Opinion » Pique'n Yer Interest

Taking if off on TV


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I totally had Jon Montgomery right in front of me two weeks ago and forgot to ask the most important of questions.

"When can we expect the first season of The Amazing Naked Race Canada to air?"

OK, that's probably not going to happen.

But it's not like it would be completely out of left field. After all, that's the latest trend in reality TV — take an existing concept, then make the subjects or contestants strip.

Let's look at a few examples: There's Buying Naked, the TLC show in which realtor Jackie Youngblood shows properties located in Florida nudist communities to potential homebuyers.

"Jackie and her team must also bear in mind the hazards that are lurking for their clothing-optional clientele — everything from countertop height to sharp corners and flooring (rug burn hurts!)," reads the show's description on the TLC website, as if it's Youngblood's savvy knowledge of her local listings that we're supposed to be interested in.

VH1's Dating Naked, which airs on M3 in Canada, is a slightly more intriguing concept. Strangers are sent on a series of blind dates in the buff before deciding if they'd like to pursue a romance with one of the suitors. Producers of the show claim it has led to six long-term relationships, including one engagement, according to reports.

But the show found itself in legal trouble last week when one of the female daters sued for being shown... naked. True, she knew what she was signing up for, but there was one scene in which she was wrestling on the beach with a date, and the show failed to blur out her crotch.

So with a large settlement likely to be the outcome of that case, and ratings mediocre thus far, who knows if that one's going to last.

Syfy had a short run of a series dedicated to a Nevada body-painting business called Naked Vegas, and I don't think it's the artwork that most were tuning in for. GSN, formerly the Game Show Network, has taken it a step further with the body-painting competition Skin Wars, presumably because focus-group testing for The Weakest Dink was not as successful.

There is one birthday-suit-themed program that I really think does work, and that's Discovery Channel's Naked and Afraid. The premise: Two strangers, one man and one woman, are dropped off in the remote wilderness of a foreign country with no clothes (obviously), a single item of their choosing (fire starters and machetes being quite popular) and tasked with surviving 21 days. At the end of the three weeks, when the contestants are usually emaciated and delirious, they must make an arduous journey to an extraction point where a rescue vehicle awaits them. There is no prize for the survivors beyond a sense of achievement.

On this program, ditching the clothes adds an extra layer of challenge, rather than the participants being naked for the sake of being naked. Trying to keep warm on cold nights with rain coming down in buckets is no picnic. And mosquito/snake/puma bites to the private parts are actually legitimate concerns.

The nakedness has become an issue of morality vs. survival for some on the show, too. In one episode, the two participants were shivering their way towards hypothermia when the woman suggested they huddle together to conserve body heat. The man refused, saying it would be inappropriate, and the result was more than just another chilly night, as their relationship and willingness to rely on each other deteriorated more and more from there. (Dude, just suck it up and take the inside spoon.)

If there was one naked show we should have seen coming, it's probably Naked and Afraid. It was almost 15 years ago that Richard Hatch became the first-ever Survivor winner after spending most of his time on the island nude, so maybe he was on to something.

It was around that same time that Naked News launched online, and that program still exists, with paying subscribers tuning in to hear the day's headlines delivered by topless female anchors. Because, really, it's a lot easier to understand ISIS's growing influence in Iraq and Syria when there's areola involved, right?

For the most part, the explosion of naked TV capitalizes on the human condition to peek underneath the robes, but also shows a real lack of creativity. All of these shows have been done for years in one way or another, only with clothes.

I don't know if it will last forever, because Naked Top Chef would be a frying accident waiting to happen and Hoarders: Exposed just sounds awful. Let's just agree that if Say No to the Dress becomes a thing, it's gone too far.