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What They Don’t Tell You About Naked and Afraid

Over the last 8 seasons, Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid has been a tremendously popular television show. Its premise is straight out of the 1980’s film “The Blue Lagoon” – minus the lovely Brooke Shields. Essentially, one unclothed man and one unclothed woman are dropped onto a dangerous, desolate location and made to fend for themselves. For 21 days and nights. Using just their wits and some simple tools, they have to create their own shelter, fend off deadly animals and find their own drinking water and source of food. Sounds pretty extreme, right? Well, the danger is real – even if everything that appears on screen isn’t. Many feel the show plays a bit loose with the definition of “reality show” as the participants may not be naked, afraid or worse… complete fending for themselves (at least to some degree).

If you want to go behind-the-scenes to investigate all things Naked and Afraid, you’ve come to the right place. In this video we’ll investigate 10 facts and statements from past participants, producers and survival experts to separate fact from fiction. From things the producers don’t let you see on camera. To the way rules of the game are occasionally bent in the interest of “good TV.” Make sure you watch the whole video: you won’t believe the last two facts!

Here are 10 undressed secrets about Naked & Afraid. These facts are more surprising then shocking, but certainly suggest a pattern that when added together with the somewhat siliceous subject matter make you wonder what the producers had in mind with the show. As viewers we watched and rooted for the characters we loved and hated. Not realizing that their storylines may well have shaped in the edit bay, rather than the great outdoors.

One – Contestants have stolen food from the crew. It appears that some participants took the idea of doing anything to survive in the wild quite literally. And by stealing food from the Naked and Afraid production team. Rather than trying to survive on nature’s bounty, competitor Shane Lewis allegedly stole peanut butter, chips, bread, trail mix, and cereal from the crew. He then stashed the snacks, and his teammates surreptitiously sustained themselves on the stolen snacks for weeks on end.

Contestant Honora Bowen went swimming in a lagoon in Brazil and discovered a shack containing coconuts, pots, pans, a knife, a bottle of alcohol and a few other items, which she quickly grabbed. However, by the time she returned back to shore, the Naked and Afraid production team was waiting for her. Of course, that didn’t stop her from later going back to try again (in the middle of a thunderstorm). And only to tracked down by a production assistant.

Two – They aren’t exactly in the middle of nowhere. A deserted jungle can be a scary, silent place – except when you can hear blaring techno music from a nearby village at all hours of the day. While shooting in Brazil, the locals would crank the jams until 4am! Apparently, civilization was just through the bush. As there also times when cars could heard in the distance. And people could seen through the trees enjoying a game of soccer.

Naked and Afraid producers once shot in the small town of Sorrento, Florida, which is less than a day’s walk to Disney World. It’s hard to be afraid, when you’re close to the happiest place on earth! Probably doesn’t make much sense to be naked there either…

Three – The show is actually just as dangerous for the production team. While Costa Rica is well known for its beauty, it is not without its dangers. Naked and Afraid producer Steve Rankin was bitten by a Fer-de-lance snake on a scouting trip. This is a snake that kills approximately 125,000 people each year. He had to airlifted to the nearest hospital, where he luckily made a full (if painful) recovery.

Four – The show is a lot more scripted than the producers would care to admit. While the show tries to present itself as a raw, reality-based adventure, producers are always looking to inject drama into the storyline. Contestant Shane Lewis said that the show goes for “the Hollywood treatment.” Participants have often complained about Naked and Afraid producers attempting to create drama for the sake of drama. And to manufacture a story to put on television.

Canadian survival expert and filmmaker Les Stroud had asked to collaborate with the show. To which he replied Naked and Afraid is “fake, contrive, set up, pretend, or otherwise (a) lie.” And this from the guy who wrote, directed and starred in Survivorman: Bigfoot.

Five – Injuries aren’t quite what they seem. Shane Lewis is a competitor that certainly seems to have an axe to grind with the producers of Naked and Afraid. During one season, he failed the challenge due to injury. However, the truth is – the injury (three broken toes) happened BEFORE he had even begun filming in Costa Rica. The producers made it seem like it happened during the challenge, and they conveniently failed to get into specifics. Lewis accused the show of making the whole thing seem more dramatic than it was and was privately bummed that the show made him look weak. And in his own words “pathetic.”

If you thought these first five facts were hard to believe, wait until you see the next five – one involves some anti-nudity activists. And the other involves a poison turtle. If you’re as interested in these kinds of behind-the-scenes stories as we are. Be sure to like the video and subscribe to our channel for more videos!

Six – Money doesn’t talk. Naked and Afraid doesn’t go out of its way to mention the prize money incentive it offers participants, preferring to make it seem like contestants are doing it for the love of the thrill. In fact, the Discovery Channel says: “the only prize is their pride and sense of accomplishment.” But we know different. Contestants can win $5,000 for completing the challenge – not much, but that does seem like an odd secret to keep. Maybe that’s why the producers keep that fact (one of many) under wraps. And apparently if contestants don’t complete filming – they get nothing. 

Seven – Miracles don’t occur. While filming in Costa Rica, competitor Kim Shelton got severe food poisoning, after she ate the turtle she captured and cooked herself.

For almost three days she violently ill – so weak she said she didn’t have the strength to vomit. She ended up spending most of her days sleeping. A forfeit seemed imminent. The challenge failed. Miraculously, on the fourth day, she made an almost complete recovery.  Did she eat some local roots or search the jungle for leaves to make a healing herbal tea? Nope. Naked and Afraid’s medical team gave her an IV. As well as highly nutritious baby food, and high carb foods like bread and rice. However, the cameras seemed to miss that part…

Eight – Some Moms don’t like nudity. One Million Moms is a group that clearly would not have been welcomed in the Garden of Eden. They have publicly expressed issues with the show’s nudity, which blurs frontal nudity but occasionally lets viewers take a look… behind. 

They feel Naked and Afraid’s TV-14 rating is not compatible with Discovery Channel’s normally family-friendly vibe. It seems Naked and Afraid is more than the butt of their jokes, since they were able to encourage Pedigree Dog Food and Delta Faucet to pull their sponsorships!

Nine – We’ll fix it in post. Back in 2013, Denise Contis, a Naked and Afraid Executive Producer told the Wall Street Journal that “nothing” scripted or manipulated on-screen.” Unfortunately, we know this to not be 100% true. From creating drama where there isn’t any, or avoiding ingenious self-built solutions entirely, the show has consistently picked the best footage to give their story the direction they felt made the most sense. Some competitors have complained that the show completely disregarded their struggles and accomplishments, for fabricated story lines.

Ten – The producers aren’t afraid to push – even past the breaking point. Honora Bowen is a well -nown Naked and Afraid contestant whose emotional frailty was used for dramatic effect. Bowen’s father had passed away only months before her challenge was to begin in Brazil. Before his death, the two of them had discussed the one item she should take with her, and her Father made an offhand remark that she should take magnifying glass, because you could use it with the sun to start a fire, as well as help in purifying the water.

Naked and Afraid producers gave her a magnifying glass but asked her to refer to it as “my Dad’s magnifying glass” as if it was a treasured family heirloom.  They made her say this over and over again, to the point in which she began to get upset about it. She said she resented having to “pretend that this inanimate object had a sentimental value.” 

It’s tough to know how much of Naked and Afraid is real or real fake, but these 10 facts certainly suggest viewers are not exactly watching a documentary. Good TV needs heroes and villains, triumph and sorrows, and sometimes those shows need a bit of a nudge to get there. So, while Naked and Afraid may be captivating television, it’s clear that when it comes to bending the rules to create a little extra drama, the producers were anything but afraid.

Thanks for watching The Naked Truth about TV’s Naked & Afraid. Had you heard any of these facts, or was this all news to you? Did you hear any we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments. And if you enjoyed the video, make sure to hit the like button and subscribe to Facts Verse for more videos!

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