By: Mary Fran Bontempo

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naked and afraid logoIt happens every time I sit on the beach. Some flabby, half-naked person walks by, wearing an ill-fitting, totally inappropriate bathing suit with butt cheeks and arse cracks all hanging out (it’s not just women, either) and all I can think is , “Yeah! Lemme see some more of that! Woooooo!” Um, NOT.

But apparently, The Discovery Channel has decided that half-naked and out of shape isn’t enough. We need all naked. Welcome to the latest preposterous, nonsensical, train-wreck of a show that you just can’t look away from: Naked and Afraid, airing Sundays at 10 PM.

The premise is insane, but simple. A la other survival shows, people are dropped in the middle of nowhere and asked to survive hellish conditions. The catch? These lunatics are totally naked. Hence the “naked” of the title.

Each show teams a man and a woman, strangers, who ostensibly have survival skills to help them through the challenge. They are each allowed to choose one survival item and are then dropped at a meeting point where they strip off their clothes and meet to start their “adventure.” And we get to watch. Yay.

Fortunately, Discovery blurs some of the “naughty bits” but it’s open season on butts. It’s all butt, all the time, with enough rear views of these nut jobs walking through the jungle/woods/beach, butt cheeks flopping in the breeze, to fill a lifetime quota of butt cheek viewing.

I’m not sure if this is supposed to be titillating. Personally, I’m not a fan of butts. Maybe it’s because of their function, but I’ll pass. Even the butt of a handsome man is no thrill for me. At several points in the movie Flight, Denzel Washington bares his bum for the camera. Now, I love me some Denzel. But Denzel’s hiney? Nothing. Seeing him stride down a hallway in a full pilot’s uniform? Oh yeah. Now that gets my juices flowing.

The thing is, I’ve watched every stupid episode of Naked and Afraid since it first aired. I’ve seen people get chewed alive by sand flies, vomit after consuming contaminated water and food, shriek in pain as thorns are dug out of unprotected feet. Sounds like a giggle-fest, huh? And I’m not even sure why people do it. There’s no prize money at the end. Nothing except the right to say you have what it takes to “survive naked and afraid,” as a sonorous voice intones at the end of every broadcast.

When did this become something people aspire to? Haven’t we spent millions of years figuring out how to clothe, house and protect ourselves just so we don’t have to “survive naked and afraid?” And most of us know not to set up camp on the “Island from Hell.” We’re smart enough to skip “Punishment in Panama” and “The Jungle Curse” (all episode titles), as well.

Yet, there is one thing that’s consistently engrossing about the program. So far, on every episode, it’s the big, burly guy that ends up whining like a baby while the woman gets on with it. The tough guys complain about everything, including the women, and regularly go off to pout, while the gals find the food, make the fire, and soothe bites, cuts and bruises with plants. (And why someone hasn’t smuggled a lighter on the show is beyond me. There are places to put things even if you’re “naked and afraid,” you know.) To their credit, the men always acknowledge their partner’s toughness. Grudgingly, but they acknowledge it.

Of course, any woman can tell you that’s usually how it goes. We put our heads down and do what has to be done. Oh, we do our share of grousing, but the job gets done. We don’t quit until it does.

Which is, I suppose, why Discovery added the naked and afraid parts. If they didn’t , the program would just be a take on an ordinary woman’s life.

And we don’t need to watch TV to experience that.

What’s your take on Naked and Afraid? Click “comments” below and share!