Lets get this out of the way at the start. It’s odd looking at the Discovery Network programming guide to see Naked and Afraid and Dude You’re Screwed back to back with each other. Discovery, it seems, has discovered the utility of brazen and risque titles in attracting an audience. Fortunately, those who enjoy survival-genre programing will be well-rewarded for their time with Discovery’s Dude You’re Screwed, a reality series that pits several survival experts against each other in a game where none know when or where they will be dropped into a survival scenario.
As survival experts, they tend take extraordinary precautions to ensure they will be ready whenever they are dropped into danger. But before being dragged away to the challenge destination, the other survivalists search them to ensure that they don’t have any extra supplies. Although the search proves fruitless in the first episode, the special forces veteran managed to hide a fire-starting device inside his nose, and even more surprisingly, a multitool in a far less conspicuous location.
The show really shines by injecting a personal dynamic of camaraderie and humor among the contestants. Each knows he will eventually face a similar challenge.
In addition to some basic supplies, including a winter coat to supplement the windbreaker worn by the freezing survivalist, the team provided a Viking Shield, Pink Teddy Bear, and American Flag Speedo. The only food provided in the desolate landscape of Iceland was the nation’s most prized delicacy, fermented shark. This proved so repellant even the survivalist chose to throw it away — decision that later in the episode may have haunted him more than the undoubtedly pungent smell of Jaws-in-a-Can.
The survival contestant found use for all the other survival gear provided however, and each made a starring role in the premiere episode. The shield’s leather armbands quickly became snow goggles to prevent snow blindness; the bear was eventually “skinned” to help provide additional warmth and for the first few nights made sleeping in the rough more bearable by serving as a furry pillow. Most surprisingly, on a glacial mountainside, the unique landscape of Iceland provided a use for the Speedo. The glacier is perched atop an active volcanic mountain making the descent down the hill even more avalanche prone but also providing glacial meltwater to drink and to swim in. Bravely our first competitor dons the speedo and wades directly into the steamy water which is quite literally surrounded by ice cubes.
Unexpectedly, there is much over-the-top comedy, rare for a survival series. Many series in this vein struggle to maintain the drama of the challenges, and sometimes fall flat in the process. For the first time in any survival series I felt the sense of fun and adventure bursting through the screen. These are people choosing to attempt these challenges to feel more alive. If this sense of fun is preserved throughout the rest of the series audiences won’t need a survival kit to get through this season just a sense of humor and a cable subscription.