‘Naked and Afraid’: Women Typically Do Better On the Show — and Fans Love It

It might seem hard to believe that a reality show like Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid is already in its 11th season. The show has had its share of controversy over whether placing a naked man and woman out into the wild to survive was nothing but a cheap ratings grab. Then again, when watching the show more carefully, avid watchers can see more to it than just attracting curious viewers.

One could almost describe it as Adam and Eve in survival mode. At the same time, the male figure is not always the dominating figure. All the women involved over the years show their own individual sense of strength, making it a surprising TV favorite of women.

Naked and Afraid contestant Molly Jansen smiling on her porch
Naked and Afraid contestant Molly Jansen | Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Are women really exploited, or showing their best survival skills?

From initial appearances, having women strip down out in the wild on a basic cable TV show might seem like exploitation at its worst. At least all body parts are blurred out, if clear moments when the woman and man encounter one another in all their glory.

Standing out above the basic premise is the survival skills involved. Having to survive outdoors in challenging conditions without clothing (and only one personal resource) means the show is definitely not for the squeamish.

More often than not, the women have done better in surviving than the men have. In some cases, the men whine and sometimes quit due to the extreme conditions while the women thrive. If this might prove a clear distinction between the male and female mind, it also proves the show is meant to celebrate the best of women’s strength.

Fans on social media often mention how women always thrive

During this current season, each episode has increasingly interesting survivalist scenarios, including mixing things up a bit. In one episode, there was a matchup with two men and one woman, according to Heavy. Also, the basic premise this year is having contestants who participated before go back to it, this time alone.

As usual, things never go as planned, including showing some men cowering enough to quit after only a couple of days in the wild. The women, though, continue to make it, with particular interest this year on Lacey Jones.

Noted as an all-star survivalist, she was brought back this year for the third time. And, as seen with most women trying to survive this show, being naked is not made to look glamorous.

What is the secret to women doing better on Naked and Afraid?


Elle explored this question back in 2016. Some serious analysis went into it, even if no real scientific answer was available. Nevertheless, they did note one interesting thing: Men have more of a hunter instinct and women connect better to nature.

This alone may explain why the women do better since they never rebel against natural environments. They almost become one with nature by accepting what they encounter. In other words, they have a better survivalist instinct than men do.

Seeing strong women overcome the odds to win this show time and again is why it continues to thrive. Some men still manage to succeed, if sometimes with the help of teaming up with the woman. Perhaps no better hint exists there on how men and women should always work with one another.