Tougher in Alaska

TV review by
Anne Louise Bannon, Common Sense Media
Tougher in Alaska TV Poster Image
Tough guy does tough jobs in a tough state.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Traditional gender roles seem to be the norm. Environmental issues are often side-stepped. Almost everyone is Caucasian, although one of the fishermen has at least some Native American family.

Violence

None seen, but there's talk of carrying guns, and explosives are used as part of a mining operation. Fish are decapitated and gutted.

Sex
Language

Words like "damn" and "crap shoot" are audible; there are also several bleeps -- but you can generally tell what the word was.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this rugged docuseries doesn't pull too many punches about either how hard life is in Alaska or the nature of the Alaskan character -- which still reflects the frontier mentality and is very independent and male-dominant (though the women are expected to be tough, too). Gold miners carry guns to their back-country claim to protect themselves against bears, but they don't shoot the weapons. Fishermen flirt with breaking the law to get their catch, and some do cross the line (although that scene is shown from the perspective of the officers enforcing the law). Scenes inside a salmon processing plant show a machine chopping the heads off fish and others scooping out their guts.

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What's the story?

Alaska is huge, wild, and known as America's last frontier. The jobs here are pretty tough anyway, but add to that the harsh conditions of a place where you don't see the sun for up to a month at a time and average lows in the winter are around 5 below zero, and it's not just tough -- it's downright harsh. In TOUGHER IN ALASKA, Alaskan journalist Geo Beach shows viewers how hard it can be to live and work in our 49th state, looking at industries from gold mining to salmon fishing.

Is it any good?

In his own Hulk Hogan-esque kind of way, Beach is an engaging host, and while the storytelling jumps around an awful lot, the show is interesting. Depending on your values, the featured industries -- many of which have a reputation for negative environmental impact -- might make you cringe, but the show does an excellent job of blending the history of each industry in Alaska with a look at how the jobs are done now.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the messages the show sends by what issues it chooses to highlight. For example, mining, logging, and salmon fishing all have a reputation for having a negative environmental impact, but the show doesn't explore that topic equally for different industries, glossing over it in the mining episode while going a little deeper in regards to salmon fishing. Why do you think there isn't more discussion about preserving the environment in the mining episode? How can producers shape what audiences take away from their shows? Can you believe what you see on TV?

TV details

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