Considering the astounding popularity of “Life Below Zero”, it was only to be expected that its spin-offs would achieve the same success. That’s why “Next Generation” climbed several steps up in our what-to-watch lists, and became one of our favorite survival series out there.
Following the adventures of several millennials who left everything behind to settle in an off-the-grid life in Alaska, the cast of “Life Below Zero: Next Generation” surely represents the most genuine side of reality television nowadays.
Out of all the cast, we’re especially interested in Chris Morse and his wife Jessi, whose challenging life near the Cosna River has put their well-being at risk more than once.
So where is Chris now? Has the harsh Alaskan life finally taken a toll on him? Keep with us to know it!
- 1 Is Chris Alright?
- 2 How Does He Survive In Alaska?
- 3 Was Chris In Another Show Before?
- 4 The Struggle Of Living In Alaska’s Wilderness
- 5 Online Business
- 6 How Did Chris and Jessi Meet?
- 7 Where Is The Rest Of The Cast Now?
Is Chris Alright?
With the premiere of the fourth season of “Life Below Zero: Next Generation”, many fans of the show have worried sick about Chris Morse, as in the previous season, Chris had his leg accidentally cut by a trail cutter while pushing his wheeler off a road.
The incident was just as serious as it looked on camera, as not only did Chris suffer three nerves cut, but also felt the object piercing his bone, as he affirmed during a Question and Answer season for the show’s official Facebook: ‘I could hear pop out and then I looked down and I could see the leg full open, I could see the white bone’.
Despite the seriousness of his injury, taking adequate medical measures prevented the situation from worsening. By early 2022, Chris declared having recovered 99% percent of his leg’s sensitivity, which was admittedly a great improvement compared to the grim situation his limb was in the previous year.
All in all, Chris has left the unfortunate experience behind, and is fortunately safe and sound nowadays.
How Does He Survive In Alaska?
Just by knowing the premise of “Life Below Zero: Next Generation”, you immediately assume that the cast members are experts on how to survive and even prosper in the extreme weather conditions and difficulties that the Alaskan wilderness put their way.
This is no different for Chris and his wife Jessi Morse, who despite having lived near the Cosna River for several years, are still faced with complicated problems on an almost daily basis.
While struggles are always present in a life off-the-grid, the Morse marriage makes everything work in their own way. For starters, for Chris and Jessi, money isn’t necessary when their environment already provides them with everything they need. Nonetheless, Chris affirms that ‘a strong background in mechanics and a willingness to adapt and overcome is really important out here’.
Since modern appliances aren’t available to Chris and Jessi in their cabin, washing clothes by hand or using wood to heat their house, water and stove is a must for both of them. Electric energy is also a luxury hard to find so far into the Alaskan wilderness, leaving them to choose solar panels as a more eco-friendly alternative to power their cabin.
Stars litter the night sky over Andy Bassich's property in Alaska. #BestofNatGeo #LifeBelowZero
Was Chris In Another Show Before?
By appearing in “Next Generation” since its premiere in 2018, Chris and Jessi Morse are understandably well known by the show’s audience. However, if you’ve been a fan of Alaska-based reality shows for a while, the faces of Chris and Jessi surely ring a bell for you.
As it happens, the TV debut of the Morse marriage precedes “Next Generation”. The couple actually appeared in “Yukon Men”, a Discovery channel show focused on several individuals living near Alaska’s Yukon River. The show premiered in 2012, with Chris and Jessi joining the cast in later seasons.
While it’s undeniable that the Morses were still very inexperienced compared to their expert survivalist cast mates, their ingenuity in creating functional devices and solving problems soon gained them the audience’s approval.
Although “Yukon Men” was eventually canceled in 2017, the popularity Chris and Jessi had already gained by that time was what secured them a spot in the National Geographic series “Life Below Zero: Next Generation”.
Squibb installs the pilings for his wood deck extension. New episodes of Port Protection and #LifeBelowZero Next Generation air tonight starting at 8/7c on National Geographic. pic.twitter.com/1K86dmiD0c
— Life Below Zero (@LifeBelowZeroTV) February 8, 2022
The Struggle Of Living In Alaska’s Wilderness
Unsurprisingly, many don’t realize that actually becoming a modern eremite isn’t as easy as it sounds, as discipline, inner resolve and a lot of skills are required in order to come out alive every season.
While it’s an understatement to say that living in the Alaskan wilderness puts Chris Morse’s life on the brink every day, he and his wife Jessi aren’t as prone to accidents as expected. However, several environmental factors have recently negatively affected their lifestyle, such as the overflowing of the Cosna River, which in early 2021 ruined their fishing plans by leaving their lines submerged and in potential danger of being lost, an unfortunate situation considering Chris and Jessi obtain a huge part of their protein supplies through fishing.
That wasn’t the last time that the Cosna River would get in their way, though.
Right before the filming of “Next Generation”s fourth season started in August 2021, the terrible terrain conditions made it impossible for the Morses to reach their cabin: ‘The Cosna suffered from so much rain this year that there’s lots of mud and gravel blocking the channel’, affirmed Chris on a Facebook post.
All in all, living a life off-the-grid is an exciting concept for some people, but it’s surely a lifestyle often misunderstood.
While Chris and Jessi Morse affirm that money isn’t that necessary for a lifestyle such as theirs, they actually started a small online business in mid-2021. As it happens, Jessi is an avid painter and crafter, while Chris prides himself on his knife-smithing skills.
Joining those forces together, they started Cold Spot Studio, which sells a variety of homemade pottery pieces adorned by Jessi, in addition to Chris’ traditional-looking knives.
While both product lines are quite different, the incorporation of symbols allegorical of Alaska such as the state’s map or landscapes on their creations, helps us understand the intent behind their shop.
Considering that the Morses’ products aren’t very expensive, it’s only logical to think the shop isn’t a big source of money, which is why the couple usually takes small photography projects in Alaska to provide for themselves.
How Did Chris and Jessi Meet?
Despite living so far away from civilization, Chris and Jessi are quite active on social media. On their Facebook page they usually post content directly related to their appearances in “Life Below Zero: Next Generation”, while their respective Instagram accounts are more personal-focused.
While many people find it unusual that a couple with such a lifestyle is that aware of their presence online, the truth is that the Morses are quite sociable. It’s thanks to that openness that we were able to get a hold on their love story, which is unsurprisingly sweet.
As it happens, though Jessi and Chris apparently knew each other in high school, they didn’t start dating until their early 20s. In fact, Chris stated on his Facebook page that their first date was in July 2007, on the same day of her birthday. Their relationship eventually evolved, and in 2013 they tied the knot in a small ceremony in Fairbanks.
Where Is The Rest Of The Cast Now?
The name Mike Mazno is well known by the audience of “Life Below Zero: Next Generation” thanks to his impressive survival skills and educational background. He’s actually a graduate from Alaska Pacific University, where his senior project was developing a freighter canoe which perfectly adapts to Alaska’s wild waters.
Mike is a survivalist and hunter at heart, which goes well with his interest in sustainable artifacts and eco-friendly fueled transportation, saying: ‘It’s in my blood to want to build and design dog sleds and canoes. As a Miꞌkmaw Indian’.
With so many abilities and talents, it’s unsurprising to see why Mike was a perfect fit for “Next Generation”, or at least he was until the show’s third season dropped and he was nowhere to be found. Though there’s no clear explanation as to what happened to him, we assume his absence from the show will be long-term, as he was replaced by Chevie and Sonta Roach a season later. Nonetheless, we don’t lose hope of seeing him again in “Life Below Zero”, or in another show.
Surely enough, Johnny Rolfe has become one of the most memorable “Next Generation” cast members. Known for his coolness but undeniable commitment with his ‘off-grid hermit’ lifestyle, Johnny considers himself a ‘hunter, gatherer, forager’ and ‘full time nomad’ who apparently ‘sold out’ to television. However, just by seeing him in the show, it’s evident that the life of a survivalist is what fits him better.
Though Johnny has his fair share of fans, his dog Java immediately caught the hearts of the audience since her debut in the first season of “Next Generation”, not letting us go since then. Fortunately, both Johnny and Java are still in the show by the fourth season’s premiere, and judging by their popularity, they still have a spot on our TV screens for years to come.
Just like his fellow cast mates, Alex Javor’s survival in the Alaskan wilderness depend’s on fishing, hunting and not getting frost bitten. While Alex deals well with all of these aspects, it’s always amusing to see his adventures with his Sipsey, a Siberian Husky dog whom Alex considers his best friend.
Choosing an off-the-grid life simply came natural for Alex. As he affirmed during a Question and Answers special on the show’s Facebook page, in 2013 he found himself not knowing what to do with his life after leaving the Army.
Alex Javor collects and shovels snow. New episodes of #LifeBelowZero and Next Generation air tonight starting at 8/7c on National Geographic.
After traveling and trying to make up his mind for a long while, he watched a YouTube special about life in Alaska and was immediately attracted by it. Fast forward to the present, Alex changed his location to Deadman Lake, and is fortunately still an active cast member of “Next Generation”.
Kaleb and Brittany Rowland
As some of the most popular “Next Generation” stars, Kaleb and Brittany Rowland and their kids Gilbert and Elovie are surely a vital part of the show by now. Whether it’s because the clan has a wholesome dynamic, or because it’s rare to see an entire family adapting to such an extreme lifestyle, the truth is that the Rowlands captured everyone’s hearts from the show’s first season.
Though it’s unclear what Brittany did before tying the knot in 2011, it’s known that Kaleb worked as a commercial fisherman in his native Alaska. It’s unclear what exactly pushed him to change the fishing nets for knives and go hunting, but it’s evident that he and Brittany are fully committed to the sustainable lifestyle they now have, and plan on passing it on to their children.
For Roland family’s fans, be assured that they’re actively appearing in “Next Generation”.
Chevie and Sonta Roach
If you haven’t been up to date with the newest episodes of “Next Generation”, the names Chevie and Sonta Roach won’t ring any bells for you. However, they actually became the newest additions to the show, taking the empty place left by Mike Manzo in the third season.
Chevie and Sonta’s reasons for joining the off-the-grid lifestyle aren’t that hard to understand. Both are Alaskan natives, and have a deep interest in “ecotourism”, an initiative focused on ‘living off the land in the most natural way’. By offering guided tours through the Innoko River region for students and tourists, Chevie and Sonta’s business Innoko Ecotourism & Logistics is surely meant to grow, thanks in part to their TV appearances.
Though Chevie, Sonta and their three kids Sydney, Ryder and Emery still need time to grow on the audience’s hearts, it’s always refreshing to see new faces on TV.
Is The Show Real?
While “Next Generation” is a relatively new show, whether or not the show is real is a question which always haunts reality series, no matter what.
Though there’s no way to prove “Next Generation” is faked or staged in any way, the main “Life Below Zero” series has been the subject of criticism in this regard. In 2017, former show star Susan Aikens sued the franchise for apparently forcing her to perform a risky scene, which resulted in an accident and severely injuring her.
It’s not clear what the case’s resolution was, but heavy editing and somewhat staged-scenes are an everyday occurrence in the genre of reality TV. Of course, it’s somewhat disappointing to know your favorite series isn’t 100% real, but this formula of success works well for the industry, and plays a big role in determining how entertaining our favorite TV shows are.