7. Swamp People
Sure: years ago alligator hunting may have been widespread in parts of the country and is now a dying way of life that is still practiced by a small group of devotees. But, that’s not history, that’s just declining market share.
Swamp People follows a hardscrabble group of “swampers” through Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Swamp as they partake in the gold rush that is Louisiana’s 30-day alligator hunting season. Which is probably just long enough.
I won’t even bother admonishing them for standing up in the boat (a big no-no), because that appears to be the least reckless habit these people have.
6. Ax Men
Logging has a long, proud and utterly terrifying history in the United States. But, we’re no where near done cutting down trees in this country and so-called “ax men” are far from a thing of the past.
Enter said Ax Men.
Profiling several logging companies as they do their work across the Pacific Northwest, the madcap antics and insanely dangerous life of the Ax Men make the Swamp People’s casual relationship with safety look like nap time at a daycare. A really posh daycare, with well marked exit signs and baby mimosa’s on Fridays.
No, “Bamazon” is not the name of an experimental new salad dressing that has escaped from Guy Fieri’s secret test kitchen. It’s also not a show about history.
This program is a riches to rags tale about a once powerful Alabama real estate developer whose livelihood succumbed to the U.S. housing market crash. How is a crestfallen Alabaman supposed to return to greatness? Digging for gold in South America, naturally.
There are fleeting historical references to Conquistadors, but I think that was just an excuse to break out the prop swords.
4. Big Rig Bounty Hunters
These guys repossess trucks.
That’s pretty much it.
3. Big Shrimpin’
It would take a bigger man than I to not make a Forrest Gump reference here.
This oddly endearing tale of Alabama shrimpers was the History Channel’s answer to Discovery’s Deadliest Catch, Bayou La Batre-style.
While the brand of shrimping that Dominick Ficarino and his team employ is dated and old fashioned, we’re still not quite in the “history” wheelhouse. So to speak.
2. Life After People
This show is set in the future. So, by definition it can’t really be history. But! It is telling the history of the world after some fictional event in the future that caused humans to go extinct.
Life After People is the fictional history of a fictional future. Got it.
The title is also not entirely accurate: continuing within the History Channel universe, somewhere out there in the overgrown world (which conveniently doesn’t have 6 billion rotting, human corpses laying around) is surely Frank Belcastro.
Keep scrolling, that reference will make sense in a second.
1. Apocalypse, PA
Shirking off modern conveniences and waxing revisionist about a “simpler time” still doesn’t qualify as actual history.
Welcome to Apocalypse, PA: the home of Frank Belcastro.
As best as I can tell, this show aired in late 2010 and had a whole one episode arc mostly centering on Frank, the patriarch of the Belcastro family, and his preoccupation with self-reliance, sustainability and animal feces.
I guess they did have some concept of history though - the bicycle powered generator that blew up the family microwave is straight out of Gilligan’s Island - which first aired in 1964.