What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ultimate Survival Alaska features some hunting with weapons and other survival tactics, like eating live frogs or animal waste, that might disturb some sensitive viewers. Bare male buttocks are sometimes visible when the survivalists strip off clothing to cross rivers, but aside from some crude language about male genitals, there's nothing sexual in the series. Expect a bit of salty language and some competitive behavior, but also a few teachable moments about wilderness survival and safety.
What's the story?
ULTIMATE SURVIVAL ALASKA follows eight extreme survivalists competing against each other in a 3,000-mile trek across the dangerous Alaskan wilderness. The experienced explorers, who range from veteran mountain guides like Willi Prittie and Marty Raney, to 26-year-old Dallas Seavey, the youngest person to ever win the Iditarod, compete in a 10-leg expedition across the state that requires them to navigate dangerous and hostile territory with only the gear they carry on their backs. At the start of each segment of the journey, they are dropped off in remote spots of places like the Brooks Mountain Range, along the Yukon River, and on the icy summits of the Tordrillo Mountains. Once there, they must break into teams in order navigate their way to the pick-up point within a designated time. Without GPS navigators, phones, or any other modern gadget, the challengers cross swift rivers, climb icy glaciers, and battle wild animals, dangerous weather conditions, and hunger, in order to survive. Those who make it to the end get the satisfaction of knowing that they were able to live through the overall experience, and live up to their survivalist reputations.
Is it any good?
Ultimate Survival Alaska shows the various ways that survivalists are able to make their way through the wilderness and rely on their surroundings for food, shelter, and other basic needs by using skills and techniques that explorers used hundreds of years ago. It also underscores how important it is to for folks -- survivalists or not -- to respect the fact that human beings are extremely vulnerable to the challenging terrain, extreme weather conditions, and wild animals of the region.
The challenges offer a lot of teachable moments, ranging from how to start a fire in the rain, to identifying risk factors that can make a simple walk deadly. Even more interesting are the explorers' conversations about what drives them to risk their lives doing what they do. Ultimately, this is a show that reminds us that the beauty, excitement, and raw danger that the wilderness offers can actually teach us what life is really all about.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about survivalists. What drives people to leave modern-day life to trek through remote areas of the world? Who are some of the most famous wilderness explorers portrayed in films and on TV over the years?
Talk about how these shows are made. How do these extreme events get caught on camera? Do the folks behind the scenes (camera operators, producers, etc.) also have to do these often dangerous things? How does their presence potentially impact the survivalists' behavior and/or decisions during their journey?