EXCLUSIVE: National Geographic is demonstrating full confidence in its new series Life Below Zero: First Alaskans, ordering a second season of the unscripted show days before the premiere of Season 1.
The spinoff of the long-running, Emmy-winning Life Below Zero focuses on indigenous Alaska natives, who “walk in two worlds: one of traditional ways and one of 21st century challenges… Life Below Zero: First Alaskans follows new Alaska Natives as they use sophisticated techniques and methods passed down from generation to generation to thrive in some of the most brutal environments.”
Season 1 debuts on National Geographic with back-to-back episodes Monday night, May 30, before settling into its regular Tuesday night time slot on May 31.
“The heart of the Life Below Zero franchise has always been the ingenuity, resilience and spirit of the individuals who survive and thrive in one of the harshest and most beautiful environments in the world, which Alaska Natives have been doing for thousands of years,” noted Alan Eyres, senior vice president of production and development for National Geographic. “With this second season of Life Below Zero: First Alaskans, we are honored to have been given the opportunity to capture more of the daily lives, cultures, customs and traditions of our Alaska Native cast members and allow our audience to hear more of their stories.”
Both Life Below Zero and its spinoff are produced for National Geographic by BBC Studios Los Angeles Productions.
“With our commitment to honoring the traditions of the Natives peoples and communities who have trusted us to share their stories, First Alaskans represents an important new chapter in our Life Below Zero franchise, known for capturing the majesty of the Alaskan wilderness and chronicling the lives of those who call it home,” Valerie Bruce, general manager of BBC Studios Los Angeles Productions, said in a statement. “This season 2 greenlight affirms the strength of the Life Below Zero franchise we have built over the past decade with our supportive partners at National Geographic and reflects our shared belief in the brand and what it stands for.”
Joseph Litzinger executive produces Life Below Zero and Life Below Zero: First Alaskans. For BBC Studios LA Productions, Krystal Whitney is vice president of current programming; for National Geographic, Kevin Tao Mohs is executive producer.
Among the characters in Life Below Zero: First Alaskans are Jody Potts-Joseph, a member of the Han Gwich’in First Nations people, and her family who “live off the land on the Yukon River.” The Apassingok family, residents of a remote Yup’ik community, “live from what the Bering Sea provides.” Also prominent in the series are Marvin Agnot (Alutiiq Alaskan), Joel Jacko (Athabascan heritage) and his family, and Steven “Tig” Strassburg (Koyukon Athabascan). Strassburg and his partner Louise have seven children, ranging in age from 14 to 5 months.
“This season, Steven is focused on teaching his children the cultural traditions of their ancestors,” NatGeo observed, “and passing down the necessary skills required to live a subsistence lifestyle off the land.”
“The series not only features Indigenous peoples on camera but also prioritizes diversity within the production and is partnering with a variety of cultural consultants and language translators to help bring these incredible stories to light in each episode,” National Geographic said. “The core production team includes Native field and post producers as well as Native graphic designers, musicians and storytellers to create a cohesive and authentic feel that highlights multiple rich and historic cultures.”
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