Since their show, Alaskan Bush People, premiered in 2014, the Brown family has been advertised by the Discovery Channel as "a family of 9 living deep in the Alaskan Bush. They are unlike any other family in America and have lived wild in the forests of Alaska for decades."
The show has been a ratings success for much of its five-year run. It even hit the No. 1 spot on Sunday night during its Season 8 premiere in 2018 (according to Tv By The Numbers) with 3.4 million viewers. However, the premiere of Season 9 in March 2019 showed a loss of over 2 million viewers and a fall to the 14th spot.
So what's going on? Many are speculating that it's viewers finally starting to realize that the supposedly legitimate show is actually not as straightforward as it appears. As so often proves to be the case with reality TV, there are quite a few things about Alaskan Bush People that are not actually authentic.
More information about the Browns and the inner workings of their show seems to come out each year, but here are 20 of the Strangest Facts About Alaskan Bush People discovered so far.
20 They Were Never That Isolated
This is reality TV, where not everything is necessarily “reality”. Before their recent move to Washington, there were numerous reports of the supposed wilderness family actually living in Hoonah, AK. While Hoonah is a small city with a year-round population of only 760 people (as of the 2010 census), it’s not the bush. It’s also only 30 miles away from the state capital of Juneau.
19 Their Alaska Residency is Questionable
Turns out that the stars of Alaskan Bush People may actually just spend time in Hoonah and the surrounding area filming the show, because they’ve actually been spotted living at rentals in both Los Angeles and Colorado the rest of the time. The family has now officially relocated to Washington.
Which brings us to our next weird fact…
18 Billy and Bam Bam Went to Jail for the Weirdest Reason
Billy Brown and his son, Bam Bam (real name Joshua), spent 30 days in jail back in 2016.
But get this — they received their sentence for lying on Permanent Fund dividend applications, which give out a set amount of money each year from oil drilling to state residents. So what did they lie about? Living in Alaska.
17 The Rest of the Family Could Have Gone to Jail Too
Since it appears the rest of the family members also did not live full-time in Alaska despite saying they did on their Permanent Fund applications, it makes one wonder why only Billy and Bam Bam went to jail.
Well, according to the Anchorage Daily News, that’s because they cut a deal that only involved minimal prosecution.
16 Billy Brown is a Published Author
Turns out the family’s patriarch actually has a couple of books to his name. The first is a novel published in 2007 called One Wave at a Time and follows the story of a teenage boy who has to fend for himself after being orphaned. Then in 2009 came The Lost Years, meant to be a true-life account of Billy's life.
Interestingly, Juneau newspaper the Capital City Weekly has reported that Alaskan Bush People began as an attempt to add authenticity to the books.
15 Billy Might Not Have Built The Family Cabin with ‘His Bare Hands’
Billy Brown, along with the rest of his family clan, has long stipulated that he built the family’s cabin in “Browntown” with his “bare hands”. But social media posts from locals claim that it was they who all pitched in and built the place together.
Interestingly, local reports also say that the cabin no longer exists now that the Browns have moved to the lower 48. Did they strike the set?
14 Bear Brown is Making a Horror Movie
Bear broke the news on IG just several weeks ago that he is working on a horror movie. Though not much was revealed about the movie’s content or how “extreme” it will be, he did say "I've been working really slowly on my own horror movie, it's slowly coming together ... really slowly but it is coming together."
13 Rain Brown Changed Her Name in 2017
Fans may already know that Noah’s wife, Rhain, was named Ruth until she legally changed it in 2017. Interestingly, this was after she had met her future husband, who has a sister named Rain.
The younger Rain has expressed her dislike of the situation, and she even wore all black to their wedding. But the odd thing is that her real name is actually “Merry Christmas Katherine Raindrop Brown.”
12 Noah and Rhain Brown Crowdsourced Their Honeymoon
The stars of Alaskan Bush People make different amounts per episode depending on who they are, but according to Distractify it’s anywhere between $8,000 (the lowest) and upwards of $60,000. Again, that’s PER EPISODE.
So needless to say, it’s a bit confusing why Noah and Rhain Brown decided to reach out to the public and ask for money to fund their honeymoon.
11 The Show Has Cast Professional Actors
Back in season four, Noah Brown dated Karryna Kauffman, a woman he claimed to have met on a beach while visiting other states. But The Channel Guide quickly identified Kauffman as a California-based actress and model.
The show has never confirmed nor denied that Kauffman was cast on purpose. However, her IMDB page shows she hasn’t done much since her appearance.
10 Fans Doubted Ami brown’s Cancer Diagnosis
Matriarch Ami Brown was diagnosed with lung cancer back in 2017 and publicly underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment as a result. She was in remission by early 2018, though some fans took to social media to claim she never had cancer in the first place.
As one person tweeted: “I mean it's ALL FAKE even Ami's cancer scare was scripted.”
The doubt actually became so widespread that Ami’s doctor released a statement saying she did indeed have cancer.
9 Billy Brown Had His Own Health Scare
Ami’s husband had to deal with his own health scare that was not made as public. However, Country Living reported that the show’s representatives had told them Billy Brown had a severe upper respiratory infection. In a since-deleted IG post, Bear Brown also confirmed the news and said that his father was “in real bad shape”.
Fortunately, he seems to have gotten better.
8 There’s Bad Blood Between Billy Brown and His Wife’s Family
Ami Brown’s brother, Les, and mother, Earlene, told Radar Online in 2017 that his sister became estranged from their family thanks to her marriage with Billy.
According to Les and Earlene, Ami left home and dropped out of high school at the mere age of 15 to marry the older Billy (11 years her senior). He has allegedly been very controlling of her ever since.
7 The Family Does Not Have Roots in Alaska
Turns out it’s quite the estrangement with Ami’s family, because her relatives are located in Texas. Both Ami and Billy are also originally from the Lone Star State, which happens to be where they started their family. This directly contradicts the Discovery Channel claim of the family having lived in the Alaskan bush for many decades.
6 They Do Not Come From Humble Origins
Despite claiming humble, simple origins, Ami comes from a normal middle-class family. More interestingly, however, it’s been proven that Billy Brown grew up in rather a wealthy family that, according to Nicki Swift, even had their own private boats and planes. Sadly, his parents died in a plane crash when he was only 16 years old.
5 Noah Brown Once Publicly Called Out His Sister
Inner feuds between the Brown family members have been frequent, especially between the children. For example, Noah (in a since-deleted post) took to FB to call out sister Rain for depending on their parents for everything, from “dinner” to “paying bills”.
He went on to say "Young Raindrop spends her days cuddling bunnies and playing with her dolls not knowing about the stressful lives of the adults around her."
Rain was only 15 years old at the time.
4 Matt Skipped His Brother’s Wedding
It’s not just Rain who’s been having difficulties with her family members, specifically Noah. Matt Brown reportedly skipped Noah’s wedding entirely.
Though the reasons aren’t entirely clear, Radar Online reported that it might have something to do with Matt’s struggles with alcohol and a strained relationship with his father, Billy Brown.
3 The Family May Have Altered Their Appearance for the Show
It’s not uncommon for TV show cast members to change their appearances before filming in order to better fit their roles. But in the case of reality TV, it’s not something that’s talked about.
The Brown children were very active on social media in their pre-fame years, and many fans have noted how different (notably how much blonder) they looked before Alaskan Bush People began.
2 Their Ownership of Browntown May Not Have Been Valid
Though the family openly no longer lives in Browntown, though it was highly disputed whether or not the family actually owned it. Brown even claimed once that he purchased the land in the Tongass National Forest with a “special use permit”.
Nevertheless, it’s practically impossible to purchase National Forest land. Any permits are temporary and do not allow homestead construction.
1 Matt Brown May Not Appear on the Show Again
As many fans have noted, son Matt Brown hasn’t been seen on Alaskan Bush People since Season 8. Sadly, he left the show to deal with his substance problems, and as the family stated in September, he is currently living in California. It is not clear if he will ever move back North to be on the show with his family again.