Available on Discovery Channel
Diverse Cast Members: Multiple Alaskans living the remote wilderness lifestyle Scenery: Filmed in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, AK Setting: The Last Alaskans explores the lives of the few inhabitants of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in rural Alaska. Unlike other reality shows based in Alaska, this series is recognized for its authenticity and realistic portrayal of life in the bush.
Ice Road Truckers: A High-Stakes Reality Show Set In The Canadian And Alaskan WildernessA Reality Genre Show That Aired From 2007-2017 on History ChannelAvailable to Stream on Various Platforms
Courageous Cast Members: Truck drivers tackling hazardous winter roads Scenery: Filmed in Canada and Dalton Highway, AK Setting: Ice Road Truckers takes viewers on an adrenaline-fueled journey through some of the most dangerous roads in the world. The show follows truckers as they navigate icy roads in northern Alaska and remote parts of Canada. If you're interested in driving to Alaska, don't miss our article on safely transporting your vehicle.
Yukon Men: Revealing The Everyday Lives Of Interior AlaskansA Reality Genre Show That Aired On Discovery Channel From 2012-2017Currently Available to Stream Online
Unique Cast Members: A group of resilient men living in the isolated village of Tanana Scenery: Filmed in Tanana, AK Setting: Yukon Men delves into the lives of outdoorsmen who reside in the remote Alaskan village of Tanana. The show captures the daily routines of the inhabitants as they fish, hunt, trap, and train sled dogs. Although the show concluded after seven seasons, it remains available to stream online.
Alaska State Troopers: A Reality Genre Show
Where to Watch: NatGeo
Notable characters: Various troopers from all over the state
Filmed in: Anchorage, Palmer, Soldotna, Wasilla, and other locations
Setting: Alaska State Troopers brings to life the dangerous and unpredictable job of being a state trooper in Alaska. With missions ranging from search and rescue to confrontations with aggressive animals and extreme weather, it's a thrilling ride. Despite its growing popularity, the series was discontinued after a few years at the request of the Department of Public Safety, which wanted to prioritize its primary responsibility of ensuring public safety.
Sarah Palin’s Alaska: A Reality Genre Show
Where to Watch: Purchase
Notable characters: Sarah, Todd, and Bristol Palin
Filmed in: Wasilla, among other locations in Alaska
Setting: Sarah Palin's Alaska gives a rare inside look into the adventurous life of former Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin and her family. From hunting caribou to catching salmon, the show offers a glimpse into the Palins' daily activities. Though it was canceled after one season, the show's popularity maintains, and there is a chance of its relaunch as Palin plans for a Senatorial race.
Life (as Television Sees It) in Alaska
While nothing beats living and experiencing Alaska in person, you can catch a glimpse of Alaska's diverse culture and beauty via these television shows.
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