Alaska is the only state I've never visited, and sadly it's probably the one that I am most interested in seeing. It's vast, it's mostly empty, and it's…different than the rest of the U.S., right? It's the pristine wilderness! America's last frontier!
Well, according to a certain TV series called Alaska State Troopers, Alaska is a frozen Arkansas. The parts where no one lives are pretty; the parts where there are people look like U.N. refugee camps in Siberia.
I only discovered this show recently, as I dislike A) reality shows and B) police. Anything combining the two would be unlikely to appeal to be. But I'm fascinated by Alaska, it's too cold to leave the house, and the first two seasons are up on Netflix now. The die has been cast.
Six episodes into the series I have learned that Alaskan settlements are giant trailer parks full of meth labs and the most hardcore alcoholics you'd ever want to meet. Oh, it's a dry county? That's OK, we'll drink air sanitizer. And then we'll start beating the shit out of each other, because did you miss the part where we drank goddamn air sanitizer? Of course I understand that a show about police is going to show us exclusively the saddest parts of society. Nonetheless it's interesting to me how easy it is to turn someplace into a paradise in your mind, and how surprising it is to realize that it's kind of a dump. It makes perfect sense that cabin fever combined with high unemployment and not much to do outside on account of the weather would make Alaska an ideal place for alcoholism, domestic violence, and other Trailer Park Pastimes to take root.
I don't consider myself an exceptionally naive person, but for some reason I expected Alaska to be full of relatively happy people because, you know, they live in Alaska. Their neighbors are bears. Everyone gets free money every year from the Permanent Fund (oil). Snow-capped mountains. Glaciers. I thought everyone would be into, like, skiing or something. It turns out they're mostly into acting like guests on Jerry Springer.
Yes, I still want to go to Alaska. It might be more pleasant if I avoid contact with any of its inhabitants, though. Why couldn't you be my snowy paradise, Alaska? How will I live knowing that Nome, no matter how isolated and peaceful it looks on a map, is a permafrost-covered version of Camden, NJ?