Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Naked And Afraid: Why Sarah Bartell Left Last One Standing With Total Contempt

"Naked and Afraid" is one of the most challenging reality shows out there, with contestants willingly putting themselves in the path of fearsome predators, unrelenting environments, and serious injury in the hopes of surviving for 21 days in the wilderness.

For some survivalists, the real-life challenges of "Naked and Afraid" aren't quite tough enough. The spinoff "Naked and Afraid: Last One Standing" brings together 12 former "Naked and Afraid" contestants to survive for 45 days in South Africa's Oribi Gorge. In addition to battling the elements, contestants must also best each other to avoid elimination across three separate phases. If someone decides to tap out, their partner must leave as well. Unlike the original series, the winner of "Last One Standing" goes home $100,000 richer.

The highly competitive nature of "Last One Standing" made for fun television, but it wasn't always a positive experience for the contestants. One participant, taxidermist and leatherworker Sarah Bartell, took to Instagram to criticize the show's format. "Just in case it wasn't already apparent: I actually have nothing but contempt for the format of 'Last One Standing,'" Bartell wrote. "It struck me from the start as contrived, overly-dramatic, and frankly, an extension of my running theory that American television is intentionally dumbing itself down in an attempt to reach a wider audience."

Bartell said the show wasn't indicative of the survivalist mentality

The inaugural season of "Naked and Afraid: Last One Standing" premiered on May 7 and came to an end on July 16. Following the 21-day-long first phase, the series transitioned to the elimination phase, during which time Sarah Bartell went home.

That format, she said, was antithetical to the communal survivalist experience, in which many hands make light work. "I watched strong people fall, and stronger ones still become jaded by the format," she wrote in the same Instagram post. "It goes against the usual nature of our instincts as survivalists, and asks us to become something we're not."

The series depicts the contestants helping one another and sharing impala meat, among other acts of kindness, but Bartell insists that many more failed to make the cut. "The edit has left out so much kindness and sharing, in favor of pushing the narrative of greed and deception."

Although Bartell was initially skeptical about joining the spinoff, she ultimately jumped at the opportunity to adventure in Africa. The result was a mixed bag for Bartell. "I...experienced some of the darkest moments I've ever had on a NAA challenge, often adjacent to some of the happiest moments I've had on a NAA challenge," she wrote, "and it's something that I'm still processing, even now."