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Empire Editorial: New reality show raises questions

Posted: October 5, 2013 - 9:34pm  |  Updated: October 5, 2013 - 11:11pm

Alaska has certainly been in the reality television spotlight over the past few years, but the newest show on a handful of females from our fair state doesn’t resonate well; we’re worried the show will paint an unrealistic picture of Alaskans, especially Alaskan women.

Series titles such as Gold Rush, Buying Alaska, Flying Wild Alaska, Sarah Palin’s Alaska, Alaska State Troopers and Below Zero are just a few television shows that have percolated through the cable channels and video streaming website. Whether Alaskans are portrayed as bold pilots or gold-crazed adventurers, each show seems to stretch the truth.

We get it; the producers are giving audiences what they crave — a glimpse into the intrigue of the unknown. And it’s not just Alaska. A new show debuting this fall from National Geographic titled “Snake Salvation” is on the practice of handling deadly snakes in church. Or there’s the Discovery Channel’s “Amish Mafia,” where cameras “follow those who protect and maintain peace and order within the Amish community.”

Premiering at 6 p.m. tonight is TLC’s “Alaskan Women Looking for Love.” The six-part series follows the trials and tribulations of six women from the Kodiak area after they have been relocated 5,000 miles away in Miami Beach, where they get jobs and search for love in a place very different from their hometown, according to a TLC news release.

A quick clip from one episode shows the women running into the ocean donned in novelty bikini t-shirts, which leads one to wonder, “were these women not fit to be shown in their own bikinis?” Later, clips of partying, drama and sweet embraces flash across the screen. On-camera interviews highlight how out-of-place the group feels.

We’re worried Alaskan women will be generalized into one single category — we’re all desperate and live isolated, antisocial lives where dating options are few and far between. It’s true for some Alaskans, but certainly not all.

Back on the screen, it’s not hard to feel like the women never stood a chance. Maybe if they were looking for love in Montana ... or for love in Canada — at least we share the some of the same latitudes. Florida is balmy and warm; Alaska, especially this time of year, is gray and chilly. Our skin is not terribly sun-kissed and, well, sunburns hurt! But more importantly, it takes a different kind of person to live in either Florida or Alaska.

While we’ll be rooting for these young women to truly find love, or just have fun doing it, we worry the show will leave them feeling a little embarrassed and perhaps offended.

After watching just a short clip, we were.

Our Alaskan women have deep roots that are strong like the Sitka spruce trees in our forests. Our women are unique — it takes a special female to make her home in an often-unforgiving land, such as the Last Frontier, let alone find love among the many men in this state. Yes, men outnumber women in many communities.

Yet, the show seems to focus instead on the isolation that sometimes exists in our state and unfortunately seems to tie that isolation to the reason these women have never found “true love.”

But the truth is this: Finding love is never easy, no matter the state of residency.

It’s not all bad.

There is a silver lining: The women chosen for the show are every-day women. Not plumped up or artificially slimmed down.

All are beautiful in their own way and as unique as the state from which they hail.

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