Reality shows are not always what they seem, especially in Alaska.


KTVA 11 News is looking into the “Reality of Reality Shows” this week, starting with the ever-popular “Buying Alaska.” The 30-minute episodes air on Destination America.


The premise is simple — we are led to believe that couples featured on the show want to leave the “big city” behind and own a piece of the Alaska wilderness. With a wish list and a budget, those couples tour three homes on the market with a local realtor. At the end of the episode, they choose one of those homes to buy.


James and Erin Kirkland of Anchorage appeared in an episode last year in Talkeetna.


“We would wait outside the boundary of the property until the production company and the realtor went in,” said Erin Kirkland, who runs the website AK on the GO. “Then the property owner would leave. It’s like you go look at a house that’s really on the market. Then they’d call us in so we’d be surprised.”


The Kirklands would eventually select “The Park House” for $295,000.


In reality though, they never bought that home. Nor did they intend to buy any one of the homes shown. They were hired to play the part after producers discovered the couple snowshoeing in a YouTube video.


“The thing James and I remember is that we were cast members and shows like this are entertainment and people really enjoy them because they’re entertaining,” she explained.


Still, the Kirklands said their reactions to each property were authentic.


“Looking for houses, looking for attributes that would make both of us happy, it felt kind of natural for us,” said James Kirkland.


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