Review: Life Below Zero

While we were at our house in the country, we binged watched Life Below Zero, a reality series that originated on the National Geographic channel and is now on Netflix.

The weather was lousy, and the series was compelling in a "train wreck" kind of way.

I was working on my laptop, creating infographics for the new box sex Sweet and Sassy Valentine that contains my Valentine romance, and Life Below Zero provided an interesting soundtrack to my work.

This series debuted May 2013 and is still going strong. Life Below Zero follows people who live in or near the Arctic circle in Alaska as they basically spend the majority of their time trying to find enough food to feed themselves and avoid being killed by wild animals or the weather or the frozen tundra in which they live.


The first season which we watched follows 54-year-old Sue Aiken, Chip and Agnes Hailstone and their 7 children, Jessie Holmes, Andy and Kate Bassich, Erik Salitan, and Glenn Villeneuve who appeared late in the first season.

I won't even get into the horribly frigid weather these people endure in roughly-built cabins without running water, heat, electricity, etc. What we consider the bare necessities are luxuries that are bought by running fuel-fired generators for limited amounts of time.

The season was fascinating in what these people have in common. (1) They will do anything to continue living up there. (2) None of them can speak a sentence without every other word being f*** or that word used as an adjective, adverb, noun, or verb.

Here's an example: "That f***ing son of a bitch f***er f***s me every mother f***ing day." There are usually also a few GD's and lesser curses tossed into every sentence spoken. They all talked like that.

It got to the point where Darling Hubby and I started calling it "speaking Alaskan." We'd even say something, then say, "Pardon my French" then we'd laugh and say, "I mean, pardon my Alaskan."

The Arctic Circle Diet

Let me begin this section by saying I am not opposed to hunting. I grew up in the South and just about everyone hunts. My husband, my dad, brothers, cousins, etc. Even some of my girl cousins hunt. So I've eaten game meat.

That seems tame compared to what these people hunt and eat. If it moves on four legs or flies, they try to shoot it. I get it. That's subsistence living. Raccoons, muskrats, beavers, bear, caribou, birds--if it moves and it's not a person, they'll shoot and eat it. I'm not judging them for that.

BUT, the men in my family would no more eat a raw heart pulled from a bird or small animal than they'd curse in church. They also wouldn't eat most of the animals these people eat, but we have access to supermarkets.

The grossest scenes possible are these hunters slicing up the carcass and chowing down, and I do mean eating the carcass--every possible piece of it which I won't go into here because I just ate and don't want to lose my dinner thinking about it.

Like I say, intellectually I understand why they waste nothing, but I sure don't want to watch it on TV.

The People

Of the people in this reality show, I want to comment on one of the married couples Andy and Kate. Andy was such a foul-mouthed vulgarian with a hair-trigger temper that I began wondering how Kate could say she'd fallen in love with him. What was there to love? He treated her badly and verbally abused anything and anyone in his path.

Episode after episode, he railed and ranted and cursed. I thought, "Why would any sane woman stay with that horrible man?" Interested, I looked it up on the internet and learned that Kate finally left Andy in 2016. They're now divorced.

Takeaway Truth

Life Below Zero is compelling in the characterization provided by these people, and it's a study in survival and subsistence living the way people on the frontier lived a few hundred years ago. That makes it interesting research for someone writing a period novel or a novel about wilderness survival.


  1. I was so glad Kate dumped that jerk Andy, still can't see what she found to love about that man...maybe his pretty, white hair? I am on episode 13 from the first season...I really enjoy watching this show.

    1. Glad you are enjoying it. The drama continues in the new season.

  2. Like the show. Wish Glenn would stop moralizing about all the rest of us. Enough, Glenn!
    We respect your lifestyle choice - respect ours!