10 things I learned from the survivalist reality show Naked and Afraid:
1. After a few awkward minutes, no one will care if you’re naked in the wilderness.
2. There’s good naked and bad naked. (OK, I learned that one from Seinfeld, but I relearned it from Naked and Afraid.)
3. Fire good. (OK, this one’s from Young Frankenstein.)
4. When you’re starved for protein, a raw slimy tree grub will taste amazing.
5. Laying around slowly starving counts as surviving for 21 days.
6. Gotta stay hydrated.
7. You can’t tell how tough someone really is until about the sixth day of misery. In fact, the tougher they say they are, the more likely the meltdown will come.
8. Surviving is a lot different from thriving. Surthriving is badass, but then, so is surviving.
9. Lazy jerks are among the worst people to be around.
10. Reality TV is not real.
After binge-watching Naked and Afraid, I knew enough to get a good meal in me before heading out into the wilderness.
On a beautiful summer’s day, my husband and I fortified ourselves with lobster rolls and gelato, then searched and searched for the trailhead to the Branford Trolley Trail.
A quick path to a foot bridge took us deep into an idyllic marsh, complete with a gentle tide rushing in over clumps of seagrass and the encompassing sounds of birds and insects.
We spotted several large white birds, but we know we never could have caught one if placed in a survivalist situation.
A crab would have been a goner, though, when it sidled right across our path. As the survivalists say, “Protein!”
We did partake of some wild raspberries. Sugar!
We passed on these possibly poisonous berries. We passed on some wild rhubarb too.
We definitely would have survived from this bounty, at least for a while, when we’d be ready for some more New England seafood. We did both get bit by horseflies, and I don’t even want to imagine how bad the mosquitos would be here at night.
Have you seen Naked and Afraid? Does it make you imagine you’re foraging for food when you’re in the wilderness?
P.S. When Naked and Afraid XL began, I was fascinated by the premise. Various survivalists were dropped in the wilderness in Colombia. They joined up into small groups, and then some of them started to meet up with the others. There are little glimmers of truly intriguing situations. Changing group dynamics. Division of labor. Territorialism. Ostracism. The beginnings of a modern hunter-gatherer society. What could have been an amazing documentary about all of these issues and more is instead aiming for the staged drama of a lowbrow reality show. It seems obvious that they are manipulating the dynamics rather than letting them unfold. It is a TV show, after all, but I had hoped for more and would like to see an actual documentary of this type of situation.
P.P.S. No crabs were injured in the making of this blog post.
Hike along the Branford Trolley Trail