'Naked And Afraid' Does This Reality TV Show Go Too Far?
YAHOO.COM - Discovery Channel is baring it all for its new survival series.
Several other reality survival series have already tested participants' ability to hunt and create shelter. Discovery chose to up the ante, dropping cast members into remote, wild locations–completely nude. The show is sure to test the limits of what the public will accept from reality shows.
"Naked and Afraid" will feature two complete strangers, one man and one woman, for 21 days as they attempt to survive and navigate their way to a predetermined extraction point, one to 10 miles from their drop-off location. Each episode features a different couple in a different location and will premiere June 23.
As part of the show, the survivalists' are allowed one personal item of their choosing. They are also given a "rudimentary map" and Go Pro cameras, "which were rolling at all times," according to Denise Contis, an executive producer on the show.
While navigating the terrain of the Maldives, Panama and Boreo may have been a first time experience for the participants, all of whom classify themselves as "survivalists," nudity is no longer uncharted water for the network.
"Naked Castaway," which premiered in April, featured explorer Ed Stafford as he survived for 60 days sans food, clothing or tools on a deserted Fijian island.
"We wanted scenarios that are so real they are unreal," said Contis, referring to the premise of "Naked and Afraid."
The cable network, which has produced such documentaries as "Planet Earth" and "Africa" and built their non-fiction programming with "Shark Week," has increasingly turned from documentaries to the unscripted reality genre to attract new viewers.
"We are telling a magnetic story with compelling characters and a vicarious exploration," said Contis. "'Naked and Afraid' touches all or a lot of the key components to our programming."
In addition to the survivalists' camera footage, a four-person crew tracked and shot the couple at all times. Once a day everyday, producers would collect the memory cards from the participants' cameras and check the batteries.
The crew got involved on more than one occasion, when people were depleted or in an emergency situation. But Contis said she does not believe that interfered with the overall show. "There is no manipulation, no element of scripted reality," she said.
When asked about the potential dangers for the participants, Contis said, "I don't know that they were very clearly in danger. They were placed in this location, where and how they survived and if they traveled at all, that was up to them."
Executive producer Steven Rankin was bitten by a Fer-de-lance snake during filming and nearly lost his foot in Costa Rica. He later tweeted a gruesome photo of his injury.
Contis also denied that Discovery was aiming for any shock value. "It's the ultimate survival show. Neither of them have clothes and by the time they are on the ground it is a complete non-issue."
From a production standpoint, Contis also said that the show was not shot any differently due to the participants' nudity, and that certain areas would be blurred out for broadcast.
The show went through a 10-month pre-production development period, where locations were scouted and the participants were chosen.
Discovery Channel, part of Discovery Communications, is distributed to 100 million homes in the U.S. and over 180 countries.
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