The long-running reality show maroons an Idaho couple in the South American jungle

By Steve Helling
May 05, 2019 11:00 AM
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Credit: Discovery Channel

One of the most awkward parts of Naked and Afraid is the moment when the partners meet for the first time.

Both of them are buck naked, talking to a stranger. There are always lingering questions: should they shake hands? Hug? Where should they look first? Those questions can often mess with the participants’ minds before the challenge begins.

(Side note: PEOPLE has interviewed dozens of Naked and Afraid participants over the years, and they all give the same advice: just get it out of the way and look at your partner’s naked body. Then move on.)

On May 5th’s episode, those questions are not an issue: the show has cast Star Torres and Tony Wheeler, a couple from Pocatello, Idaho.

(The show has had one other couple participate — Matt Wright and Brooke Benham Wright — but their challenges have been separate. This is the first couple to participate in the same challenge.)

The idea of doing the challenge together was Wheeler’s idea. “It just looked so super hard,” he tells PEOPLE. “I wanted to show what a strong couple we really are.”

“Tony had to convince me,” adds Torres. “It took a while for me to agree to try out.”

But eventually, the couple, who have been together for four years, decided to audition — but Torres still didn’t think they’d ever be cast on the show. “I just went along with it,” she said.

Credit: Discovery Channel

Before they knew it, the couple was in a jungle in Guyana.

They had to rely on their skills to help them survive. “I grew up hunting, fishing and trapping,” says Wheeler. “I went into the military. I was special forces, Green Beret. So I had a lot of survival training.”

Torres says she relied on her adaptability. “I’ve lived in all sorts of environments,” she says. “I did cold weather survival in the Marine Corps. I brought a lot of those skills to the table.”

Credit: Discovery Channel

So what did Naked and Afraid do for their relationship?

For one thing, they didn’t argue like some couples. “We know each other,” says Torres. “And there were times where I was just so uncomfortable — there were bugs everywhere — and he could see that I wanted him to leave me alone. We didn’t get on each other’s nerves.”

“We had plenty of time to talk, especially at night,” says Wheeler. “But we mostly would talk about what we were going to do the next day. Either that, or our conversations were mostly about food.”

Obviously, Wheeler would take on the challenge again, but would Torres? “Absolutely,” she tells PEOPLE. “It was really hard, but I’m so glad I did it. And I’d definitely do it again.”

Torres and Wheeler’s episode will air Sunday, May 5 at 8 p.m. ET on Discovery Channel.