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36 thoughts I had while watching Alaskan Bush People

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I don’t know what made me do it but somehow late one night I found myself watching Alaskan Bush People. As someone who mainly watches dramas, especially if they include a corset and a forbidden romance, this was a huge segue for me.

The show artwork alone made me curious and raised a lot of questions — mainly about their facial hair, which needs a thorough analysis that I am ready to undertake should it be requested. So you see, I couldn’t not watch. And when I did, I had thoughts — many, many thoughts, and not just about the facial hair.

Alaskan Bush People
The Brown family lives in the wilderness of Alaska in a one bedroom cabin. (Nine)

Here is (almost) everything that went through my mind while watching Alaskan Bush People on 9Now:

1. So the Brown family has to move to a remote part of Alaska because their previous home was on public land and the government kicked them off. They claim the government destroyed their property. They live out in the bush without electricity and running water and live life on their own terms. Already this is wild (and I mean that both literally and figuratively).

2. The footage of them running through the forest is giving me major Twilight vibes.

3. One of the sons is named Bear, this thrills me to no end. Wait, it’s the guy who was just sprinting through the woods and climbing up trees… the name kinda makes sense now, though Tarzan may have been more appropriate.

Alaskan Bush People
Bear claims “extremeness” is his top skill. (Nine)

4. Billy, the dad, is running through a list of things the kids have never done during their off-the-grid lives — go on a rollercoaster, elevator — it’s less enlightening than the guys listing all the celebrities they’ve never heard of. Bam Bam (ummm what?!) thinks Tiger Woods is a State Park in Michigan. I fact checked this on Google just to be sure, because for all I know there could be both a champion golfer and a park named Tiger Woods. Ahhh it is definitely incorrect.

5. Matt is curious when he hears the word iPhone so a producer shows him one. A single glance and he reckons it’s “overrated” — clearly he’s never played Pokémon Go.

Alaskan Bush People
WE might think iPhones are impressive but Matt thinks they’re laughable. (Nine)

6. The facial hair on these men is just phenomenal. How Gabe manages to shape his sideburns — are they still sideburns if they run diagonally across the cheek? — without electrical grooming tools I do not know.

Alaskan Bush People
Gabe’s facial hair is very impressive. (Nine)

7. Oh my, they’re going to build a one room cabin for all nine of them, that sounds awful.

8. Disaster has struck! They’ve blown a tyre on their “franken car”, which has been handed down over generations and rebuilt multiple times. Bear sprints up a steep hill to search for people to help, and it’s revealed his name is actually Solomon. This is a great disappointment, especially when one of his bothers describes him as being “like his own animal”.

9. Bear names “extremeness” as one of his main skills. Not sure that’d be considered a skill but OK.

10. Bear and Matt stay behind with the trailer while the family drives to find a replacement tyre. They have been left with guns because being in the middle of nowhere is dangerous and there is a moose loitering nearby. Matt reveals that a moose’s brain is the size of a walnut — this I must Google. Hmmm Google says a stegosaurus has a walnut-sized brain, no mention of a moose though… eh I’ll look later. Anyway the point is moose are dumb but deadly — noted.

11. Now we find out fun facts about Matt. He’s super outgoing and calls himself an “old fashioned pirate mountain man” and names fishing as his “greatest skill and flaw”. That’s very poetic but confusing and possibly an oxymoron. Side note: Matt has short hair and no beard — I have no time for Matt.

12. Success! We have a tyre but of course it doesn’t fit. That’s OK because Gabe has super strength and pretty much tears a chunk of metal off the car with his bare hands to make it fit. And further insight into Gabe reveals he is the group’s workhorse. For a family that doesn’t live by society’s rules, they’ve managed to pigeonhole their kids into stereotypes pretty well.

Alaskan Bush People
Gabe tore through this metal to make the replacement tyre fit. (Nine)

13. Since finding out at the beginning of the episode that the family was living on public land when they got the boot, I’ve been wondering whether their new home will be legit. Turns out it is and the reason they could afford these five acres is because it’s in the remote wilderness, meaning it’s very rugged and cold and therefore cheap. This plan sounds less and less appealing, though as a struggling millennial who might never be able to own her own home maybe I should be less dismissive.

14. They’re at the site later than planned because of the tyre so are racing against time to get a simple shack built to shelter them before it gets cold and dark. There are regular temperature updates and it’s 30° Fahrenheit. Obviously I have to Google again to find out what that means in celsius. WHAT?! That’s -1°C. How are they not freezing? I’m cold just thinking about it.

15. We get to meet one of the sisters now. Her name is Laura Jean Snowbird but they call her Birdie. She says she has nothing to prove to the men. I’m glad she feels this way because I lose all hope in the males of the family when they reveal they didn’t know how to raise her because she’s a girl. Now I’m not a parent but surely the basics are the same regardless of gender?

Alaskan Bush People
Birdie can hold her own in a family where men call the shots. (Nine)

16. Wait a minute — there’s another brother? Where did he come from? Just popped out of nowhere… anyway Noah is “Mr Fix It” and he’s hobbling around trying to help with the shelter building. Turns out Noah hurt his foot months ago and I know they live off the grid and all, but I think it’s time to see a doctor.

Alaskan Bush People
I only just noticed Noah is even in the show. (Nine)

17. Just realised how glossy Bear’s hair is and I think he looks like a 1970s muso, possibly a Bee Gee.

Bear’s hair compared with the Bee Gees to prove my point. (Nine/Getty)

18. Bear has clarified that his love of fire does not make him a pyromaniac, it’s about survival. Everyone is complaining about how big Bear’s fire is but Bear is right, they would starve and freeze tonight without his passion for burning stuff.

19. Gabe has put on a shirt with sleeves — this apparently means it’s cold because he doesn’t wear sleeves. I don’t need Gabe’s fashion choices to tell me -1°C is cold — it’s just something you know, you know?

Alaskan Bush People
Matt, Gabe and Billy worry are trying to build their shack before nightfall. (Nine)

20. With the sun going down they’re starting to worry about bears, like the actual animal, which is getting confusing because I keep thinking they’re talking about Bear, the human.

21. So Ami, the mum, does the shopping and cooking of course. She only needs to go to the store twice a month because they supplement their food with hunting and fishing. Maybe I’ve been social-distancing too long but the thought of fortnightly shopping is giving me iso vibes.

Alaskan Bush People
Ami prepares dinner. (Nine)

22. It’s -6°C now and I want to tell them all to put some warmer clothes on, like my nana would say.

23. You know when you’ve helped out Mum and Dad with a chore and they offer you a reward like chocolate or extra TV time? Well the Alaskan Bush People version is getting first choice of a sleeping spot in the hastily-built shack. Beggars can’t be choosers I guess.

24. Gabe and Matt have chosen their spots and then start digging head and hip holes to prevent feeling sore in the morning. Does that mean mattresses could just have a couple of dents in them and we wouldn’t need pillows? Is this why we all have such terrible sleep? Have we been doing bedding wrong all this time?

Alaskan Bush People
Gabe is very excited about getting first choice of sleeping spots. (Nine)

25. Bear is on bear watch — classic bear.

26. Oooh it’s the next day and it’s morning routine time. Hopefully I can find out what they do to make their hair so luscious!

27. Darn, it’s mostly the guys talking about how regularly they wash and how they know they smell bad. The answer is only when they have access to water, which doesn’t sound all that often, and when someone tells them to “go down wind”. Nice.

28. So they bury their meat because they don’t have a refrigerator but they secure their shack with duct tape and insulate it with moss. It’s modern yet wild at the same time.

29. Now there’s an actual bear, which Bear scares off with a warning shot. More scenes of Bear with bears please!

30. It’s the following day and Billy has just compared Bear to a dog but says he’s “almost as good”. Bear really doesn’t get the credit he deserves, maybe they’re just jealous of his hair.

31. So Bam Bam’s name actually is Bam Bam. After finding out Bear was a nickname that’s kind of a shock. And he’s named after The Fintstones character because his grandfather loved the show. I find this an odd choice for someone who doesn’t watch TV and thinks Tiger Woods is the name of a park.

Alaskan Bush People
Bam Bam is named after The Flintstones character. (Nine)

32. The family is now spilling the tea on Bam Bam as they chop trees for the cabin they’re going to build. Matt says he’s a “jerk” and Bear believes that every family needs a Bam. I get where Bear is coming from but I think it’s more that every family ends up with a Bam, rather than actually needing one.

33. Bam Bam just got hit on the head by a falling tree and he is mad. I am starting to think that Bam Bam also looks like a Bee Gee.

See Bam Bam looks a bit like a Bee Gee too. (Nine/Getty)

34. Another disaster! The trees are too small and there won’t be enough wood to build the cabin. It’s time for a trip into town. We’re warned this could be tense because the family isn’t always accepted by locals but when Matt and Billy get to a bar they’re warmly welcomed. I feel a bit letdown after all that hype. I was ready for a showdown.

35. Oooh now we have tension. Billy is trying to barter a local guy for the wood. It’s a massive load that would normally be very expensive but Billy manages to get it for $5,000, a caribou and his sons’ labour. The local gives in and the Browns will be able to build their cabin after all.

Alaskan Bush People
Billy’s desperate plea for timber pays off. (Nine)

36. Or will they? I will have to keep watching to find out but I need to put the heater on first because all this talk of cold weather is making me chilly.

Alaskan Bush People is available to stream for free on 9Now.

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Heidi Klum Denies Any Connection to Jeffrey Epstein, Wants “Justice to Prevail”

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Heidi Klum and her lawyer are setting the record straight about the model’s connection to Jeffrey Epstein after recently unsealed court documents claim Klum flew on the accused sex trafficker’s private jet.

In an exclusive statement to People, a lawyer for Klum said, “Any reference to Heidi Klum in connection with Jeffrey Epstein is totally false. Heidi Klum’s name and initials were absent from all the flight logs which were released. Many high profile people are listed, but Ms. Klum is not one of them. The explanation is simple. She has never been on any of Mr. Epstein’s planes. And that is because she did not know Mr. Epstein and was never on his island.”

As part of the case against alleged Jeffrey Epstein accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell, a judge allowed documents from a 2015 defamation case filed by Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre against Maxwell to be unsealed. In the documents, Giuffre names some of the many celebrities she allegedly saw aboard Epstein’s private plane, including Klum.

The model told the magazine, “I have been watching the news and see that I have been mistakenly named as a passenger on one of Mr. Epstein’s flights. I did not know Mr. Epstein and therefore have never been on his planes, at his homes or his island. I am speaking up as I do not want to be falsely associated with Mr. Epstein and the horrific story surrounding him.”

But she added, “I stand with the victims who have so bravely come forward and I too want the truth to come out and for justice to prevail.”

More Great Stories From Vanity Fair

— Inside Ghislaine Maxwell’s Life on the Lam
— Did Meghan and Harry Make Their Royal Exit to Tell the Truth About the Commonwealth?
— How Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell’s Friendship Became a Scandal
— The Stranger-Than-Fiction Secret History of Prog-Rock Icon Rick Wakeman
— Everyone Is Homeschooling. Not Everyone Is Doing It Like the Ultrarich.
— How Quarantine Introduced the Real Camilla to the World
— From the Archive: The Trouble With Prince Andrew

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Richard Ladkani’s “Sea of Shadows” leads Wildscreen Panda Awards nominees

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Richard Ladkani’s feature-length wildlife documentary Sea of Shadows, from National Geographic Documentary Films, leads this year’s Wildscreen Panda Award nominees.

The 2020 Panda Awards — which recognize the “human endeavor, commitment and unique skill” needed to tell nature’s stories — are focused on the craft and impact upon audiences.

Ladkani’s 105-minute film (pictured), which held its world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival where it took home the Audience Award in the world cinema documentary category, picked up four nominations out of the nine film categories, including the editing, music, producer/director and sound categories.

Sea of Shadows follows environmental activists, the Mexican navy and undercover investigators as they attempt to save the last of the world’s 30 remaining vaquitas – the world’s smallest whale – while fighting back against an international crime syndicate.

Silverback Films, meanwhile, secured five nominations across the board and is the most nominated production company this year. The Bristol-based studio has been nominated in the scripted narrative category for David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet, the cinematography category for Our Planet: One Planet, the editing category for Disneynature Penguins, and the music category for Disneynature Penguins and Dancing with the Birds.

The BBC Studios Natural History Unit follows closely behind Silverback with four nods of its own, taking nominations in the production team category (Earth from Space: A New Perspective), series category (Dynasties & Seven Worlds, One Planet) and cinematography category (Dynasties: Chimpanzee).

“Across all categories and juries, a clear message from within the industry emerged – at a time when the natural world and the human race are under pressure from global events, our films and teams need to have purpose beyond entertainment,” said Jeff Wilson, chair of the Panda Awards Nomination Jury, in a statement. “Consistently the juries voted for the films that not only had a creative voice but also that left an indelible impact on audiences. The overwhelming consensus was now, more than ever, our films have to stand above the parapets and be part of the global conversation on the future of our planet.”

Alongside the craft awards, Wildscreen also introduced two new categories this year, recognizing the talent of individuals and teams, with best producer/director and production team.

Nominated in the producer/director field are Richard Ladkani, Walter Köhler and Wolfgang Knöpfler for Sea of Shadows; Craig Foster, Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed for My Octopus Teacher; and Bonné de Bod and Susan Scott for Stroop.

In the production team category, BBC Studios Natural History Unit, PBS and The Open University were nominated for Earth from Space: A New Perspective; GULO Film Productions and Doclights GmbH / NDR Naturfilm were nominated for Lost Kings of Bioko; and Plimsoll Productions was nominated for Night on Earth: Dusk till Dawn. 

The winners will be announced on Oct. 22 at the Panda Awards Celebration, during the first-ever virtual edition of the Wildscreen Festival, moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The full list of 2020 Wildscreen Panda Award nominees can be accessed here.

Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute

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CNN, HLN set “Diana”, “Murder Nation” as part of 2020-21 originals series slate

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CNN and true crime sister network HLN have slated a lineup of original series for 2020 and 2021.

Adding to CNN’s portfolio of premium non-fiction content, the Warner Media-owned pay-TV channel will debut two new original series for 2020.

Previously-announced titles include The Story of Late Night, airing this summer; First Ladies, premiering in the fall; Searching for Italy with Stanley Tucci, slated for 2021; and Lincoln: An American President (working title), also scheduled to broadcast in 2021.

CNN will air the October Films-produced six-parter Diana in 2021. The docuseries reveals how the late Diana, Princess of Wales — a “fashion icon, humanitarian, hopeless romantic, aristocratic rebel and dedicated mother” — rejected the status quo and influenced the world.

The eight-part series History of Sitcom from Cream Productions will explore memorable moments and characters in television; while Jersualem (w/t), produced by eOne-owned Blackfin, is a six-part series that tells the story of the city through six conflict and rivalries. Both series will premiere in 2021.

CNN has also slated the Raw TV-produced four-part series Reframed: The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe (w/t), which explores the life and legacy of the late American actress; and The Woman Who Took Down The KKK (w/t), a four-part series from Blumhouse Pictures that tells the story of a Black woman in the south who “brought down the Ku Klux Klan,” for 2021.

Finally, HLN will premiere Murder Nation (w/t) in 2021.

Each four-episode season of Murder Nation (w/t) will delve into “mysterious and iconic” murder cases from specific U.S. cities in states such as California, Louisiana and Alasksa. The series is produced for HLN by Glass Entertainment Group.

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