‘Alaskan Bush People’ Christmas Special: ‘Home Away for the Holidays’ (RECAP)


On the Alaskan Bush People 2017 Christmas special “Home Away for the Holidays” (Dec. 15), while the Browns anxiously await rebuilding in the Lower 48, they get into the Christmas spirit with a special surprise for mother Ami.

You may dread having to spend Christmas with your family, but things could be much worse. You could be spending Christmas with the Browns.


The best thing I can write about the third Alaskan Bush People Christmas Bushmas special, “Home Away for the Holidays,” is that it is not nearly as depressing as I expected it to be. So let’s put a Santa hat on this turd and celebrate!

Bushmas is the Brown family tradition of celebrating Christmas in late October or early November by engaging in generations-old customs that they just thought of yesterday for the benefit of viewers who can’t go six months without watching the Browns say new stuff about scenes they shot four years ago.

This Bushmas is different, however, as the Brown family has been marooned in Los Angeles for 14 months while Mother Ami continues her treatments for advanced-stage cancer. This gives the Browns lots of opportunities to convolutedly tell us, like, how literally everything that they’ve known about Christmas their whole entire lives is EXXXXTREMELY different in Southern California. Like, did you know that Alaskan Santa Claus has antlers?

[DIGRESSION! Note Birdy’s Ugly Christmas Sweater. The whole Ugly Christmas Sweater thing has run its course. We have come to the point where stores are selling brand-new Ugly Christmas Sweaters, and this cheapens the joy that authentic, vintage ’80s Ugly Christmas Sweaters provide. Back in my day, we wore the Ugly Christmas Sweater and loved it without irony! The magic of Christmas is gone forever.]

The Brown kids that bothered to be on this Bushmas special—much more on that later—decide that they want to do something special for Mother Ami, since it’s been a rough year what with the cancer and all and they have no idea if it will be her last Bushmas. They really want to surprise her in a way that fits the show’s budget and the production crew’s limited holiday decorating talents. First step: They must find the perfect Bushmas tree!

The Browns are lucky they got to the trees before the wildfires did. Birdy, Rainy, Bear and Bam take their spiffy SUV and drive about 65 miles west from their Beverly Hills abode to Christmas Conifers in Bloomington, Calif. They arrive safely, thanks to Bam’s defensive driving.

Christmas Conifers’ Facebook page has a slight typo for those people specifically looking for “chrsistmastrees” and the link to their website is broken. The farm itself is cute and includes plywood cutouts of snowfolks to provide the illusion that you’re in a winter wonderland and not in a 97-degree arid blast furnace.


The Browns are in awe that Bushmas trees can be farmed through annual planting and harvesting. In Alaska, you just step out of your cave and chop down the first tree that tastes good to you.

Except for that one year Noah claimed that the family celebrated around a painting of a Bushmas tree.

The Browns run around the tree farm like 6-year-olds playing hide and seek, and Birdy whines about how hot it is. It may have something to do with being overdressed and wearing a freakin’ Santa hat.

At least she maintained some dignity and didn’t douse herself like last time. This Bushmas tree hunt quickly grows tiresome, until Rainy out of nowhere says, “It’s a shame Matt’s not feeling well, ’cause he would’ve loved this.” Matt’s “not feeling well,” eh? How did he almost kill himself this time?

Oh, Good Lord. You’ve delivered some rich B.S. over the years, but this is one of your weakest efforts ever, Billy. Matt has the “downright flu” and can’t appear in the Bushmas special? Dude nearly blasted his head off last season, but now he can’t show up to film today because of the downright flu? I was not aware that Billy Brown Syndrome was contagious. Seems like L.A. has turned the tough, hardy Alaskan Bush boy into a soft, foppish milksop. Kenny would be terribly disappointed. Since Matt’s not going to participate in the Bushmas festivities, let’s make fun of him. Here’s Matt putting an ax blade through his Santa hat. Good thing he remembered to take it off his head before chopping it this time!

And here’s Matt festooning himself with aluminum foil, since enveloping his head with plastic wrap didn’t work out too well the first few times he tried it.

Noah also decided he couldn’t take time out of his busy schedule to celebrate what could be Mother Ami’s final Bushmas. What could be more important than Bushmas with Mother Ami?

BWAHAHAHAHAH! Noah is “about three states away” with “this lady.” (In Billy’s defense, I think he actually said “his lady.”) I like that Billy won’t even mention Rhain Alisha by name, like she’s Voldemort or something. I can’t wait for all the shade Billy will throw at her when she appears in the new season. Rhain will be the Brown family’s piñata. It will be GLORIOUS! I am also eager to watch the Browns continue to make fun of Noah for his ambitions of becoming Sheriff Andy Taylor.

And where’s Gabey? We know that Gabe has taken Mother Ami’s illness very hard, and he clearly wants build a pillow fort in his room and hide away in it for the remainder of this series. I commend Gabe for having the good sense to hop off this rickety merry-go-round of a TV show. Gabe’s appearances are now limited to opening doors and pushing wheelchairs, which makes him the hardest working of all the Browns. Poor Gabe. He really appears to have let himself go, appearance-wise. Hang in there, chief.

Now back to the Browns who didn’t have a good enough excuse to get out of the Bushmas special. After a long…long…tedious search, they finally settle on a Bushmas tree, and Rainy gets the honor of sawing it down. Finally, we can get on to BLOWING STUFF UP!

Given this family’s history and misuse of the word “literally,” I am literally expecting someone to blast their fancy Beverly Hills rental house into a pile of smoldering toothpicks. At Beverly Hills Brownton Abbey, Bear drapes himself in cheap tinsel and garlands and parades around the kitchen while the others try to prepare dinner from unidentified aluminum cans.

Health codes? When has a Brown ever been concerned with health codes? Or building codes? Or electrical codes? Or moral codes? I could go on. But the best comeback belongs to Bear.

SICK BURN, BRO! My 7-year-old son is definitely going to borrow that one.

Say, Birdy, what dish are you preparing for Bushmas dinner? And is there an unnecessarily long story about it that will eat up 10 minutes of screen time?

Ah, very good. Am I to assume correctly that Bear will use conventional kitchen utensils like an adult human?

Ugh. Here’s where the show breaks from pointless discussions of heirloom pasta to even more pointless character studies.

Let’s start with Bear. (Yes, we have to.) Bear’s AWESOME and EXXXXTREME act was already tired back when he was punching fish in Alaska. In L.A., it’s just sad. Bear has resorted to borrowing clothes from Noah. With his bad facial hair, purple silk shirt and all the bling, I’m tempted to call him out for appropriating pimp culture. It’s like Bear and Prince mixed up their orders from the Nordstrom boys department.

Even if it means dressing like Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s stand-in on Boogie Nights.

Bam has more important things to do, but he came back for some Bushmas action anyway. I’m actually disappointed that he did, though. I thought he was going to bail on the show for good two seasons ago when he embarked on the Great Lower 48 Sexytime Tour with Allison. I realize that preaching the Respect the Danger™ philosophy on TV can be difficult to give up cold turkey. We all know about Bam’s respect of danger, but did you know that Bam’s wet-towel personality earned him the nickname “Humbug”? Do you care? No, you do not.

Rainy, more formally Merry Christmas Kathryn Raindrop Brown, is a curious case. Rainy’s now 15—the age at which her mother married Billy—and she has all the self-absorbed awkwardness of a typical teenager. Unlike a typical teenager, Rainy’s been the child star of The Billy Brown Bush Family Comedy/Variety Hour since she was 9. It has clearly gone to her head. Since discovering Instagram (I am not linking to any of Rainy’s social media accounts), she’s built a loyal following of elderly shut-ins and European perverts. Rainy’s demonstrated poor decorum and judgment on several occasions, and has deleted some of her posts. Her latest gaffe came last week when a pic of her pretentious avocado toast meal from Panera also included her brother Matt’s phone number. As you’d expect, it sucks to be Matt. I think Rainy’s worst offense was posting this selfie in which she could hardly contain her excitement about being in a magazine article about her mother’s cancer.

I was fairly indifferent about Rainy in the past, and I usually gave her leniency because she’s a minor and she’s going through a rough time. Now I find her insufferable. But if you listen to her family, Rainy has grown and matured into a magical celestial being of pure light and energy.

Yet Raindrop the Wise thinks she can saw through the trunk of a Bushmas tree with a vegetable peeler.

All of this nonsense has just been a warmup for the main attraction of the Bushmas special, which is the update on Mother Ami’s medical condition. We find Billy and Mother Ami at UCLA for an appointment with Dr. Deborah Wong. Mother Ami is up to 102.2 pounds, which is excellent news. Then there’s a bunch of vaguely optimistic, awkwardly disjointed conversation. Billy says something about Mother Ami’s lungs being “clear” and Dr. Wong says something about the hardest part being over.


No. At no point did I hear anything like that. I heard no “cure” or “remission” or any such indication that Mother Ami has beaten Stage 4 cancer. Billy saying that Mother Ami’s lungs are clear could mean they’re free of fluid, infection, motor oil, lobsters or anything else that’s not supposed to be in them. Many of the “Praying for Mother Ami” crowd have run away with the notion that she has been miraculously cured. While I wish and hope that were true, I and some very reliable sources do not believe that it is. This scene appears to be heavily edited for maximum optimism. They’re not going to give us any bad health news at Bushmastime.

Back at Beverly Hills Brownton Abbey, Bam, Bear, Rainy and Birdy anxiously await the arrival of Billy and Mother Ami for the big surprise. Bear, freak that he is, imagines that he’s hunting his parents.

Billy and Mother Ami arrive, and we’re finally going to get the big reveal. We all know what an inconsiderate ass Billy is, but if you needed any more proof, here’s Billy grabbing his frail wife by the face and almost letting her stumble down the steps.

SURPRISE! Apparently no one in the Brown family or the production crew had the sense to realize this was a bad idea. Why did Bam not intervene in this obvious display of disrespectfulness for the danger?

The production crew did quite a nice job with the Bushmas decorations. The oranges on the dinner table are a nice touch. If this were The Godfather, someone would soon be sleeping with the fishes. I haven’t seen anything as festive as this since Martha Stewart’s topless Christmas special.

And then the family sits down to their Bushmas dinner of oranges, fried chicken and possibly some potato-type substance. But where is all the Brown Family Heirloom Spaghetti? They must’ve tossed it to Cupcake, Gabe and Matt.

So this whole meal is a sham and the oranges are just props for Bear to do something stupid. Even Rainy looks disgusted.

Every ABP episode concludes with Billy’s undaunted Bush dream spiel. The producers seem to have forgotten this, so they just recycled one from last season.

Blah. It’s time to let this thing go, Billy. You’ve already accomplished your dream. You a got a production company and a major cable TV network to bankroll your Bush family fantasy for the amusement and bemusement of millions for seven-ish seasons. Now you don’t live in Alaska, your wife is ill and half of your kids don’t want to do this farce any more. Stop putting them through this. More importantly, stop putting me through this.

Of course Billy won’t. There are erroneous reports that “Home Away for the Holidays” is the lead-in to a new ABP season. There are no new episodes of ABP listed on Discovery Channel’s Jan. 2018 schedule. There have been recent Brown sightings near Trinidad, Colo., indicating that filming is soon underway, but do not expect a new season premiere until at least late spring 2018. And lot could happen between now and then.

Thanks for joining in on these recaps in 2017. Best wishes for a merry Bushmas Christmas, and a happy, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful 2018.