Airing on The Discovery Channel, Alaska: The Last Frontier is a reality series that documents the life of the Kilcher family and their community, just outside the town of Homer, Alaska. Starting with Yule Kilcher, who immigrated to Alaska from Europe during World War II, the family have lived on their land for four generations. The family is currently led by Yule’s sons Otto and Atz, who is the father of recording artist Jewel. Also appearing on the show are other local residents who interact with the Kilchers.
The family lives off their land and gets by without plumbing or even modern heating. Much of their time is spent hunting and constantly working to be sure they are prepared for the harsh and unforgiving Alaskan winter seasons.
The series has produced 5 seasons so far, airing more than 75 episodes. Production and filming for the show occur throughout the year, attempting to show the full annual cycle of life in this unique and picturesque environment.
Yule Kilcher was born in Switzerland in 1913 and came to America in 1936 looking for a more peaceful place to live as tensions in Europe grew more intense, eventually leading to World War II. His idea was to find unspoiled land and wilderness where he could live of the land and raise a family. He found his way to what would become the state of Alaska, and more specifically, the area of Kachemak Bay where coal was plentiful and there was open land available for homesteading.
In 1941, Ruth Weber, a friend of Yule’s in Switzerland came to Alaska to join him. The two were immediately married and the two began a family and life together in what is considered to be both one of the most beautiful and most difficult places to live in the world. They eventually had 8 children together.
Yule stuck to his ideas and ideals throughout his life and was considered by many to be a visionary. He became involved in the political process of forming the state of Alaska and was a delegate to the first Alaskan Constitutional Convention in 1955. He and his family are actually a part of the history of the state. He lived on his land right up until the end of his life, eventually dying of complications from pneumonia in 1998, surrounded by all of his children.
Yule’s sons now continue to work the land he gave them, carrying on his traditions and ideas, raising their own children and teaching them how to not only survive, but flourish, from the land they live on. Each providing their own set of skills and always working together, the family has shown they can overcome just about anything.
The show has proven to be popular with audiences and critics. It has gained a lot of praise for its honesty and transparency in presentation. Viewers are shown what really happens in this unusual lifestyle, without television producers adding extra drama or events to try to lure in more viewers. In 2013 the series was given prizes from the Communicator Awards and The Telly Awards. In 2014 it was nominated for two Emmy awards for reality television series.
It’s obvious that Alaska: The Last Frontier is one of the more popular shows in the increasingly watched list of “real reality” series airing on The Discovery Channel. It would seem that as long as the Kilcher family is willing to have their lives documented, The Discovery Channel will be willing to record and broadcast their hardships and adventures for the world to see. While the series is still in middle of it’s fifth season, it seems safe to say that there will be a sixth, and most likely a few more after that. Fans should be able to count on a regular dose of the Kilchers for quite some time to come.