I was researching information for a blog post when I happened across something I’d never heard of.
This occurs a lot – encountering things, events and people I’ve never heard of. This often leads to more research and, hopefully, an opportunity to slightly decrease my ignorance.
Also, sometimes, an opportunity to skewer that thing, event or person.
The thing I’d never heard of was this program on the Discovery Channel:
The premise of Naked and Afraid is putting two strangers, naked, in some of the most extreme environments on Earth. They’re left with no food, no water, no clothes, and only one survival item each as they attempt to survive on their own.
After 21 days, the participants are supposed to end up at something called the “designated extraction point” where they’re picked up by helicopter or some other vehicle. They’re also given their updated PSR – Primitive Survival Rating:
And why are they doing this?
I learned that Naked and Afraid has been on the air since 2013, for 12 seasons.
How have I never heard of this?
Partial explanation: It’s a reality series, and I don’t watch reality series.
I also learned that each episode’s two participants – a woman and a man – are survivalists.
Survivalists – people who practice survivalism – have a “mindset with the goal of keeping themselves alive through adverse circumstances. These circumstances could be anything, from a devastating flood or earthquake to a nuclear attack or civil war.”
Or, in this case, surviving a reality TV show.
I immediately formed an image of naked young or young-ish people, probably in good shape, cautiously moving through a dangerous place, looking for something to eat, while trying not to get eaten by something.
I’m picturing people with a knowledge of how to hunt animals, what plants are safe to eat, when water is or isn’t safe to drink, capable of building a shelter, capable of existing without cell phones or Starbucks or wine.
And in Naked and Afraid, they’re supposed to do this for three weeks.
I still wasn’t learning…
My research continued, and led me to this very helpful article about the “naked” part, written in 2013, right at the time of the show’s debut:
The author observed,
“When the first clips of Naked and Afraid hit the internet, the show got a lot of attention, as shows with naked people tend to do. It seemed like the latest series to push the bad taste envelope: Survivor, but nakeder.
“But the show is more serious-minded than that; the body parts are blurred out and the participants are so busy with the daily tasks of surviving there is no hanky panky or embarrassment at all. The title promises a titillation the show doesn’t even try to deliver on, while doing what good titles should do: bring the show attention.”
So…body parts blurred…or strategically cropped out:
This answered the “naked” part: It’s used in the title is used to…titillate people.
That still leaves the…
Why do these people do this?
Since a picture – or in this case, a video – is worth a thousand words, I decided it was time to have a look at Naked and Afraid.
In addition to that why? I wanted to see what has kept viewers interested for eight years and 12 seasons.
I went on YouTube and randomly chose a three-minute video with this description:
“Elite survivalist Matt Wright manages to catch a warthog to bring back to camp in Africa.”
I had NO idea what I was letting myself in for.
Wright – who is naked but not blurred or cropped, at least in this image – uses a bow and arrow to shoot and kill a warthog:
Wright speaks to the camera:
Wright raises his fist in triumph:
Wright guts the warthog, and we get to see the guts:
End of video viewing.
I did – sort of – get an answer to the why? in this article:
According to the article,
“The official description of the show states that the contestants must survive on their own for 21 days and that ‘the only prize is their pride and sense of accomplistment.’”
“…several interviews with former cast members revealed that they are on the show for the experience and the reaffirmation that they can indeed survive in the wild.”
However, the article continued, in 2014 it was revealed that participants…
“…are given a ‘weekly stipend to compensate for their lost wages.’ The rules of Naked and Afraid posted in 2014 revealed that the contestants would be paid $5,000 in cash. Additionally, they would also be given round-trip flight tickets to the location of the survival challenge and put up for two nights in a hotel.”
I’ve answered my why? questions, and come to this conclusion:
Overall, Naked and Afraid sounds like a really horrible, way-too-long first date.
So, what happens to the participants afterwards?
Do they hook up and have a happily-ever-survivalist after?
Do they go their separate ways, with their “pride and sense of accomplishment,” and new Primitive Survival Rating bragging rights? Like the afore-featured Matt Wright:
Finally – and none too soon – in the interests of ending this on an upbeat note, I’ll share a truly inspiring story of another Naked and Afraid participant, who describes herself as the “ultimate survivalist”: Kellie Nightlinger:
According to numerous online sources, Kellie and her fellow-survivalist were starving after spending two weeks in the wild when…
“…she devised an innovative way to catch fish using her private parts as bait and then trapping her meal between her legs:
“Said Nightlinger, ‘We were very hungry and needed fish for our survival. We needed something with protein and because the water was so muddy, traditional fishing methods wouldn’t work, so I had to improvise, adapt and overcome.’”
This also inspired an idea.
The Discovery Channel features fishing shows, like Life on the Line and All on the Line:
I think they should give Nightlinger her own fishing show, and call it…
Hmm, let’s see.
We’ve got Life on the Line and All on the Line – how about…