The day after the season one finale of Naked and Afraid premiered on August 3rd, I went to brunch with my in-laws at a deli in Bethesda, the kind of place that serves toppling smoked meat sandwiches and omelets the size of handbags. When the subject of the Discovery Channel’s hit reality series came up, I felt a brief surge of excitement as I hovered over my sausage and eggs. Naked and Afraid — a show in which one man and one woman are stranded nude in hostile wilderness without food or water for 21 days — was my guilty pleasure of the summer, and I wanted desperately to talk with someone who understood how wonderful and ridiculous and shameful it was to be hooked on such over-the-top reality fare.

Essays and stories by Joan Marcus appear in The Sun, Fourth… More…