‘Naked and Afraid’ Participants Reported Hearing Club Music in Brazil

The participants on Discovery’s reality TV show Naked and Afraid give up all the comforts of home (and their clothes) to test their survival skills in the wild. They’re sent to some of the wildest areas in the world to see if they can make it for 21 days with only their wits, a partner, and one survival tool. As the participants battle hunger, thirst, and dangerous situations, it can seem as though they’re living on another planet from the rest of us. 

But sometimes that illusion is fractured, at least for the contestants. The viewers at home may not see that part of the experience, but sometimes the outside world finds its way into their wilderness.

Naked and Afraid
EJ and Kellie | Naked and Afraid | Discovery Channel

A pristine wilderness in Brazil

In 2014, the show went to Brazil with two contestants, Honora Bowen and Matt Strutzel. The area they were left in was definitely untamed, with miles of white sand dunes and little water. Bowen had a magnifying glass to purify the water that they could find, which didn’t turn out to be the most efficient method. 

Thirst wasn’t the only difficulty they were going to face, though. Bowen turned out to be emotionally volatile, eventually getting so upset that she told Strutzel that she was going her own way without him, and demanding that he dismantle the shelter, so she could take half the materials for herself, according to Heavy.

In the end, that wasn’t enough for her. Bowen seemed to blackout (which she later confessed was faked) and was removed from the show

Their wilderness wasn’t so far from civilization

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Even though it looked as though Strutzel and Bowen were hundreds of miles from anyone, they weren’t actually that far from a town. ScreenRant reports that at night, they could hear the techno beats from a disco close by. Sometimes they could hear cars nearby, and they even spotted people playing soccer. One day when Bowen was swimming in a lagoon she found a fishing shack that belonged to some locals. She took some tools and food from the shack, but the show’s producers made her return them since robbery isn’t really a survival skill. 

This isn’t an unusual occurrence, either. The show is often filmed close to a town, such as when they put the contestants in an area in Florida. While it looked remote, it was possible to walk to Disney World in a day from where they were. The show’s producers are careful to remove the signs of civilization from the final show because they would spoil the illusion of isolation. 

But although they have to work harder to hide it from the viewers, they have good reasons for placing the contestants in areas that have towns nearby.

This is why they stay close to towns

It’s easy to forget when you’re watching the show that the contestants aren’t actually alone. They’re constantly being followed by an entire crew of people. Camera operators, production crew members, and show producers have to get to the location every day, and they also need someplace to sleep every night. To keep the crew all together and organized, that means they need to find wilderness with amenities not too far away. 

It’s also important to be near medical care if someone gets seriously hurt, such as the time a producer was bitten by a venomous snake in Costa Rica, as reported by The Travel. If he had needed to wait any longer than he did for care, the bite could have been lethal. Reality shows must be prepared to deal with traumatic events, and for this bunch, that means staying close to other people.

Naked and Afraid isn’t always what you see in the finished product. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a real challenge — even when the contestants can hear the thump of the nightlife nearby.