For Al Jazeera: Reality bites in Alaska when TV crews clog up the frontier


ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska might be one of the last places in America where a person can disappear. Off the grid, hundreds of miles from their nearest neighbor, people here can elude their problems and their exes and even law enforcement.

But, as the locals joke, the reality TV producers will still find them.

Alaska is in the midst of a reality television boom that began in 2005 with the premiere of “Deadliest Catch” and was super-charged by a tax credit program meant to attract feature filmmakers. More than 20 reality shows are currently in some stage of production in the state, which has a population of about 735,000, smaller than the city of Fort Worth, Texas. The productions tend to concentrate in rural Alaska, where less than half the population lives. Once off the road system, it seems, the cameras are everywhere.

“We have such a low population density and so many shows, it is probably the most highly saturated in the country,” says Michael Bergstrom, a freelance producer who lives in Alaska and has worked on a number of reality shows. Louisiana, which also offers a tax credit, might be close, he says.

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Julia O’Malley is a journalist who lives in Anchorage. She writes about culture, family, home, the environment and food in Alaska.

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