Discovery's latest dating show stands in a class all its own.
Discovery's latest dating show stands in a class all its own. ET's Rachel Smith spoke to two contestants from the network's latest series, Naked and Afraid of Love -- a spinoff of the popular Naked and Afraid -- in which singles try to find love while also testing their survival skills, stripping away the "comforts of modern dating."
Contestants Brittany Whitmire and Bennett Murphy admit that they had no idea what they were signing up for. Brittany says she got cast when a friend tagged her on Facebook about a casting group looking for people to join the show, and someone sent her a direct message.
"At the time, it was not communicated, the naked and afraid part," she says. "And I was like, yeah, I would be open to like seeing where this goes. ... Well, they did ask me, 'Are you comfortable being naked?' And I was like, 'Yeah, I think so.'"
Bennett says a casting group also found him through his social media.
"I think it was similar to kind of how Brit was, with kind of getting little bits and pieces of information," he recalls. "It is the first season of the show, so I had really no idea what we were stepping, or signing ourselves up for here. So, kind of like boiling the frog one degree at a time. So yeah, it's a survival show, there's a lot going on, it's dating. I'm like, 'Oh, well, I think I can survive this far, I'm single, you know, let's do this.' And then um, the nudity came in and it was never really something that ... I don't think I ever wrapped my mind around until I was actually, like, undoing my pants on the show."
The two describe what it was like being put in such extreme conditions.
"Like, think about it, you're never gonna fully be prepared until you get out there and the reality sets in of like, 'Oh, I have to lose my dress now,'" Brittany shares. "And you have this moment of like, 'Oh gosh, what did I sign up for?'"
Bennett adds, "And it's so different in contrast from your regular day-to-day life. Like, we're on opposite sides of the world, doing something that we've never done before, and we're naked and we're on camera, all these different things. It just doesn't feel like a real memory. It feels like a weird fever dream or just like a funky dream, like distorted reality."
"I went into it thinking, you know, it was going to be kind of maybe Bachelor in Paradise or maybe it was going to be kind of super intense, like a boot camp-type experience," Bennett shares. "But it was something entirely different. So, I don't know if it really can be compared to any of those. There is a group dynamic, there's a lot of social interactions that you wouldn't find in the real world that are just kind of flat out uncomfortable at times."
Brittany says the show is about stripping everything away and finding love.
"All of the other dating shows that are out, you know, when you talk about Bachelor in Paradise, they're constantly adding things, right? They're adding fun games, they're adding alcohol, they're adding and adding and adding," she notes. "With this show, we take everything away. So, we're stripped of everything, physically and metaphorically, right? I think that you really can't compare this to anything else that's out there right now."
"And I would say in terms of the survivalist part, yeah, there's definitely a big portion of that in this show," she continues. "But I would say the biggest kind of focus is going to be on the relationships. And there's a little bit of drama that unfolds, you know, like as relationships start to form and people start to have feelings, with that typically comes a little bit of drama. But I think overall it was a really solid dynamic and we had to work together and kind of figure out each other's strengths to not only get along and tolerate one another at times but to survive, right? When you're facing elements and you're in a place that's really out of your comfort zone, it can challenge you in new ways when it comes to dating."
Bennett and Brittany explain that the nature of the show does take away the more superficial aspects of dating.
"I have a tendency when I'm, you know, swiping through apps, it's really easy to become judgmental, a little superficial perhaps in terms of how are they dressing, and I'm very into fashion and styles," Bennett acknowledges. "It's so easy to judge and I just kind of wanted to test this out because it gave an opportunity. You're all starting at the same level, you're all coming in very exposed. I have no clue, you know, who this person is, you can't stalk beforehand, you know? And so it's like, perhaps it'll take away some of that judgment and really kind of force us to be in a position to get to know one another very, you know, meaningfully, and like at a deeper level and have that vulnerability kind of come to the forefront initially."
Brittany notes that while being naked made her apprehensive at first, the experience wasn't what she thought it was going to be.
"I was like, 'Will this be very sexual because that's not what I'm looking for either,' right? And so it's like, you know, a fine line there," she says. "But you get over it really quickly because you're out in the elements and you're also trying to survive in a place that's completely foreign to you in an uncomfortable situation. Like, I do not deem myself a survivalist, right? And so very quickly, the whole we're naked, checking-you-out thing, that goes away. And yeah, you're kind of forced to work together and to get to know one another on a deeper level."
"It's like dating backwards right, because, like, typically the endgame is to be naked together, you know, and then you go through these challenges and all that stuff," she also says. "But we're getting all of that up front so you can see very quickly if you're going to match with someone or you're not."
Brittany says she definitely learned a lot from being on the show.
"What I learned from it which is really important is that it's OK to be vulnerable, right?" she shares. "It's OK to show up as your most authentic self. And that's what you should be showing up as -- you don't want to put on this facade on your online dating profile that you're someone you're not because guess what, down the road, that's going to come out? ... Just show up and be who you are and own that and be proud of it. And, you know, one of the big things that I took away was trusting my instinct and really listening to my gut and following that."
Bennett says the cast grew close and are still currently in touch with one another.
"Any time you go through something that tough of an experience where you're that raw, that vulnerable, you have to bond, there's no way around it and I don't know, I hope to keep everyone as lifelong friends," he says.
Naked and Afraid of Love premieres Aug. 22 on Discovery.