Summertime, and the livin' is easy – except, of course, if you are a contestant on a TV reality show that requires you to be naked.
The amazing thing about reality shows is that they bear little relation to reality. This is especially true in the shows that feature nude people, which – pun alert – bare no relation to reality.
Several of these shows have lately been conspiring to put costume designers out of work, including “Naked and Afraid,” “Dating Naked” and “Buying Naked.”
On “Naked and Afraid,” a man and a woman are dropped off in a wilderness full of dangerous critters and pricker bushes and must survive as best they can. The one thing they don’t have to be afraid of is something many of us fear – our pants suddenly falling off in a public setting. That has already been arranged for these contestants when they arrive at their destination.
On “Dating Naked,” couples meet to go on dates where they definitely do not have to dress up for the occasion. Some of us of a certain age remember that dating was the one social activity in which a person had a chance – slim in my case – of becoming naked before the end of the evening. But now they have gone and cut out the middle man.
On “Buying Naked,” nudists seek to buy houses, probably ones with little or no wardrobe space. I confess that this is the one show I have not seen, so perhaps I am missing something, but my sympathies are with the poor realtor. Open houses should not be so open. They are difficult enough without naked people traipsing through properties on a Sunday afternoon.
One of the startling aspects of the naked reality shows is the shocking absence of nudity. Oh, there’s a naked butt or two, but that sight just reminds the viewers at home of their congressmen.
Mostly, though, it is a coy sort of nudity – titillation lite and about as erotic as a church picnic.
On “Naked and Afraid,” the contestants – driven by hunger-induced desperation to forget the point of the show – often try to make some sort of body covering with a strategically placed palm frond here, a little burlap bag there.
Maybe they think that if they make primitive clothes, they can also make rudimentary credit cards and walk out of the jungle when the TV producers are not looking and buy a sandwich.
Those couples not so creative soon succumb to a strange malady of blurred body parts. Women suffer worse, because they are covered top and bottom. Men are blurred in the lower altitudes only.
My best guess is that this condition is caused by heat and humidity. Many of the scenes occur in jungle settings, where the rain beats down and mists naturally develop on the human body, apparently causing a ripple effect on the skin.
As it is hardly a good advertisement for being naked, you would think the producers would throw the couples a tube of dermatological cream once in a while.
My worry is that blurred-body part syndrome is contagious. It seems to have leapt from survivors scouring the jungle to find a little crustacean or chance banana to the dating scene and the hunt for romance, with the common factor being nudity in a hot environment.
Many Americans are worried about Ebola, but fortunately, most will never contract that. But many do have hot showers. Just wait until the first blurred body part reveals itself in a full-length mirror – it will be a nationwide panic. Actually, an outbreak might be a blessing to some people, but enough about me.
Maybe this is what it will take for the nation to regain its senses and insist on shows where people keep their clothes on. Maybe this will forestall other naked reality shows that we all fear are in the works.
In no way should a show titled “Naked Accountants – Getting to the Bottom Line” ever be produced. Such a show will only serve to depreciate national good taste.
Likewise, “Naked Newspaper Journalism – Stop the Presses, I’ve Got My Palm Frond Caught in Them,” has to be spiked. And “Naked Attorneys Separated From Their Briefs” must be stopped before the first gavel comes down on a blurred body part.
The naked truth? These shows are a diversion from the bad news of our time. The more grim things become, the more reality is blurred. Summertime, and the livin' is complicated.
Reg Henry is deputy editorial-page editor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.