Discovery’s newest survival-based series, Men, Women, Wild tests whether real-life couples can conquer a unique 21-day survival experience armed only with limited supplies and each other. The six-episode series will follow three couples as they attempt to survive in three very different environments with limited supplies.
Let’s meet the crew!
Matt Stevens (29) & Ali Stevens (33)
Survival Location: Southern Mexico
Hometown: Spokane, WA
Occupation: Matt is an elite survival instructor with the U.S. Air Force, and Ali is a personal trainer, yoga instructor and a full-time mom.
Marital Status: Matt and Ali have been married for six years and have three children between them including a 15-year-old, a 9-year-old and a 4-year-old.
Basically, they’re bad-asses. Matt’s career takes him away from home for weeks at a time on survival experiences and now, Ali is getting in on the experience. Matt’s advice to his wife is, “Don’t die.”
Justin Cook (32) & Jenny Cook (34)
Survival Location: Norway
Hometown: Montgomery, AL
Occupation: Justin is an Environmental Scientist; Jenny is a Regional City Planner
Marital Status: Justin and Jenny have been married for two years. They do not have children.
The duo are self-taught primitive survivalists. They foresee Norway’s cold weather as their biggest challenge and joke that their footwear of choice are flip-flops.
Mitchell Langon (40) & Jhoanna Trias (40)
Survival Location: Morocco
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
Occupation: The couple owns a survival supply company together.
Marital Status: Mitchell and Jhoanna are not married. They have been dating for two and a half years and do not have children.
One of the most interesting things about them is that they live in a camper! Mitchell is a survival expert and Jhoanna is using this experience to decide if it’s time to take their relationship to the next level, or walk away. “If I can show Jhoanna that I can get her through this, that’ll show her that we were meant to be together,” says Mitchell.
Each team is given a flare gun (aka “the quitter gun”) as well as a backpack. Anything that the teams can fit into the pack can be brought along. It’s not very big, so the survivalists carefully select items that might be able to serve multiple purposes in their unique location. As they are packing, I am so glad to see that someone has packed a skin balm. No access to lip or hand lotion would drive me crazy. I would also need a nail file. I see many of the tools that other Naked and Afraid fans have noted they’d want to have in a survival situation: water purification kits, mosquito netting, tarp (what I’d bring on Naked and Afraid), etc.
Matt & Ali get a Naked and Afraid-like insertion in the form of a ride down a river on a boat. Ali is looking to up her survival game and prove to her kids that she’s as accomplished as her husband. “We’re bad asses, and we don’t quit.” says Matt.
As we know from Naked and Afraid, everything in Mexico wants to hurt you: the biting bugs, the poking trees and deadly snakes even the ferocious jaguar that prowl the land.
In Morocco, Mitchell is in his element and Jhoanna is coming to the realization that she’s no longer the boss. She’s not used to depending on someone else and admits that she has trust issues. M&J get the worst survival insertion in history on the back of a toddler-sized motorbike.
Morocco’s high-country looks so barren that I think finding food will be their biggest challenge. And dealing with Jhoanna’s ever-chipper voice. During their three-week adventure, they’ll have to traverse from the base of La Cathedral Mountain over the Atlas Mountain range and end up at the village of Zoiat.
It looks hecka inhospitable in Norway — cold, wet and snowy. Justin and Jenny are above the Arctic Circle and it’s the sunny season, the time of year when the sun never sets. And although the sun is up, it’s not bright, cheerful daslight that they’re used to. It’s eerily blue-ish. I like Justin and Jenny. If I lived in Mobile, or they lived in Milwaukee, I think we’d hang out. They’re team-focused, laid back and funny.
Jenny: “In our relationship, neither one of us wears the pants.”
Justin: “The best relationships don’t involve pants”
Jenny: “Very true, we don’t wear any pants. What pants?”
They both reveal that they plan to throw the flare gun off the side of a cliff if the other wants to quit. Since the sun never sets, Jenny is worried that the lack of a dark night will mess with their circadian rhythms. I say, “F@#$ circadian rhythms!” Think of all you’ll accomplish with constant daytime, no darkness = no animals strolling into camp when it’s dark. Also, I don’t think Norway has a big snake problem, so this would be the location I’d most want.
Over in Morocco, a windstorm and rain is upon them in what seems like seconds. As 51-mph gusts whip against their bodies, they’re pelted by sand and debris and Mitchell’s long, godlike hair is whipped everywhere. Before the rain soaks everything, Jhoanna scurries into the windstorm to collect firewood and Mitchell starts building a rudimentary shelter out of garbage bags.
Over in Mexico, Matt & Ali are still hacking through the jungle. They finally emerge around one of the world’s most beautiful waterfalls. And when I see rushing water, Matt sees a bridge. Once they’re across, they look for a place to camp. Matt starts playing lumberjack and hacks everything in sight.
Ali worries that Matt has used all of his energy in this initial burst. As soon as Matt takes a rest, he begins vomiting from exhaustion. And in a feat of sickness skill, he pukes from atop the shelter. Why throw up in one central place when you get high and make it go everywhere?
Ali doesn’t like seeing her husband barf, but Matt assures his wife that he’s fine. Matt and Ali’s efforts haven’t been all for naught, their elevated platform is pretty sweet. And possibly fragrant.
Norway is soggy. The snow has turned the fjord into a sponge. The find the driest spot possible and set up camp. They packed a pretty substantial tarp-based shelter. Once they have a shelter, Justin builds a bow drill and attempts to make primitive fire. The wood is wet and doesn’t work, but he and Jenny put the bow and spindle into their sleeping bag with them to help it dry overnight. They’ll try again in the morning.
Once the wind and rain dissipate, fire is on Mitchell and Jhoanna’s mind. They packed a block of magnesium in their backpack and with a few deft strikes from a blade and some great kindling, they have a toasty fire. I like how Mitchell explained exactly what he was doing to Jhoanna, so that she can do it next time.
That night, Matt and Ali’s Mexican perch is inundated with bugs that inexplicably squeeze through their mosquito netting. Perhaps chitras are attracted to the perfume of fresh vomit? And after a sleepless night, Ali is already distraught. Fatigue and hunger have already taken a toll on Ali. “I’m a plain Jane, I’m a wife, so what?” she cries.
It’s morning for Justin and Jenny, although the sky looks exactly like it has the entire time they’ve been in Norway. Light-ish. With the start of a new day, it’s time to make fire. Their snug little bodies did a great job of drying their kit and they have a cheerful fire cracking in no time. Now that they have fire, they can begin to sterilize water.
Justing brought a bow in the pack and starts making arrows. note: their climate is a lot colder than the others, so their pack was larger — about the size of a military duffel. In a blink of TV time, Justin has a sweet-looking arrow that looks worthy of a national park gift shop and is ready to head up the mountain to hunt. He wants to catch food any way he can, and sets snares along the way. Jenny stays back at camp to tend the fire and boil water.
Jhoanna and Mitchell are camped alongside a river, so they’re using their mosquito net to try and catch small fish. Their nets some up with lots of little fish, so they’re supping tonight. Their bounty is a true feast.
After 4 hours in a tree, Justin hasn’t even taken a single shot. He dejectedly returns to Jenny and camp. It’s a hungry night.
After her freak-out, Ali has refocused herself and builds a gorgeous fish basket. They set it and get back to camp in time for a massive rainstorm that douses them all night long. No sleep for Ali again.
We’re only three days in to the 21-day survival experience, let’s check in with our couples.
Mitchell and Jhoanna have fire, shelter and food. They’re feeling like pros.
Justin and Jenny have shelter, but no food. Sooo hungry.
Matt and Ali have a great shelter, but they have no food, lots of bugs. Ali has struggled mentally and wants to quit. Matt wants her to stay and Ali threatens that if he forces her to continue, it will jeopardize their marriage. Matt is forced to choose between the adventure, or his wife. He makes the obvious choice saying, “For everyone who’s watching, for everyone who’s listening, your wife and your family is way more important.” Matt would rather give up on the challenge than give up on his wife. While they hold hands for solidarity and support, Ali fires the flare and poor Matt can’t even watch.
Next week, a new couple takes Matt and Ali’s place in Mexico, Justin and Jenny get hungry, and the challenge takes a toll on Mitchell and Jhoanna’s relationship.