‘Alaskan Bush People’: ‘Faith & Family’ (RECAP)


In Discovery Channel’s Alaskan Bush People episode “Faith & Family” (June 21), the displaced Browns struggle through a devastating transition while Ami undergoes testing due to recent health concerns. Meanwhile, Browntown is under the care of a lone protector, as Noah braves the dangers of the wilderness to defend the homestead.

“Faith & Family” is the real season premiere, not like last week’s fake season premiere episode that got everyone all angried up. This recap is going to be a quickie (and late), because A) I’m on vacation, and B) this episode is 90 percent flashbacks, exterior shots and people just sitting around being worried or talking about being worried. If there’s anything worse than waiting waiting for your medical test results, it’s watching other people wait around for their medical test results on a cable TV show.

And now, to “Faith & Family.” (Yes, we have to.)

Ami’s in a lot of pain. Billy reassures Ami that the Good Lord will take care of them. He always has.

Billy likes to throw around “faith” and “family” and “the Good Lord” as a smokescreen for all the scammin’ and griftin’ and PFD fraudin’. He sounds like a politician on the campaign trail every time they interview him on camera. Billy says that they got through all their hardships — real or contrived — by trusting in faith, family and the Good Lord, failing to mention the Park Slope and Discovery Channel money has helped a great deal in leading the Faux Bush life.

And then we get a visit from our old friend, the Black Screen of Fake Doom.

The Browns, minus Noah and Bam, are in the Los Angeles area, and have been living there for months, according to Bear. Ami’s been through several rounds of doctor referrals, and now she’s going to UCLA Medical Center to have a biopsy on her lungs to screen for cancer.

But being AWESOME and EXXXXTREME must continue even in SoCal, so Bear rigs up a Bush fountain by overturning some patio furniture and stabbing a garden hose. Later in the episode, Bear brings Ami EXXXXTREME-squeezed fruit juice with her breakfast in bed. Bear picked some citrus fruits (or someone bought them at a nearby Ralph’s), hacked them with a machete, squished them in a garbage bag and watered it all down with the garden hose. I hope Ami gets to tell Bear that he’s her least favorite child before it’s too late.

The second-least-favorite child, Noah, is left behind in Alaska, pretending to protect and defend Brownton Abbey with his very life if need be. We find him walking around the property, poking a big revolver in every door just to make sure there are no bears or Taliban insurgents waiting in ambush. All clear. Noah can go about his daily douchebaggery.

Noah misses his beloved, Rhain, who appears in this episode only in flashback. We’re not told where she is, only that she couldn’t stay in Hoonah and that she’s not moved into Brownton Abbey. In the real world, Noah and Rhain were at an extended stay hotel in Juneau. They’re supposedly getting married in fantastic Dolores, Colo. “The idea is that eventually she wants a big banquet though at her dream house that I’m going to build her some day,” Noah says in barely intelligible English. Noah and Rhain creep me out. The more I think about it, they’re perfect for each other. I wish them a lifetime of weirdness together.

In the hour or so that Noah spent with the film crew in Brownton Abbey, he also blew a horn, pretended that his electrified fence works, made a jewelry box out of a clam shell and laundered his other shirt in a plastic tub that Kenny probably used to clean up after Sabrina. Back to Juneau with you, Noah.

Oh, look! Billy and Ami’s old friends, Bill and Margaret Fuller, have come to Los Angeles to show their support and be on TV again. “You know you’re always on our minds,” Bill says. But where is Cousin Cody? I’ll bet he thought he had more important things to do today. Heh.

The production crew is granted unusual access to the medical facility, and real hospital staff and physicians appear on camera. Usually when the Browns have a medical incident, all we get are a few exterior shots of them standing outside a hospital and someone sitting in a nondescript bedroom. Ami undergoes a procedure called bronchoscopy with transbronchial biopsy. It’s a long tube with a camera and tissue-collection tools that gets inserted down the trachea. We get to see more pictures from inside Ami than I ever cared to see.

Ami should have the lab results in a few business days, which means we get to see a lot more of nothing. We find the Browns trying to adapt their typical Bush act to Southern California. Bear explodes a laundry/dishwashing detergent pod with an EXXXXTREME! punch. Take that, stupid soap! Matt makes a lame archery set to shoot cardboard boxes at close range. Take that, stupid cardboard box! Birdy pesters a peacock, who wants nothing to do with her. Take that, stupid Birdy!

The peacock won’t talk to Birdy, so she settles on talking with Matt. They discuss the “C” word and the sudden realization that their mother is not invincible. Matt looks like hell.

I wish we could just skip to the part where Matt almost blows himself up.

It’s finally time to go for the test results. “I think [Ami] feels like almost all of us, let’s just get this done and get this over with,” says Billy. I say that every time I sit down to watch this show.

The previews of next week give us some idea of what the results are, and they are not good.

In case I needed to clarify my position on cancer: Cancer sucks. There’s nothing funny about cancer. Odds are pretty good that you’ve either fought the disease yourself, have a loved one fighting the disease, or lost someone close to you because of the disease. We’re not going to make light of Ami’s illness.

BUT … since this show has fabricated so much over the years, one can’t be blamed for sniffing something foul in the air produced by the noxious mix of the Browns, Park Slope and Discovery. Many commenters on Alaskan Bush People Exposed suspect that Ami’s not as sick as we’re being led to believe, and that this whole thing is being exploited for TV ratings. Even some diehard fans have stated that that if Ami’s illness is a ratings ploy, they’re done with this show forever.

This puts both ABP supporters and detractors in a weird spot. If the Good Lord or Park Slope miraculously cure Ami of late-stage lung cancer, then all suspicion of a ratings ploy will be warranted. And if Ami dies…well, that’s not good, either.

I’m rooting for Ratings Ploy. It might kill off this show for good.