‘Naked and Afraid’ Participant Honora Bowen Could be the Most Controversial to Grace the Show

The premise of the Discovery reality TV show Naked and Afraid sounds a little intimidating to many people. Contestants are dropped into the wilderness with only one personal item and no clothes. Then they have to find a way to survive for 21 days under the camera’s constant stare. But if that sounds wild, Naked and Afraid XL is the next step up in scary. Contestants have to make their way in the wilderness for 40 days in this super-sized wilderness challenge.

Since it’s reality TV, you can be sure the stress of the struggle leads to drama. One of the contestants, Honora Bowen, excelled in the quest for drama – and it didn’t end when the show did. 

Two women sitting on the ground on 'Naked and Afraid'
Naked and Afraid | Discovery

Honora Bowen had a rough first try

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Bowen was on the original 21-day Naked and Afraid challenge in 2015, according to Discovery. She and another contestant named Matt Strutzel were taken to a remote area of Brazil and left to survive. Strutzel had brought a machete he’d made himself, while Bowen had only a magnifying glass that was supposed to help her purify water. Her water purifying plan turned out to be laborious and inefficient, while Strutzel’s machete and hard work enabled him to make significant progress on finding food and setting up shelter. 

However, when Strutzel refused to help her with her water plan, she pitched a fit, called him fat, told him he smelled bad, and she demanded that he take apart the shelter they’d been sharing, so she could have half the resources. Then she struck out on her own, only to collapse shortly after, requiring medical help and forfeiting the competition.  

The second round wasn’t much better

Just a few months later Bowen was back for another try, this time in the 40 day XL version of the challenge. This time she was placed on a team with two men, Chris Fischer and Luke McLaughlin. This time they were each given two survival tools and left to fend for themselves in the wilds of Colombia. 

If anyone expected Bowen had learned her lesson from her temper tantrum on the first show, she was about to prove them wrong. The tension grew between the contestants until Bowen became so upset that she started sabotaging her own team, as reported by Entertainment Weekly. She started destroying and throwing away their survival tools, tossing a knife and a machete into the river, throwing a fire starter into the fire, and tossing wire cable into the woods to be lost. After she had reduced her team’s tools from six down to one, she actually cried that she felt attacked. Finally, she gave up and left the show.

After the show aired, Bowen wrote a blog, calling the show a “Nazi experiment,” which then caused the show’s producers to threaten her with a lawsuit, according to ScreenRant. But if her teammates and the producers weren’t happy with her, the show’s fans were truly disgusted.

The viewers weren’t impressed 

When the show aired, the reaction was swift. Viewers couldn’t believe Bowen’s erratic and selfish behavior, and they took to Twitter to let the world know. 

“You’re an embarrassment of a human,” one person tweeted succinctly, while another elaborated, “honora bowen you are one of the most selfish human beings ever seen you are absolutely ridiculous and a joke.”

People pointed out that Bowen was behaving the same as she had the first time around. “And somewhere Honora Bowen’s partner from Brazil is screaming ‘I told you so!’ at the television set.”

Bowen wasn’t able to stick it out through either challenge, but her behavior left an impression that will live on much longer than the contest ever could.