I enjoy watching “reality documentaries” such as Alaska: The Last Frontier, Mountain Men, Yukon Men and Ice Lake Rebels. But I really don’t like “fake” shows, especially when they go out of their way to seem real.

That’s why I stopped watching Dual Survivor. Without Cody Lundin, the show lost its credibility in my eyes. I usually watch a show or two, then do some research to find out how legit it is.

Alaska: TLF and MM are, as far as I can tell, solid and real. I haven’t researched Yukon Men yet.

Today, I researched Ice Lake Rebels. The first thing I checked was the “remoteness” factor. The show portrays the people as far from civilization, far from help and resources. I was disappointed to see that they were within walking distance (or rowing if the lake wasn’t frozen) of a fairly large city. They can probably hit the Canadian equivalent of a 7-11 for a box of Twinkies. Check out the picture below – that island at the top right is the one on the show.


The city of Yellowknife isΒ right there. In this case, I don’t think less of the people on the show, unlike the apparently very fake and scripted Alaskan Bush People. But I do think that the producers are being a bit deceptive. Some shots are high views of the island, and the developed mainland next to it are blurred, obscuring the docks and boats and buildings.

That’s NOT good television… but I am still watching the show. The Rebels clearly face some real dangers and some tough conditions. But I’m watching a bit more… skeptically than before.

I did quit watching quite a while ago. It took a couple more shows for me to decide Ice Lake Rebels most likely wasn’t real.

I think scripted reality shows belong on network/dramatic television, NOT on purported “science” channels like Discovery, History or TWC. ILR has been replaced with Prospectors on TWC for me. πŸ™‚

23 Responses to “Real or not?”

  • hans huber says:

    of course its a total fake, and the main actor with his fiancee should learn how to act, hes a pain

  • B. in Yellowknife says:

    I lived on 3 different houseboats on the Yellowknife Bay and still inhabit a small cabin without running water on the nearby shore. I know everyone on the show. They are my neighbors and friends.

    I can tell you with certainty that everything in that show is scripted. Everything. On a couple occasions, I’ve had (store-bought) beers with one of the characters while he rehearsed his lines for the show.

    Life on the Bay has its challenges, but it’s mostly uneventful. There have been squatters on the Bay since the late 70s and no-one ever died from the lifestyle. Going (half-way) through the ice at break-up season is commonplace, tho. But it doesn’t kill. The most dramatic incident I can remember is one person breaking a leg like a decade ago. Yes, she was taken to the nearby hospital in an ambulance.

    Also, to portray house-boaters has “survivalists” and “libertarians” is absurd and insulting (to be honest, we think it’s pretty funny). I guess they do that to sell the show to Bible-Belt Muricans who can’t empathize with folks unless they seem to espouse their own bigoted views. Sad. The truth is the Bay is a hotbed of far-left anarchists and deep-ecologists. I guess you could call us hippies or commies, if that’s closer to your idiolect.

    I guess the idea of liberals roughing it in the bush is just a total [mind****] stateside, but it makes perfect sense to us Canadians. Eh!

    I hope I haven’t burst your bubble.

    • Matt says:

      Hi B,

      Not at all – I added an edit to the story — I concluded it was most likely fake and scripted a while back and quit watching.

      Thanks for the confirmation!

      • Andrew Wilson says:

        I too have now stopped watching,I kept fast forewarding so much I was watching the whole programme in about 25 mins.
        So put your eyes back in you”re head Pike Mike,stop saying “like”all the time young lady (you know who)and for the love of whoever, you producers,stop trying to tell the public that No 1 moron on the lake is capable of installing a solar array,connecting the battery without the breaker being off,come on enough,over and out.
        Andrew Wilson Mech eng ret.

        • guzziman says:

          I have just started watching , Canada Below Zero, it is hard to get in to , but best of all one of the cast of characters is PIKE MIKE ,I watched ice lake rebels and he was there now he is in CBZ what a fake some of the crap that comes from his mouth. I never watched dual survival, that didnt ring true from the adverts for it. Discovery certainly produces some s***. I nearly forgot Alasak homestead rescue When the main presenter shows you his hands to prove that he is a worker as I have said to discovery if I saw those hands I would say he has the worst case of dermatitis or Psoriasis a man could have , also the programme should lose the alaska title and call it USA homestead rescue because most of the programmes are not in Alaska. Discovery channel is so full of fake

  • Tom says:

    On Ice Lake Rebels, I really want to like the show, but just seen an episode where Pike Mike falls out of his little boat due to wake from another boat and has to be rescued, It was so obviouly staged and it is so obvious he did not fall out of the boat but basically jumped out. I have not got another show to avoid.
    As for Dual survival and cody, I think Cody was the phoniest thing on the show, I have seen a released clip that was only put out after he quit/got fired from the show that showed me cody’s true self. He and Joe were on a large rock and moving into the water, cody was bitching about something with joe, joe was in the water, cody still on the rock with joes machete and the fire kit in hand, cody got pissed off and instead of handing the items down to joe he intentionally threw them into the middle of the water away from jow who was standing there waiting for cody to hand the items to him! Joe was like [WTH] cody? Cody just kept pouting and got in the water and then went to the bank and walked off leaving joe to stay in the water and dive for the knife and fire kit which cody just ruined. Then it cuts to cody talking to the producer and telling the producer, “if you put that on the air I will sue you, I don’t give a [—-], I have a reputation to protect” and something about his business or company. Cody was really being a little bitch, When I saw that, I lost all respect. I am sure if you look around on the net you can find that clip, it was actually aired after Cody was fired.

  • Dale Matson says:

    Ice Lake Rebels is Fake
    Edge Of Alaska is Fake
    Yukon Men is unwatchable
    Marty Meierotto of Mountain Men is the real deal
    The Last Alaskans is excellent and better than all the other Alaska/Northern Canada Shows combined.

    • Matt says:

      I have to fast-forward past some of Yukon Men. It’s not fake, but parts are unwatchable. Edge of Alaska took one show to drop. I agree re: The Last Alaskans — great show. I wish it was a continuing series.

    • Andrew Wilson says:

      I really agree with you about Marty being “The Man”however when his snow mobile breaks down 10 miles from home,25 below,getting dark,I always thing why dosnt he just get a ride with the film crew.

  • Nick says:

    The thing that ruined ILR for me, and illustrated how staged it was the positioning of film crews! Example, two guys disappear for 24 hours on a fishing trip, massive SAR effort to find them, which they do, but what about the film crew who were with them, filming their every move up until that point? Surely they needed rescuing too and were presumably filming it? That would have made great tv no? Two “wild men” having to survive for real? I also just watched S2e3 where the dog of the Hevriexs goes missing, and at the end it runs AWAY from the camera towards the couple to huge sighs of relief! The camera just happened to be exactly where the dog would come from?! Seriously?!!

    It’s a shame coz the idea of the show is great but ruined by fake tension and drama- I would find just learning about these people interesting enough.

    • Matt says:

      I don’t really mind so much if a real event is filmed again, such as finding a dog. I do mind if it is overly dramatized.

      The SAR efforts to find someone who has a film crew is a bit much, given that it seems unlikely a SAR team would need to spend that money since the film crew was there. Why would they waste their time?

      But I don’t mind if someone actually gets lost and a SAR crew uses that as a training exercise — but I want to be told about it on the show (there was one show that did that, but I don’t recall which one).

      I certainly can’t watch ILR — it seems like everything is staged, including the actor’s lines. A new one that I don’t care for is Badlands — it’s a weird mix of history, dramatic re-enactments, and fake reality. I’d hoped it would be interesting since I’m originally from West Texas.


  • Keith Brooks says:

    Darn shame on faked shows – Edge of Alaska was just total crap as was the awful Alaskan Bush People. I don’t mind ILR knowing it’s scripted and Yellowknife is right around the bend but yeah, Hervieux is a lousy actor who belongs on shows like Jerry Springer or Dr. Phil. Also, Molly MacKinnon is a complete airhead, the epitome of the ubiquitous Valley Girl; addleheaded bimbo comes closest to describing her though I know that’s unkind of me to say out loud. If she’s single why doesn’t she have her father’s name of Vallaincourt? Yukon Men makes me cringe with the mind numbing absence of any evidence of intellect in all the cast with the possible exception of Stan Zuray. Life Below Zero isn’t bad but Live Free or Die is intolerable. The new addition of Erick is someone who should never be allowed anywhere near a mule. His skills as a blacksmith must be as exceptional as his horsemanship is entirely absent. Why the ASPCA hasn’t intervened is surprising. Same can be said for young Ben, Kyle’s son on MM. Both he and Erick cannot handle a horse worth a pinch of horse pucky. Neither apparently knows how to turn a runaway horse or mule…

    My vote goes full tilt boogie for A:TLF, MM and Last Alaskans. Thumbs up to Klondike Trappers too unless I’m in for another disappointment. Lastly but by no means last, I really have taken a distinct liking to Port Protection, it’s situations and people!

    • Matt says:

      I haven’t seen Klondike Trappers or Port Protection, but I’ll look for them — thanks!

      I agree re: the whole mule situation on Life Free or Die. Aye yi yi … I feel sorry for those critters. I can only hope that the producers are cutting out the good horsemanship and leaving in only the bad stuff — but then, I think it’s fairly clear that the blacksmith doesn’t know how to handle and care for the mules.

      I grew up with horses, even won awards — my aunt was a barrel racing champion in Texas. But I still do stupid things sometimes, so I’ll cut them a little slack.

      I got a skittish horse on a ride in Tennessee one time. Little did I know it was afraid of puddles. I tried to make it go straight when it wanted to go around — mainly because I didn’t want my own leg to get hit in the brush on the side of the hill. It spooked and fell as it tried to climb the hill sideways, dumping me, then stepping on my ankle when it got back up.

      I should have let it go around like it wanted to. That’s really the only bad experience I’ve had out of dozens of good ones, and I expect that’s the one that would have made the cut for the show!

  • Andrew Wilson says:

    Someone asked if Yucon Men was somewhat faked,well I saw a doc(discovery Ch) on Tanana which showed many villagers manning the hot water plant,not just Mr Wright as in the show and many more taking part in running the town.
    Lastly please tell me that Stefan on Lake rebels isnt as thick and basically infantile as he is portrayed,please tell me its the director and producers idea.It really does put me off these programmes,as they are all taking the same path.

    • Matt says:

      I’ve seen other people running the hot water plant on Yukon Men on the show, and the show never pushed the idea that Mr Wright was the only person maintaining it. I think Yukon Men is interesting in that it shows a small town lifestyle, but not in a fake way like Edge of Alaska.

      I like the new Alone and The Wheel shows. My wife and I are watching season 3 of Alone with some friends from church who have a cabin on Edna Bay. They spend 3 months a year there and know one of the contestants very well.

      It seems like The Wheel might be the most challenging for people so far … imagine just when you figure out a routine for finding food and resources, to be moved to a new environment where you have to start over.

  • larry kokkonen says:

    Klondike trappers is fairly factual, but I do find out that some of the snowmobile scenes are purposely manufactured and dramatized. Experienced snowmobilers don’t get into the jams purported…I and the guys I hang around with in Ontario act common sensically in situations shown as being dramatic in the program. Megan’s family should stay in town… no place for a young child…Megan’s comments overshoot…extend the other episodes to cover.

  • Ryan Andres says:

    All I have to say is this show is obviously scripted but Canada also has 7-11’s not “a Canadian equivalent” Matt Hart

  • tim says:

    Anybody that uses batteries gas bullets has to rely on civlization.and cant be off grid.so they also have have to have some income.automaticaly becomes suspect of non reality.

    • Matt says:

      For me, “Off Grid” means that the person isn’t connected to the always-on electrical grid. It isn’t “non-reality” just because a person uses some form of modern tools … unless it’s been presented that way. I don’t know of any show that purports it’s participants are totally primitive without any outside contact. For this post, “not real” is when the show is scripted, and the participants are learning and reading lines, but the show doesn’t reveal that.

  • Dave says:

    Living on a boat in any climate has its challenges, so living near Yellow Knife by default should make everyday life interesting. Discovery should realise that most people would love to see how they handle the extreme weather and the effort to keep the boats floating and warm, rather than hyping it up. Also, the possible the issues that occur with the city of Yellow Knife as they are considered squatters so the conflict with the city would be interesting. I watch these programs to see people enjoying an alternate life style not to watch fake hype.

  • Jo says:

    Hi,I live in Ireland and while having lunch today (a late one) I was flicking around TV channels for something interesting to watch when I came across Ice Lake Rebels for the first time. Having lived for a winter in the artic region of Norway and having also spent time on a house boat in Amsterdam in my youth, this programme really caught my attention and seemed a perfect fit for my afternoon viewing. However, by the time I got to the second half of my sandwiche, I was already having doubts about how real it all was. There were two things that gave the game away for me. First the holiday lodge….tourists could come here, therefore it couldn’t be as inaccessible as they were trying to make out. Also the tourist that was supposely missing for 5 hours and could die if we didn’t find him before nightfall! First of all, he looked the picture of health when found and secondly he was a musician travelling to a gig! So not so inhospitable after all. Still despite my doubts I decided to check it out on the internet,especially as the programme showed tourists could go there…I fantasised I might actually go there myself some day when my job really gets to me!πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. Low and behold after a simple search I discover its more fake than I thought, which goes to show, you just can’t trust anything these days. I agree with some of the other comments, it should not be on the Discovery Channel. It annoys me that producers can get away with this kind of deception. And yes a real programme on the people living there would have been very interesting anyway. I enjoyed the comments from people who live there and know the characters, it must be a source of great amusement all the sameπŸ˜‚. Someone should make a documentry on that aspect of it. Oh well I guess this means I may not be escaping to the wilds of Canada on an ice boat after all.

  • Rob says:

    Yukon Men is totally fake. That young couple, Chris and Jesi, are totally unwatchable. If you watch the scene when they first get to their cabin and are having their first meal of rice and beans and a squirrel and she’s complaining about the squirrel there is a quick wide-angle shot of the inside of the cabin. From that shot the cabin is two stories tall, with a vaulted ceiling and large ground level windows and windows above that. (not a heat efficient cabin I’d say). But if you pause right at the beginning of that shot and look out the window (before the producers blur the image) you’ll see another house about thirty yards away with two nice snow machines parked outside and right above the bottom ledge of the window you can see the roof of a car. FAKE!!!

  • Mike k says:

    Live or die fake fake fake

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