×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Naked & Afraid

Discovery adventure series sets possible record for digitally obscured genitalia

With:
Narrator: Michael Brown.

Just the title “Naked & Afraid” already sounds like a ratings winner for Discovery Channel, if one that will no doubt be easily confused with latenight fare available on Cinemax. Putting the budget for digitally obscured genitalia to the test (think “Borat,” only not consciously played for laughs), each episode will pit a pair of survivalists against an exotic locale, trying to hold out for three weeks with no food, water or (drum roll, please) clothes. What ensues is pretty typical of the genre, but it’s still kind of a risible kick, if only for how seriously the show takes itself.

A self-described “Everest of survival challenges,” the series promises — and then frequently restates — that the participants are accompanied by only a small crew with “clear instructions not to intervene unless there is a medical emergency.” In other words, it’s very important to believe these people might die, even if the constant repetition of the stakes sounds like the template for a drinking game.

The premiere pairs Shane Lewis, 40, with Kim Shelton, 22, in the jungle of Costa Rica. He insists on calling her “kiddo,” and professes to have little respect for twentysomethings. They meet cute — already naked, out in the wild — and proceed to snipe at each other while enduring pounding rain, foreboding elements and the struggle to find food.

Unlike a lot of similarly themed fare (see TNT’s “72 Hours”), “Naked” doesn’t build a contest into the format; the sheer challenge, combined with exotic travelogue and intended drama, are presumed to be enough to attract viewers, along with wondering exactly what that blurred video might be obscuring. About the closest the show comes to scorekeeping is in updating the duo’s PSR (Primitive Survival Rating, naturally) based on how they perform under the circumstances.

“It’s all about speed and how big your balls are,” Shane says as he prepares to kill a poisonous snake, conjuring a rather distracting image.

Beyond reality-TV antecedents (a la “Survivor’s” Richard Hatch), the most obvious cinematic parallels would be to “Castaway,” with a nod to “The Naked Prey” — that 1966 adventure oddity, with a stripped-down Cornel Wilde being hunted by murderous African tribesmen. Inasmuch as each episode is self-contained, those touchstones are significant, since the audience needs to do a bit of the work to fill in narrative gaps.

Still, the real goal of “Naked & Afraid” (a six-episode order, with different couples and venues) is as bare as its protagonists, intended to tap into our imagination about being shipwrecked, and provide Discovery a titillating concept to launch after daredevil Nik Wallenda completes (or doesn’t) his live high-wire walk across the Grand Canyon.

Discovery brass could try to argue “Naked’s” back-to-nature motif is more educational and illuminating than that, but attempting to do so would be a pretty good indicator of just how big their balls are.

Naked & Afraid

(Series; Discovery Channel, Sun. June 23, 10:20 p.m.)

Production: Produced by Renegade 83.

Crew: Executive producers, David Garfinkle, Jay Renfroe, Steve Rankin; co-executive producer, Robert Michael Kelly; supervising producer, Mathilde Bittner; supervising story producer, Richard Albrecht; camera, Derek Carver; music, Devin Powers. 60 MIN.

Cast: Narrator: Michael Brown.

More TV

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Showrunners, Screenwriters Back WGA in Agency Battle, Sides to Meet Again Tuesday

    More than 750 showrunners and screenwriters have backed the WGA’s battle against talent agencies taking packaging fees and other changes to the rules governing the business relationship between agents and writers. The letter of support issued Saturday is significant because of the immense clout showrunners and prominent screenwriters possess in Hollywood. Several showrunners had recently [...]

  • Norman Reedus and Ryan Hurst'The Walking

    Norman Reedus on 'The Walking Dead' Without Andrew Lincoln: 'He's With Me Every Day'

    After saying goodbye to most of the original cast on “The Walking Dead,” Norman Reedus still feels his former co-stars with him during each episode. “I’ve seen so many people come and go,” he said during a “Walking Dead” panel on Friday at PaleyFest. “Right now on the show, the ghosts of all those guys [...]

  • Series Mania: De Mensen, Reel One

    Series Mania: First Details on Co-Pro Pitching Project 'Capturing Big Mouth' (EXCLUSIVE)

    LILLE, France — Belgian production company De Mensen, which has just been acquired by France’s Newen, has teamed with Reel One Entertainment on a new cross-continental thriller series, “Capturing Big Mouth. The series will be pitched Monday at this year’s Series Mania Forum Co-pro Pitching section. It chronicles the unlikely rise and eventual fall of [...]

  • Daily Show Viacom

    Viacom, DirecTV Make Progress in Contract Talks, No Blackout After Deadline Passes

    UPDATED: Viacom and DirecTV executives went down to the wire Friday on a combative contract renewal negotiation with high stakes for both sides. The companies stayed in talks past the midnight Eastern contract expiration and the channels stayed up on AT&T’s platforms. Sources indicated early Saturday that the threat of a blackout had been averted. [...]

  • ABBY'S -- "Pilot" Episode 101 --

    TV Review: 'Abby's' Starring Natalie Morales

    “Abby’s,” NBC’s new comedy about a cranky bartender (Natalie Morales) and her inner circle of regulars, is aware of the inevitable “Cheers” comparisons. Created by “New Girl” writer Josh Malmuth and executive produced by uber-producer (and unabashed “Cheers” superfan) Mike Schur, “Abby’s” therefore makes a few key choices in order to differentiate itself as its [...]

  • Ryan Murphy Walk of Fame

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Sets Premiere Date for Ryan Murphy's 'The Politician'

    In today’s roundup, Netflix announces the premiere date for Ryan Murphy’s “The Politician” series, and Kristin Cavallari will host “Paradise Hotel” on Fox.  DATES Reality star Kristin Cavallari will host Fox’s reboot of “Paradise Hotel,” an unscripted dating show in which a group of singles will check into a tropical resort and compete to check [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content