While the rest of America pretended to be entertained by the NFL draft, I treated myself to a reality show that’s got entertainment value in spades. The show I am referring to is called Naked and Afraid. If you haven’t seen it, you are most likely under the impression that I am writing about an HBO late-night-soft-core porno or maybe a slasher film, but you are sadly mistaken. If you have seen it, you can go ahead and skip down a paragraph or two, while I explain the plot to these other idiots.
Two survivalists, one man, one woman, (who are either ex-military or that person you tell your kids not to stare at in downtown Los Angeles) are stripped of everything, including their clothes, and dropped into hostile environments. First they are assigned a P.S.R. or a “Primitive Survival Rating”, which takes attributes like mental toughness, experience and probably insanity and assigns them a score out of ten; with a one being the lowest and a ten being a Katniss Everdeen. They are given one survival item each, which usually ends up being a hatchet/machete and a flint….or fire starter…thing…. and then they are sent off into some ridiculous jungle, desert or swamp. The challenge: see if they can survive in the wilderness for 21 days completely naked and completely afraid.
What I really want to do is talk about the last episode which takes place in Bolivia. This is probably the best episode I have seen and it ended in suspense and mystery. But first, some quick background info about Bolivia, it is located in South America and it is pretty much like every other South American Country. Or in other words, It is hot, everyone likes soccer, there is probably a rainforest or two, a couple panthers, and a few dozen old ladies carrying baskets on their heads. Anyways, the reason this episode is so crazy is not because of the environment, but because of the female cast member, Sabrina. With a P.S.R. score of only 6.7, she falls somewhere between Dora the Explorer and a cameraman on Man vs. Wild. She then goes on to do three of the strangest, most memorable things, I have ever seen on reality TV.
1) Sabrina starts by introducing herself as an “American Witch”. If I am her male co-survivor, all i’m thinking is Shit!! Mainly because everyone knows that muggles are better suited for primitive survival because they haven’t been babied by their magical abilities all their lives. Plus, this witch is not a cool witch like Hermione or Selena Gomez, she is one of the bad ones… like the redheaded witch from Hocus Pocus. Throughout the 21 days, she wastes her energy making little witchy sculptures that look like what goth kids draw in their notebooks. Meanwhile, her partner is contracting, and I quote, “three kinds of jungle diseases”, including Malaria! So, either this lady was casting spells on him from day one or he was just off on his own rolling up jungle plants and smoking them. In the end, it says his recovery is on-going. I just want to take a second to truly appreciate the craziness that took place here. What other reality show has witches and people actually getting fatal diseases on the set? That guy is either dead or dying and he had a P.S.R. score of 8-point-something which only puts him a little bit behind Liam Neeson.
2) Her partner eventually gave up and was probably air-lifted to the best medical facility in Bolivia or in other words, the airport where he was then immediately flown to the U.S. where the doctors wear shoes. Completely alone, Sabrina decides to pursue what I like to call, “The Wilson Approach“. The Wilson Approach comes from the hit film Castaway. In the movie, although I am sure you have seen it, Tom Hanks is trapped on an island for years all by himself. During his time he befriends a volleyball that washed up on shore with him. He draws a face on the ball, names it Wilson, and then proceeds to talk to it all the way up to the moment when Wilson floats away and breaks everyone’s heart. Well, Sabrina the witch took a very similar approach by drawing a smiley face on a rock and naming him “Mushroom Man”. As lovable as Wilson undoubtedly is, I would like to make some quick comparisons to demonstrate some key differences between Wilson and Mushroom Man. First of all, Tom Hanks is stuck on the island for 5 years (or something like that, I haven’t seen it in awhile) so befriending a volleyball is arguably reasonable behavior. Sabrina is about a week-and-a-half into her journey, is was only alone for like 20 minutes before she starts talking to Mushroom man. Secondly, Tom Hanks names Wilson after its brand of volleyball, a logical thought process even for someone who is friends with an inanimate object. Sabrina on the other hand, names her rock Mushroom Man even though the rock does not resemble a mushroom in any way.
3) Sabrina pulls of one of the boldest strategies I have ever seen in a survival situation. After being left alone to fend for herself while her partner selfishly dies in a Bolivian hospital, Sabrina begins to starve. She manages to hike about 30 feet from camp to a lovely little area at the base of a waterfall. The two survivors had been using this area to fish, cool off, and contract jungle diseases through their urethras (not sure if that’s the plural for urethra or not). However, famished from her lack of food, Sabrina is unable to catch any live prey. She has all but given up, when she finds, and I shit you not, a decaying bird head. Yes… a decaying bird head. She picks it up and as gross as it is, the audience takes a small amount of comfort in the fact that she is a survivalist, and no self-respecting survivalist would eat a decaying bird head. But then we remember, this is no ordinary survivor… this is a Rock-naming witch lady. Now, I know I am in no place to give wilderness survival advice. Realistically, I would have a P.S.R. of about 0.7 because I am Jewish and I can’t even tie a fishing knot, but even I know you shouldn’t eat decaying bird heads. However, Sabrina apparently skipped the “what to do when you come across a rancid old bird carcass” lesson at nut-job school, and she ate that bird head like her mamma made it. Soon after, she was rushed to a hospital and treated for Appendicitis, Hepatitises A-Z, and pretty much every other infection known to man kind. Luckily, she is expected to make a full recovery.
Although, like I said, this is one of the better episodes of Naked and Afraid, there are a few unresolved issues. Did the male survivor, Vincent, ever recover? Is there a massive law suit against Naked and Afraid (probably not because I’m sure they sign about ten waivers)? What house was Sabrina placed in at Hogwarts? Did she get to keep Mushroom Man? If she did, did she divorce her husband (yes she is married) to be with Mushroom Man instead? The world may never know. Anyways, I urge you to tune in Sunday nights at 9PM ET/PT to catch the next thrilling episode of Naked and Afraid…. Unless you have HBO then watch Game of Thrones instead.