On “Naked and Afraid of Love,” a spinoff of Discovery’s long-running “Naked and Afraid,” Seattle’s Britt Whitmire is definitely naked but not necessarily afraid.
“I wouldn’t say I’m afraid of love but I do think my previous experience of love has caused me to be somewhat hesitant,” says the 32-year-old Whitmire, who lives in the Eastlake neighborhood.
Unlike the original “Naked and Afraid” series, which features one man and one woman in each episode trying to survive 21 days naked in the wilderness, “Naked and Afraid of Love” follows 16 naked strangers over a 10-episode season as they look for love. Consider it a sexier “Survivor,” where coupling up is the primary strategic goal. Whitmire describes the experience as “dating backwards.”
“When you think about dating, you think the end game is being naked together, right? With this experience, you’re getting that up front,” says Whitmire of “Naked and Afraid of Love,” which debuts Sunday, Aug. 22, on streaming service discovery+. (After the two-hour premiere, a new episode drops weekly on Sundays through Oct. 31).
“It forces you to very early on open up and be vulnerable. You’re stripped physically, but also metaphorically.”
Even though the show airs on discovery+, which doesn’t have to adhere to the standards of a broadcast or cable channel, participants are not shown fully nude; their private parts are pixelated.
“We don’t want it to have any sexual connotation,” Whitmire says. “We want this to show how you can form deeper connections when you are stripped away from everything physically. That that’s the focus for the show, not the naked aspect.”
But surely there were some contestants who had trouble consistently looking their fellow naked contestants in the eye, right?
“I didn’t do a body scan when I was meeting everyone,” Whitmire says, though she does make a “wood” double entendre in a camera confessional in the first episode after meeting Bennett, a guy with model good looks. (Maintaining eye-level contact was more of a challenge for a few of the male contestants.) “When you’re on an island, and you’re all naked, that becomes the norm. So you don’t think anything of it after a very quick amount of time.”
Whitmire moved to Seattle seven years ago from her native North Carolina after studying communications and psychology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She was hired by Amazon to be a recruiter, ultimately recruiting senior-level employees for Amazon fulfillment centers. She left the company in late 2020, needing a break after feeling swamped meeting public demand for Amazon deliveries during the pandemic.
“Naked and Afraid of Love” filmed for almost a month earlier this year on a deserted Philippine island.
The first episode shows contestants carrying burlap sacks — often strategically placed over their groins — used to carry microphone packs and seashells Whitmire used as utensils to scoop out coconuts.
In one scene, Whitmire shares a kiss with a male contestant, saying, “I know it’s only been 48 hours, but it’s about time!”
In a phone interview last week, Whitmire says she hopes viewers can tell she was joking but also that time and relationships move at a different pace on a deserted island.
“There’s no distraction, there’s literally nowhere to go. There is nothing to do,” she says, “so it just really sped up the process of dating and I don’t think that I thought about it from that perspective going into it.”
After filming “Naked,” Whitmire returned to Seattle, and began working remotely for a Los Angeles startup with plans to move to Southern California. She got laid off from that job in the last month but still plans to relocate there. As she searches for a new job she’s not concerned that prospective employers will look askance at her “Naked” experience.
“If a company doesn’t hire me because I’ve done something like this — where I’ve gone out and I had the courage and the bravery to do this, and again, not in a sexual way, to be open and vulnerable and authentic, and try to form a connection — then perhaps it’s not a good fit for me either,” she says. “I want someone to hire me because of what I bring to the table and that is authenticity, leadership and awesome work.”