TV’s pixelation technology gets put to the ultimate test in a new Discovery Channel reality series in which participants are challenged to survive in the wild without clothing.
The aptly titled “Naked and Afraid” premiered just last Sunday (June 30) on Discovery, where it will be seen for the bulk of the summer, Sunday nights at 10/9c.
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Never before in the history of television has pixelation been as necessary as it is on this show, which each week introduces a new couple who will be challenged to survive — in a jungle and in the buff — with no discernible tools or even matches to help them (though they are apparently accompanied by film crews, producers and, hopefully, medical personnel).
This jungle is no Garden of Eden. In last Sunday’s premiere, naked survivalist Shane crept up on a deadly snake that he said already bit — and nearly killed — the show’s executive producer. Though Shane and partner Kim were apparently starving, he used some kind of weapon he seemingly fashioned from a tree branch to kill the snake for revenge rather than sustenance, since it didn’t seem as if he and Kim were planning to eat the reptile.
For the record, this jungle is in Costa Rica. Each week’s survival challenge lasts 21 days (if the participants last that long). The participants are pre-screened, examined and tested for their fitness to take on the challenge. Last week’s couple were described as “survivalists” who apparently participate in these kinds of activities in their private life as sort of a hobby (at least, that was our impression).
We’re not sure what part of the year they filmed this show in, but it was definitely rainy in last week’s premiere. So, in addition to being nude (with private parts pixelated or otherwise “fuzzed” or “blurred” electronically), Kim and Shane were wet, dirty, hungry and, we assume, bug-bitten.
“It’s really hard to stay warm when its wet and cold and you have no clothes,” Kim complained at one point while the rain poured down on them. Well, maybe she should have thought about that before she agreed to participate on this show.
“Naked and Afraid” is one of those shows that makes you wonder why on earth a person would agree to participate in such a thing. On “Naked and Afraid,” there is no “prize” for surviving other than self-satisfaction.
To us, the show represents another milestone in the evolution of TV, particularly reality TV, because it had us thinking about another survival show from long ago featuring another naked participant. That show, of course, was the sensational first season of “Survivor” in summer 2000 that was won by corporate trainer Richard Hatch, whose strategy included strolling around naked in the show’s tropical island setting as a way of unnerving some of his competitors.
Hatch’s strategy back then was shocking. Now, 13 years later, an entire survival series requires that the participants be nude. Go figure.