Discovery's Naked and Afraid has earned a reputation similar to that of other reality shows. Some contestants claim there are myriad ways the show isn't real, stating not only were they misrepresented, but that Naked and Afraid producers aired outright lies. Many contestants have done interviews or Reddit AMAs to share their stories, hoping to set the record straight about interactions with their partner, the crew, and locals.
If you've seen The Bachelor, Deadliest Catch, or any of the numerous Real Housewives shows, you've probably guessed that reality TV is scripted on some level. But Naked and Afraid has faked not only dialogue, but causes of injuries, the sources of contestants' food, and the supposed remoteness of the show's filming locations.
In one of several reported instances where contestants gained access to modern amenities, former participant Jeff Zausch said producers gave his partner a tampon while filming the show. Other stars claim to have stolen food and supplements like salt, chocolate, and Emergen-C from the locals and crew.
Honora Bowen, though, stated producers withheld prescription medication from her. If tampons are okay but prescriptions aren't, the producers have puzzling priorities.
In an interview, former contestant Phaedra Brothers says one of the crew members gave her a curry dish that caused food poisoning. The producers encouraged her to go on with the show, even though she would begin the challenge in a bad place health-wise.
When her episode was released, producers made it look like she drank dirty water and caused the illness herself. Brothers says she posted comments on the show's site about the truth, but Discovery deleted them because they didn't line up with the show's chosen narrative.
Considering every reality TV show has writers, how real things truly are should be pretty clear. Not only have participants said producers instigated fights, but that they also instructed participants to lie.
Honora Bowen said producers told her to say her magnifying glass was a gift from her father, when in reality the crew gave it to Bowen before the show. Bowen also said that her storyline, which revolved around her father's death, was predetermined.
Naked and Afraid claims contestants brave the wild solely for a sense of personal pride and accomplishment, but former contestants have revealed that Discovery offers an "incentive" to contestants who make it through the full 21-day challenge.
The monetary prize given to those who complete the show is estimated to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $20,000.