Back when "Survivor" aired in 2000, there was no show like it. It combined the reality show element of strangers living together in "tribes" with few supplies trying to survive with the game show element of having to compete in competitions to win rewards and immunity in order to guarantee they could stay for one more week. There was also the drama element of "tribe" members conniving and plotting to vote each other off combined with the need for a "social game," so when the jury of those voted off decided at the end who should win, it would be you. It's all about "Outwit, Outlast, Outplay." "Survivor" has been on American TV for 15 years and continues to have good ratings.
So knowing how TV likes to take a popular concept and ratchet things up, as in, gee, "Survivor" has been so popular, let's make some more of those kinds of shows, then it's no surprise that the powers that be would say, hey, this time, let's make them take off their clothes!
For the uninformed, let me just say at the outset, "Naked and Afraid" is not a porn horror film. In fact, despite its lurid title, it's not the least bit prurient, unless you have a thing for butts. You get to see butts, "butt" that's about it.
"Naked and Afraid" is the real deal, a TV survival show that asks the question - how would two strangers, a man and a woman, survive 21 days in the wilderness with no clothes and no supplies save one item each may bring with them?
The survivalists are dropped in a very remote location such as a jungle in Costa Rica or the Serengeti Plain in Tanzania or a desert island in the Maldives. Did I say this show is also educational? You learn a lot about geography, as in, where the hell are the Maldives?
(Did I say this blog is also educational? If you click on my links, you will know.)
If they do survive, there is no $500,000 prize, which is what the "Survivor" winner gets. It's just some badass survivalists doing it for the bragging rights.
When I say "survivalists," the "contestants," if you can call them that, compete with varying levels of survival skills. You might have an ex-Green Beret adept at eating worms paired with an ex-stripper who walked the Appalachian Trail by herself. The show gives each a PSR (Primitive Survival Rating - a score out of 10) at the outset and then re-evaluates them after the 21 days, or however long they can make it.
A camera crew follows them but may not intercede unless there is a life threatening situation or the contestant wants to "tap out," which is "Naked and Afraid" talk for "get me the hell out of here. I'm done!"
It's pretty brutal. The survivalists have to endure hunger and thirst and other inconveniences such as horrible sunburns, insect bites and being stalked by cougars. I would think it would also be really, really boring since you can't bring a book or your cell phone.
So as I watch the show, I can't help but wonder what it would be like if I went on the show?
I have some skills.
I would be a very good conversationalist with my partner, regaling him with synopses of movies and books and the importance of libraries. I could sing parts of Beatles songs for entertainment and since I am a hard worker, gather berries or whatever stuff is around.
My PSR is 1.1, which could be better. That might be because I said I wanted to wear clothes and that my biggest foray into nature was watching nature shows on TV and driving with the top down (If you want to take the test, here it is).
I would need to choose my personal item that I am bringing with me.
On the show, this is usually a fire starter, a machete, a pot to boil water in or something like that. I would bring a muumuu. I wouldn't want my partner and the viewing public to be horrified when I took off my clothes. However, since the show is called "Naked and Afraid," I guess that wouldn't qualify for the "naked" part so failing the muumuu, I would bring a big needle and some heavy thread so I could sew myself a leaf skirt and coconut bra as soon as possible thus sparing us both, and the viewing public, quite a bit of unpleasantness.
But since we have to meet without clothes, I need to think of a witty thing to say when we first meet.
The contestants always say something cute or funny about the fact they are meeting each other for the first time without clothes. They say such things as "We are wearing the same outfit" or "Fancy meeting you in a Colombian jungle. Do you do this often?"
I would say "Don't look down. My eyes are my best feature."
And no way am I giving him a hug! Ew!
After we meet, we must find a spot to set up camp.
This might include a day's hike through rugged terrain. This is when I am wishing my personal item had been sunblock because, when growing up, my brother did not call me "Casper," as in Casper the Friendly Ghost, for nothing. My skin is so pale, Procol Harum wrote a song about it.
So I decide to cover myself with mud (good thing we are not on the Serengeti Plain) thus solving part of that "naked" thing as well. Hopefully we will not set up camp on top of a red ant colony. That would not be good.
As we are setting up camp, I would ask him if he is married. If so, I would have to figure out how to broach the topic of spooning while sleeping. It can get very cold at night and it's going to be bad enough trying to sleep with rats and insects crawling all over us. I will explain to him that I am used to a little poodle cuddling up next to me in bed.
Once we are settled, finding water and food will be the most important task.
I will remind him that I am very squeamish and cannot possibly kill a living thing. He will have to do that. I will eat berries and seaweed, and kill two birds with one stone (animal lovers, pardon the reference) by maintaining my love of wildlife and losing at least 25 pounds at the same time. But I can spend my time weaving baskets or something or boiling water in a bamboo stick. This is when I wish I had brought a pot from home and start whining about how thirsty and bored I am.
As the days go by, I am becoming increasingly bitchy about the lack of amenities and the fact that my partner refuses to talk about his feelings. We get in a huge fight and I stomp off to a rock (these things always happen on the show).
After several more nights of no sleep, the silent treatment and getting tired of chewing seaweed, I decide this is not working. I have already missed three episodes of "Dance Moms," so I decide to tap out, realizing that I don't have what it takes to be "Naked and Afraid."
As I think about my imagined experience, I have come up with a new TV series idea especially for us Baby Boomers, who now make up 25% of the population.
Here are some tips for the producers to get seniors to compete on the show.
- "Partially naked" works much better for us seniors. Some of us have saved our faces. Some of us have saved out butts. Either way, we are not likely to be that stoked about flaunting our naughty bits to the general viewing public unless we are nudists. What we can flaunt is our biggest asset - the great wisdom we have acquired over the years, which we feel the viewing public should hear, even though our kids won't listen to us. I also recommend shoes.
- Scooters or walkers, depending on the terrain, should be provided for those of us who have trouble walking. We don't mind if you have to put some camo on them.
- Each contestant should get a swag bag containing a fire starter, a pot for boiling water, a machete, a blanket, sun screen, bear spray, a fishing rod, some smoked salmon, some mascara, toilet paper and a couple of magazines. Why make us choose which item to bring ourselves or to be bored out of our minds? It's too hard to decide and we are used to our little comforts these days. We should also have the option of bringing our dog in case our partner is a dud. My dog likes to spoon.
- Medications should be allowed (some of us seniors have "issues"). "Medications" can be defined as pills, coffee, a case of wine or some Knob Creek.
- Pajamas. I am willing to be partially naked during the day, but if I am going to sleep in some makeshift lean-to with no blanket, we seniors need our flannel jimmy-jams.
- And about those locations. Why can't we be partially naked and afraid in Tuscany? I'm sure it's scary at night and I would be very afraid after coming back from an evening of wine and small plates at the local osteria.
- Also I think the time out there should be cut down to seven days. I don't want to miss too many of my shows.
- And it wouldn't hurt if there was a defibrillator and some Viagra. At our age, it can go either way. Or both. You never know. I'm just sayin'.
You may think this is all very silly, but even just imagining ourselves in situations outside of our comfort zones gives us awareness about ourselves.
I now know I don't have what it takes to be "Naked and Afraid," and I'm not even certain I could do "Partially Naked and Afraid," so maybe I should just try camping.
Or maybe not.
Do you have want it takes to be
"Partially Naked and Afraid?"
See you Friday
for my review of the new movie
The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)
and the latest on
My 1001 Movies I Must See Before
My 1001 Movies I Must See Before
I Die Project."
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