Summer television bores me. Nik Wallenda's walk above the Grand Canyon was cool, and "Sharknado" was fine for a few chain-sawing minutes. But, otherwise? Snoozefest.
Then I found "Naked & Afraid," Discovery Channel's "Everest of survival shows." Producers plant a man and a woman with survivalist training in a remote and harsh location, say, the Tanzanian jungle, for 21 days with no food, no water, and no shelter. Oh yeah, and no clothes. They must survive in the harshest conditions among venomous snakes and without so much as a loincloth for protection.
Needless to say, they get over the shy thing pretty quickly. I suppose it would be the least of my worries, too. Though I'm not sure I would last 21 hours in these dire conditions, let alone 21 days. I barely like camping. While I'm certainly no priss, I'm accustomed to my creature comforts. The closest disastrous situation I can contemplate is the Big One, the massive earthquake that my husband stocks us up for with every visit to Costco. It's rare that I go to the garage in the morning and start my car without glancing at the Tetra packs of milk and juice and the bags of beef jerky. Just to make sure they're still there.
If a massive earthquake hit, cutting off our electricity and access to running water and the Internet, I would have to find a way to keep my family fed. I figure the canned food and other reserves would last one month. In my free time, maybe I should be learning how to hunt instead of how to do Pilates? Those dainty deer prancing behind our condo could be lunch. Shudder. Just killing a spider gives me the willies.
After watching an episode of "Naked & Afraid," I'm always thankful to have my surplus of food and enough clothing to dress a small state. I don't have to eat turtle or dig below the water table for hydration. I may not be rich, but the show reminds me that I have flip-flops and bug spray. I also have a loving husband who makes me feel safe.
I'm also drawn to "Naked & Afraid" because of how well the female contestants cope. They're much braver than I would ever be. Sure, I lack their training and expertise. But I'm not interested in being that badass. While I'm an independent, career-minded woman in an equal marriage, I also appreciate and value our traditional roles. He kills the spiders; I say, "My hero."
Not the women on this show. There they are, squatting in the wilderness with matted, unkempt hair, baring their privates while building shelters and slaying eels. In four of the six episodes, it is often the woman who keeps the man fed and sane. Repeatedly, the women seem to handle crises better. They remain levelheaded and tend to make better choices.
In Episode 3, "Island from Hell," Jonathan, a former Marine, and Alison, a Hawaiian surfer, are marooned on a Maldivian island with sun so strong it cooks Jonathan's freckled skin to a fiery crisp. He's useless, so Alison builds the shelter, climbs for coconuts, weaves clothing and baskets out of plants, and identifies native berries from which to make a soothing salve for her partner's burn.
In another episode, Clint brags that 90 percent of his diet back in Indiana comes from his own hunting and plant gathering, but it is Laura who braves the sharks, diving for and catching a slimy form of sea life, their first source of protein.
Could I have done that? Hopefully, I'll never have to find out.
Reach Jessica Yadegaran at email@example.com.