Milestones in television rarely make the 150th episode mark when we talk about reality TV, and there are few shows on the smallscreen that match the grit and the fascination of the cast of National Geographic Channel’s Life Below Zero that boasts a 60 year-old grandmother as the main attraction.
But Sue Aikens is not an ordinary person, and her wherewithal, smarts and more importantly the way she methodically explains her workarounds and existence strategy is what has made this series one just about anyone with a TV talk about in glowing terms. The show is addictive.
Simply put, Sue is fascinating. Her Spartan lifestyle is beguiling to many fed up with the modern world, and her ability to carve out a living in a place few of us have experienced makes for a multi-Emmy Award-winning series that is a no miss.
And New Years Day marks the 150th episode of Life Below Zero continues the story of these pared down and extreme lifestyles of competent residents living off the grid in Alaska. TV Shows Ace is joining Sue Aikens and the network for a special Zoom call on Thursday, Dec. 3 to talk about the series to date.
About Life Below Zero
The series is set amid temperatures frostier than minus 50 degrees at most times. It is filmed in one of the most isolated regions in the world, where people live their lives among apex predators, whiteout snowstorms, unpredictable terrain and forage for proteins and edible vegetation And it is there during the kinder months that Sue Aikens runs a profitable B&B, Kavik River Camp where people can experience a bit of the wild.
The series tracks six people as they battle to eat and survive in the state with the lowest population density in the United States, Alaska.
We see how families and individuals living alone like Sue face blinding whiteout snowstorms, precarious frozen terrain that morphs into frozen rivers and treacherous ice situations, not to mention the apex predator pals, those man-eating carnivores living parallel lives among these rare humans.
National Geographic’s fan-favorite series is nonfiction reality TV at its best. It does not dwell in the contents of a cyst (Dr. PimplePopper) nor voyeuristically linger on shots of morbidly obese people stuck in their beds (My 600-Lb Life) or focus on phony constructs of human relationships with damaged people (90 Day Fiancé). There’s a rapt audience for that guilty pleasure content to be sure. But for the fans of any of National Geographic Channel reality series, ‘Life Below Zero’ sets a higher and more edifying bar for programming that opens up new worlds.
About Sue Aikens
Sue lives in the most remote section of the state, over 500 miles from the nearest town. Around all this drama, the production crews suffer and must ingeniously protect and rig their equipment as the temperatures can go minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit or more. They have to pack heat in case a wolf or bear pops up and have YouTube war stories to boot.
Aikens is the sole resident and owner of the Kavik River Camp, described by her as “an old oil camp” two hundred miles above the Arctic Circle on the only
refueling station. And in order to run a business she must cater to the people who are eager to experience the Alaskan tundra and the beauty of a thawed out terrain that normally is under a sheet of ice and snow.
Sue Aikens (@sueaikens) builds new outhouses for Kavik River Camp and incoming client. Watch her show off more of her construction skills on the next episode of #LifeBelowZero, this Tuesday at 8/7c. pic.twitter.com/wPsAIeascP
— Life Below Zero (@LifeBelowZeroTV) November 20, 2020
Aikens is shar and knows how the predators operate. They will cull something easy to kill, perhaps injured and old. In past interviews Aikens has joked that she ticks those boxes which means she is extra alert, and loaded for bear anytime she steps out of her living space.
Other cast members include Ricko DeWilde, Agnes and Chip Hailstone, Andy Bassich, Denise Becker and Jessie Holmes.
Since its debut, Life Below Zero has filmed more than 150 episodes and has earned 13 Emmy nominations, including two in 2020, and received three Emmy awards for cinematography and one for picture editing.
The spinoff of LBZ
To continue the adventure of the fan-favorite series Life Below Zero is the brand-new spin-off series, Life Below Zero: Next Generation. After years following the lives of the Life Below Zero cast, this new series, Life Below Zero: Next Generation, is a study of individuals who have made the decision to also go off the grid and live their lives in the Alaskan wilderness.
The series features a new crew of tough Alaskans who have tried contemporary life and rejected it in favor of a life of freedom in the unforgiving wilderness.
They speak to the growing dissatisfaction the current generation has with technology, which is ubiquitous in modern life. The brave crew follows these less experienced individuals as they transition from modern-day society to forge a new life for themselves in the vastness of Alaska’s wild frontier. This next generation of Alaskans have created their own rules, rebelling against societal norms and learning how to survive in a desolate and cold environment.
The Life Below Zero franchise is produced by the BBC Studios’ Los Angeles production unit for National Geographic.
The 150th Life Below Zero episode airs New Years Day January 1 at 9/6c on National Geographic Channel
TV Shows Ace will be in attendance for National Geographic’s virtual trivia event tomorrow, Thursday, December 3rd at 1pmPT/4pmET in celebration of the upcoming 150th episode of Life Below Zero.