The Brown family's drama has filled 12 seasons of Alaskan Bush People, but some fans are now looking back to the strange story of Billy and Ami Brown's marriage. Years before the show even started, the couple tied the knot when Ami was 15 years old and Billy was 26. Some fans are confused and perturbed by this 11-year age difference.
Alaskan Bush People premiered in 2014, and in 2015, reporters from Radar Online obtained Ami and Billy's marriage certificate from Tarrant County, Texas in 1979. It showed that Amora Branson Brown was just 15 years old when she tied the knot, while Billy Bryan Brown was 26. For some fans, this put the family's whole story in a new perspective, including Billy's memoir, One Wave at a Time. There, he wrote: "She was the beautiful young woman I had ever met," adding that it was "love at first sight."
Back in 1979, a child could legally get married at as young as 14 years old in the state of Texas, though minors required parental consent for the ceremony. Ami and Billy got permission from Ami's mother, according to a report by Screen Rant, on the condition that Ami still finishes high school.
From the sound of it, she did not hold up her end of that bargain. Shortly after their wedding, Ami cut off all contact with her family and dropped out of school. Furthermore, Ami's mother and brother said that Billy became extremely controlling after that, not allowing her to respond to her family's communications.
Ami would give birth to their first son, Billy, at age 18, and then to have six more children in the years that followed. Ami herself has never spoken out publicly against her husband or the circumstances of their marriage. Still, after the details emerged, some fans speculated that her "quiet, dutiful, subservient" demeanor was "enforced" by Billy in subtle ways.
Alaskan Bush People itself portrayed Ami and Billy's marriage as a story of true love, which lasted for decades up until Billy's passing in February of 2021. It leaned into this angle particularly hard when Ami had lung cancer, forcing the family to leave Alaska for California and seek treatment.
The Browns' marriage circumstances came to light at the same time the family faced legal trouble for allegedly claiming government financial assistance they were not entitled to. This included some family members claiming to be Alaskan citizens while living out of state, for which a Juneau grand jury indicted them. They paid restitution, fines and spent a month on house arrest in a hotel.