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How Naked And Afraid’s New Dating Show Tried To Make Everybody Comfortable During Production

Two people high-five on Naked and Afraid

Dating reality shows are a dime a dozen these days. The trick is finding a unique angle to attract the seemingly insatiable audience. Have Michael Bolton sing about famous people on The Celebrity Dating Game? Sure. Trick cast members into a sexless retreat on Too Hot to Handle? No problem. So bring on Naked and Afraid of Love, Discovery+'s new dating series that asks its singles contestants to strip down and test their ultimate survival skills in the wild, while also searching for “the one." Nothing un-unique about this one.

The spinoff of Discovery’s survival show Naked and Afraid will feature eight males and eight females who have been stripped of the comforts of modern dating (you know, like shelter, clothing, food) to find relationships in the wilderness. But with Naked and Afraid of Love’s addition of intimacy and romance also comes increased vulnerability for the contestants, and executive producer Jay Bienstock spoke as part of a Television Critics Association Panel (via The Wrap) about the safeguards that had to be put in place to ensure the cast’s comfort.

Because of the sensitive nature of a show like this, because not only is everybody naked and vulnerable, it’s a dating show. So a couple of things. One is, with the cast, the cast was told that as a production, we will not tolerate any sort of unwanted advances, touching something without consent. Like, this was very, very important to us and to the cast and the crew as well.

It’s good to hear that the participants’ safety and comfort were taken so seriously by the production team. I imagine it was already challenging for the survivalists — who have to navigate some pretty extreme environmental situations — to focus on finding romance in those conditions. Now if only the bugs had to get consent before biting the contestants!

Jay Bienstock went on to say that the crew was told to look out for anyone who appeared uncomfortable, even if they didn’t speak up to production.

And by the way, on the crew, to make it more comfortable for everybody out there, we had a lot more women on the show, as part of the production, in terms of camera teams and producers, just to make it feel more balanced for everybody. And the crews were told as well, in terms of, everybody, take a step back, make sure nobody’s feeling uncomfortable. Our cast was told if they were feeling uncomfortable about something, to come to us. And even then, if they didn’t come to us… we told the crew, if someone’s even sensing anything, to go discuss it with the cast. So everybody felt protected and safe out there so they can focus on the goal, which was to find love.

Incorporating more women into the production crew is an interesting move on Discovery’s part, and hopefully helped the contestants feel more comfortable to voice any concerns they had. It doesn't appear so far as if any issues were had during the initial season's production, so that's as good a sign as any that the extra steps were worth the effort.

Will stripping down for harrowing survival tasks lead these contestants to long-term love? You don’t have to wait long to find out! Naked and Afraid of Love will premiere on Discovery and Discovery+ on August 22. Be sure to check out our 2021 Fall TV schedule so you don’t miss the upcoming premieres of any of your favorite shows.

Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.