Review: Naked & Afraid

WARNING: This post contains spoilers!

I watched the first six episodes of Naked & Afraid. It’s a reality show where a man and woman, who don’t know each other, are challenged to survive for 21 days out in the wild… naked. Not just out in the wild, but in some of the most dangerous wildernesses – the maldives, costa rica, africa, the bayou, etc. The show is different that other shows because it’s all about drama and stupid challenges. It’s pretty straight forward. They aren’t competing for money either. They volunteer for the thrill and to challenge themselves. In fact, it seems most of the people who volunteer are survivalists and they to see how they do in a real experience of survival.

I like the show more because they aren’t competing. I don’t like the massive amounts of drama in most reality shows, or the over abundance of stupidity. This show is more intelligent – yes, even with the nudity concept. Now, I do have some feministic views that I’m going to talk about, but the show is educational in regards to wilderness survival and it’s fun to watch.

They do assess the participants mentally, and so far it looks like the people on the show are rational and sane. Well, as sane as you can be going naked in the jungle with a stranger! Seriously though, they are generally mature in mentality and handle the nudity and the challenge decently. I assessed that men can be just as nervous about being nude as the women, and likewise, women can be just as confident and brave in nude situations as a man might be. It’s a pretty equal level of confidence vs shyness for both genders so far! Although, I find it funny that they call it “uncensored” when they are clearly censoring the nudity.

In the first three episodes, it seems like all the men have this impression that the women won’t be of any help and will be whiny or in the way. However, it seemed to me that the men were actually pretty whiny and uncooperative, in addition to needing help. The women were the strongest participants so far. Some couples were able to get over their misconceptions and personality differences in order to work together. Now, don’t get me wrong, the women weren’t perfect, but I definitely saw a sexist mentality confronted with the hard truth that women are just as strong and capable as men. I liked that aspect of the show.

In the first episode, I just wanted that guy to wash all that crap off him. It irritated me for some reason. Plus I felt like he was too needy and whiny. I do think his partner could have tried harder to work with him, but she wasn’t up for managing his high maintenance personality. They both had some annoying traits, but they seemed to be decent people and fared well in the end.

In episode 2, the women kills for food for the first time and she cried. She cried, she thanked nature, and she ate a good meal. It’s seen as a silly woman emotional to feel this way, but let’s be real. It’s perfectly natural and acceptable to feel sadness to kill any living creature. I like that the male participant respected her in that moment and even ended up having a greater respect and appreciation for her strength and contribution. In the end, she’s the wrong who brought food to the table despite her feelings on taking a life. For me, it was a touching moment. I would felt the same way.

So a little bit of criticism. If you are worried about being sun burnt (a legitimate concern), then why aren’t trying harder? Instead of walking out in the sun, get down in the foliage out of the sun, and make yourself something to cover up your skin. Being seriously sun burnt is a huge deal and just as important as shelter, water, and food. The guy burns easily and did get pretty burnt. If it was me, out in the hot open sun, naked, a ginger (Yes, I’m a redhead), then that would have been my first priority. Instead, he whined about it and got burnt. In fact, his partner made him a hat to help shade him but he refused to wear it.

In episode 5, the male participant drank unsafe water and got some sort of jungle fever. He survived, but he didn’t complete his challenge. They actually had to take him out of the challenge and put him into the hospital. Without her partner, the female participate ended up succumbing to depression and anxiety, and therefore didn’t complete the challenge either. It’s scary being in a harsh environment alone, on top of worrying if you are going to get the same jungle fever that your partner had. Jungle fevers are dangerous and very serious. I can’t imagine being out there alone… let alone naked! It no one had gotten sick, I think they would have completed the challenge. Despite any turbulence in their relationship, I thought they worked together pretty well.

I have read (and heard on other survival shows) that your attitude can greatly affect your ability to survive. If you have a lot of negativity, you won’t make it. You have to keep you spirits up in order to survive. Imagine if you were stranded in a dangerous jungle and naked. What if your partner died. Wouldn’t you be scared? In this reality tv situation, while you are still in real danger, it’s not the same as if you were actually stranded by yourself. There were situations when storms made it impossible for the crew/producers to come to the aid of the participants – and yes, there were some situations when they had to intervene. But you do have the option to quit. The option to quit means you might cause you to give up just because you don’t feel like dealing with nature. On the other hand, knowing you could quit might be a source of courage, to keep going.

In episode 6, they are in the bayou! I’m from Louisiana, so this had a familiar and nostalgic feel for me. Ahhh episode 6… remember when I said the woman in episode 2 felt bad about killing for food? Well, in this episode, it was the man who felt bad. The woman rationalized that coming across food would be hard, so he should kill the snake he found. He didn’t cry about it, but he apologized to the snake and said he’d make it a quick death. He obviously didn’t want to kill it, but they did what they needed to do. So, no, this isn’t just a “woman thing”. I commend any man who can admit he cares for an animal or doesn’t like or want to kill something. By this episode, it’s pretty clear that men are just as emotional, whiny, cranky, and needy as any woman.

Now, don’t mistake what I’ve said as “man bashing”. The point is that these behaviors and emotions are not “woman things”, they are “people things”. Both men and women feel emotion and behave in common ways. When people let go of their biases, it’s easier to understand each other and work together. That is evident in his show.

I have some criticism for this episode actually. At one point, the guy is complaining that the birds around their camp are easily just picking up crawfish and eating well, while they are starving. They could have learned from their environment. They complained how easy it was for the birds and snakes to catch food… well them learn from them. The guy was grabbing snakes and being bitten by them. Well, if you don’t care about being bitten by snakes, then just pick up crawfish like the birds were. The girl had found a pot – they could have been trying to scoop up crawdaddies in the water. They could have use some snake bits as bait to catch more food. They didn’t even seem to be trying to get food all that hard.

You know that old meme, if you were deserted on a island, what one thing would you bring with you? The participants were both allowed to bring one survival tool. I learned that most men like machetes and girls like fire and pots. After watching several episodes, I’m a fan of fire and pots and I think I’d choose a fire starter. It seemed like fire was one of the hardest things to manage and the most important thing to have. It purifies water, cooks food, and keeps you warm!

Then on episode 7, it was all about showing us what they cut from the show. So, I guess there was some drama and stupidity, but they cut out the majority of it. There were more injuries and more entertaining food ventures than were shown in the previous episodes (not sure why they cut those out). Interestingly enough, the cutt portions had more whiny man moments.

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