Just you, a complete stranger, and the brutal terrain of an unfamiliar wilderness.
Forget clothes, who needs them? You’re stripped of them anyways – all you’re going to be carrying is a rough cross-body satchel containing a camera that is going to serve as your personal diary when the camera crews leave for the evening.
While you’re left thinking about how the crew is laying in their cozy hotel beds, enjoying delicious meals, watching Netflix and indulging in all of the other modern creature comforts that most of us take for granted, you’re left floundering to make a fire out of some frustratingly moist tender just to cook the fish that took you 4 hours to finally spear with a stick you hand sharpened – which probably also took you 4 hours.
Besides you’re satchel, all you have with you, besides whatever primitive survivalist skills you have tucked away in your noggin, is one helpful item of your choice, such as a hatchet or a fire starter. So hopefully you chose wisely and didn’t squander you’re one chance on something worthless.
Oh yeah, if you think you’re going to win some kind of cash prize if you’ve managed to make it through all three weeks without tapping out, then you’re sorely mistaken. The only reward that successfully triumphant contestants receive at the end of their three weeks in the middle of nowhere – assuming they actually make it – is bragging rights and a cathartic helicopter ride back to safety.
With the stakes being so high and with all of this pressure put on the contestants, you might rightfully wonder what it takes to qualify to be on such a harrowing show. You wouldn’t expect producers of such a show to throw any old Joe who can’t even find the grocery store to buy a bag of chips without relying heavily on their GPS, into the jungle, and expect him to fare well. Not to mention, audiences want to see folks give the daunting task of primitive wilderness survival a real shot. It would all get really old if nobody made it past day three.
We did a little investigating to see just what kinds of hoops prospects have to jump through in order to have a shot of competing on the show. Some of the stipulations and restrictions make sense from a legal liability perspective, but some of the other criteria are downright nuts!
Facts Verse Presents: The “Naked and Afraid” Requirements are Unthinkable!
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You’re Not Allowed To Talk About What Happens On The Show
Yup, even when you make it back to the familiar comforts of your home – whether you succeeded or failed at your attempt – you are absolutely forbidden to reveal to the outside world what went on during the show beyond what was recorded by the cameras.
Contestants sign contractual agreements to stay mum on the secretive inner workings of the show. Of course, you might find yourself pretty tempted to blab to the world on social media or maybe even write a book about your life-changing experience.
But be warned, producers of Naked and Afraid aren’t afraid to file lawsuits against you if you step up and say whatever it is you have to say about the show – especially if what you have to say isn’t very flattering.
Honora Bowen, a two-time returning contestant of the show – and a two-time drop out we might add – once compared her experience in her words as something akin to a “Nazi Experiment”. She cited how the producers would ask her questions just to elicit emotional responses, supposedly instigate arguments with her partner just to spike the drama, mince her words through editing, and other such grievances as justification for her extreme comparison.
Naked and Afraid producers didn’t take kindly to her remarks and immediately slapped her with a lawsuit. It obviously worked too because she suddenly went quiet.
You Have To Put Up With The Producers Provoking More Drama
It’s no secret that a lot of ‘reality shows’ aren’t exactly as real as you’d like them to be. Even shows that strive to be as genuine as possible still feel the need to spice up the action and drama a bit, either in the editing room or by gently nudging the on-screen events to incite some kind of response.
For example, the aforementioned Honora Brown was notorious for being the contestant that chose a magnifying glass as her one piece of survival gear. Her father – who passed away a month before she went on the show – had mentioned that it could be useful as a fire starter or as a tool to help purify water.
When producers heard of this – coupled with the fact that she had lost her beloved family member – they insisted that whenever she referred to the magnifying glass, that she referred to it as her father’s, even though it wasn’t his – it was only his idea.
So for a month, she had to pretend to have a sentimental attachment for an item that she really didn’t care about.
Other contestants, as we briefly already touched on, have complained that crew members have provoked conflict between their partners just for television’s sake.
Shane Lewis, a contestant in 2013, complained that the network producers insisted on taking an injury that he sustained before he went on the show that resulted in him breaking three of his toes and passing it off as something that had happened to him during the competition, just to add more intrigue to the program.
You Can’t Interact With Civilization
You might be surprised to learn that not every locale is as isolated as it looks. Sometimes contestants are only several miles away from civilization. Some participants have even said that they could hear cars and such off in the distance.
Even so, you are strictly forbidden to interact with that world even if you were to stumble upon it. Chances are if you started walking in the direction of society a crew member would either stop you from going that way or inform you that you could be disqualified if you continued in your path.
There’s No Rule About Hooking Up – But Who Would Want To?
When you are covered in sweat, dirt, bug bites, and everything else that nature throws at you, probably the only thing on your mind is finding food and water and making sure you have enough shelter to not get drenched in the next downpour.
The last thing you are going to want to do is to get down and dirty with your partner when you’re – well – down and dirty.
Whatever Happens To You In The Wild Is Up To You To Deal With
Whether it’s food poisoning, broken bones, or an unfortunate case of Dengue fever, whatever happens to contestants on the show is pretty much up for them to stick it out. They are always given the option to tap-out, but for the most part, they have to stick through the pain and suffering if they want to come out on top.
That means, if your thatch roof fails on you in the middle of a monsoon and you shiver all the night through drenched and wrinkly as a raisin, then that’s on you. If you slip and sprain your ankle while you’re walking through an algae-covered creek bed, no one is going to come out of the bushes to hand you some ibuprofen.
Of course, if there is some kind of life-threatening situation, then the crew is going to come to your aid. They can’t exactly have people dying on network television.
There are a couple of other exceptions to this rule as well.
Women Receive Sanitary Products
Not only would free-bleeding be a little too raw for television, but it would probably inspire a lot of hostility from feminist groups across the world if female-bodied people weren’t given hygiene products to assist with their monthly cycles.
There have been other cases where contestants have been provided with medication that they took on a daily basis. Such was the case with Matt Struzel who was given Adderal everyday for his ADD. But that brings us to our next point. For the most part, producers of Naked and Afraid generally speaking want you to be in decent health before you come on the show.
You Can’t Have Pre-Existing Health Conditions
As we kind of already touched on, Discovery Channel doesn’t want to have contestants dying on their show, and the competition is a pretty trying one, both on the mind and body. Before you even think about filling out the application, make sure you don’t have any pre-existing health conditions that could potentially disqualify you from eligibility.
That means, if you have heart problems, are prone to seizures, or have had a stroke, then you probably shouldn’t be thinking about trying out.
Not only physical conditions, but mental disorders could potentially get you turned away as well. Apparently they didn’t think that Matt Struzel’s ADD was a disqualifying condition, but they aren’t likely to sign people on to the show that have more impairing mental health conditions.
No Prize Money – But A Weekly Stipend
So yeah, there is no prize. Just the pride you have at the end of your stint knowing that you held your own.
But you might be wondering how these people are going to pay their bills if they have to have to take off work for an entire month.
Fortunately, contestants are given a weekly stipend to help cover their living expenses while they are participating in the show. In all, that stipend ends up equaling out to about $5,000 for the 21 days that you are crawling through the sticks and mud.
So at least there’s that.
Well, that comes to the end of yet another facts-packed video.
It must be wild to be a participant on the show. Only a few most adapted survivalists have what it takes to not throw in the towel halfway through their stint in the wilderness.
Do you think you have what it takes to make it a full 21 days naked and afraid in the middle of nowhere or would you rather be in the familiar comforts of your own home in your la-z-boy and watch it all play out on TV?
Let us know what you think in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you.
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