How ‘Naked and Afraid of Love’ Managed Personal Hygiene and Consent Protocols

TCA 2021: “Everybody felt protected and safe out there so they can focus on the goal, which was to find love,” executive producer Jay Bienstock says

Naked and Afraid of Love

Discovery+’s upcoming reality dating series “Naked and Afraid of Love” strips away some of the “comforts of modern dating” — mainly clothes — in order to give eight single men and eight single women a chance to find romance in the nude with just the bare necessities in their island paradise setup. And, no, that did not include soap, toothpaste, deodorant or any other personal-hygiene products.

“In terms of dating, if somebody is undesirable to somebody else, it doesn’t really lend itself to love, right?” “Naked and Afraid of Love” executive producer Jay Bienstock told reporters during a virtual panel for the show at the Television Critics Association’s press tour Monday. “So we did a very, very fast sort of like– they got to clean off in the water because the water was there and they would actually be able to just sort of rinse their mouths out real fast. So bad breath and whatnot. But other than that, there wasn’t much more than that in terms of the show. They didn’t get to cut their hair or anything like that. It was sort of real basic stuff in terms of, like I said, their breath and they can wash up in the water.”

“Naked and Afraid” cast member Bennett Murphy added: “I went into this really nervous about that. I was like, man, not only am I going to be making out with someone maybe who hasn’t brushed their teeth in a while or hasn’t been able to keep their self clean like they’re used to, I’m not going to be going into it confident as well. And that was really cool for me to be able to kind of shake away from that a little bit. Just kind of lose that standard that might be just unnatural and unrealistic. And I feel like it just helps you to prevent relationships.”

As a dating-centric spinoff of Discovery’s survival series “Naked and Afraid,” “Naked and Afraid of Love” had the added component of romance and intimacy for production to consider beyond the basic hazards of being unclothed in the wilderness that the parent show deals with. Bienstock says this meant adding additional protocols to make sure everyone on set — from the cast to the crew — never felt uncomfortable or experienced anything they did not consent to and, if they did, that they knew exactly how to report it.

“Because of the sensitive nature of a show like this, because not only is everybody naked and vulnerable, it’s a dating show,” Bienstock said. “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.

“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.”

Murphy was cast as a contestant on Clare Crawley’s season of “The Bachelorette” but cut ahead of filming due to multiple pandemic-related production delays that shuffled up the men who could participate.

When asked by a journalist if he could compare the safety protocols on the set of “Naked and Afraid of Love” for “The Bachelorette,” he said without having been part of filming on the ABC reality dating series, he didn’t have enough information to weigh in.

“Unfortunately, I really can’t give an answer. I never participated in any filming up ‘The Bachelorette.’ I was cast for it and then sent home before filming,” Murphy said. “So I don’t really have any insight on what they do. I just know we were pretty thorough over here. And I always felt like if something was, you know, suspicious or something, I knew that we had people we trust who we could go to.”

He added, “I don’t believe so. I don’t really remember, it was a while ago.”

“Naked and Afraid of Love” launches Aug. 22 on Discovery+.


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