Even though Naked and Afraid XL doesn’t officially start until July 10, Discovery premiered a “new” episode on July 3. “Why?” you ask. Because Discovery wants Kellie to miss the July 3 fireworks, that’s why. Because nothing says “Happy Birthday America” like 12 naked folks prancing about in South Africa. Or at least a clip show about what got them to this point. Let’s proceed.
This season we’re heading to South Africa’s Lebombo Mountains where a dozen Naked and Afraid alumni will spend 40 days and nights in an environment that will be breathtaking and soul-crushing. A South African safari is on many people’s bucket lists, and as Arnold Schwarzenegger recently learned, capturing the majesty of wild animals isn’t safe event if you’re fully clothed in a Jeep. How are folks gonna do it naked and out in the open?
Once again, Naked and Afraid has the worst luck in TV history, and is venturing to South Africa in the midst of the area’s worst drought in 50+ years. No rain= 1) thirsty survivalists, 2) little vegetative cover and 3) few resources spread amongst many animals. The survivalists are going to be faced with drinking the contents of elephant toilets. Mmmmm, elephant toilet water, — pretty much a guarantee of an intestinal virus. I am sure that some intrepid entrepreneur is already trying to market elephant toilet water as a weight-loss aid. It’ll be the next craze in packaged beverages after coconut water.
Let’s meet the survivalists:
Steven Lee Hall, Jr.
N&A episode: Alabama (Ending PSR 8.6)
Quote: “The crazy thing about Africa is that everything here wants to kill you.”
I love Steven’s positive attitude. He’s smart, relaxed, and has great confidence. I think he’ll inspire his teammates and stay upbeat in tough situations.
N&A episode: Florida (Ending PSR 7.9)
Quote: “It’s no Bull!@#$ out here, these things can annihilate me in seconds.”
Tawny’s life has a history of important people in her life abandoning her at critical moments, and on Naked and Afraid, that pattern repeated itself when her partner taped out on Day 6. TO Tawny’s credit, she completed her challenge alone and found new resilience in herself. Hopefully, all 11 of her XL partners wont give up on her.
N&A episode: Amazonia (Ending PSR: 8.0)
Quote: “Human growth comes from getting out of your comfort zone.”
I had a refreshing interview with Jake where he explained his motivation behind doing Naked and Afraid and what to expect from XL, and he shared four awesome survival skills.
Former Marine, marketing director
N&A episode: Cambodia (Ending PSR 4.8)
Quote: “You don’t have to be butch to be a badass.”
Carrie struggled with a partner who believed in “Slow Survival.” She’s looking forward to working with a strong team.
N&A episode: Panama (Ending PSR: 7.0)
Kim spent 17 days on her own after her partner told her that Marines don’t leave a man behind, and then promptly left her behind by dropping out. Kim had the last laugh by surviving alone for 17 days and discovering the delicacy, “Coconut Crotch Water.”
N&A episode: Yucatan (ending PSR 7.8)
Quote: “I like to look at it that I’m brave, more than crazy.”
In her first N&A experience, Alyssa learned that failure is okay, but if you persevere, you will eventually succeed.
N&A episode: Nicaragua (ending PSR 8.1)
Quote: “My biggest concern is personalities…”
In Nicaragua, Angel dealt with partner who broke down emotionally and had to complete his challenge alone. It will be nice to see how he fares with a strong teammate with a cooperative partner.
Mountain Man and wilderness guide
N&A episode: Everglades (ending PSR 8.3)
Quote: “All you have is time out here, there’s no need to rush anything.”
When Ryan appeared with fellow military member Amber, I was hopeful for a strong partnership. But when Amber tapped out on day 16, Ryan became an army of one and was one of the series’ most successful hunters. I can’t wait to see how he thrives with equally strong teammates.
Clarence Elroy Gilmer, II
Environmental Activist (and homeless)
N&A episode: Honduras (ending PSR: 7.2)
Quote: “Adapt, Migrate or Die.”
Clarence spent much of his survival experience by himself after first alienating his partner, and then alone after she tapped out. Clarence uses his past experience as a homeless person as his survival preparation. He is survival strategy is “lay low and don’t die,” which will undoubtedly annoy his more active partners.
N&A episode: India (ending PSR: 6.9)
I interviewed Phaedra after her N&A episode and appreciated her candor and insight into the production of the series. With a full 21 days of footage that producers must whittle into a 41-minute narrative, sometimes the tale that is presented on TV isn’t the whole story. Now, Phaedra is a brunette and is ready for a new challenge.
N&A episode: Thailand (ending PSR 8.2)
Quote: “Let’s get it on, Africa!”
Darrin A.K.A. “Rat Kabobs,” turned Thailand’s rat population into his personal buffet. He was a kid in a candy store and didn’t want to leave at the end of his 21st day. But he’s weird, and weird doesn’t always make you a popular teammate.
Stacey Lee Osario
Wildlife Biology Student
N&A episode: Croatia (Did not finish)
Stacey was accidentally burned during her Croatian ordeal, I was sad because she was awesome. I whooped out loud when I learned that she would be a part of N&A XL; this woman deserves the thrill of extraction.
The twelve participants are spread among four different areas: Pondo Ravine, Sotho Gorge, Swati Valley and Tsonga Basin.
Pondo Ravine will be habituated by Angel, Steven & Ryan — this year’s Alpha Males. Each of these men had their partner tap out and completed their challenges alone. How well will they work when part of a team? Initial Team PSR: 8.3 out of 10.0
Sotho Gorge will be home to Jake, Clarence and Stacey– Team Drama. I expect much of this season’s fun to come from this group. Jake is one of N&A’s most colorful and confident participants ever. And Clarence is one of the show’s laziest. Stacey’s adventure was cut short by a terrible burn suffered during her experience. Initial Team PSR: 7.4 out of 10.0.
Tsonga Basin is the home away from home for Carrie, Darrin & Kim- the game-changers. All three in this group are doers, who work tirelessly but with methods that others may deemed as unconventional. How will these square pegs work with others? Initial Team PSR: 6.7 out of 10.0.
The Swati Valley will girl-power central for Phaedra, Alyssa &Tawny, the tough all-female team. Each of these women is outspoken and possesses confidence. They work well as part of a team. Initial Team PSR: 7.5 out of 10.0
Over the next dozen or so weeks, these twelve people will see if they have what it takes to survive in one of the world’s most extreme environments. Who do you think will tap out? Who has what it takes to make it to the end? Who is your favorite? I really liked last year’s XL group at the get-go, but I really love this year’s group.