One of the most notorious reality television competitions, Fear Factor, first aired on NBC and then on MTV, garnering infamy for its cringe-worthy content that grossed out viewers.
The show featured contestants struggling to win $50,000 while facing their fears and disgusting challenges. The challenges ranged from drinking cow urine to eating pig livers, silkworms, and sheep’s eyes.
The magnitude of the disgust prevailing in all episodes made many viewers question if the show was real.
‘Fear Factor’ Got Canceled Thrice
Based on a Dutch program called Now or Neverland, NBC first aired the series in 2001, hoping it would overshadow CBS’s then-hit show Survivor.
UFC commentator Joe Rogan hosted the game and bombarded participants with challenges that needed physical strength, mental toughness, and a ton of willpower.
For the first few seasons, the game captivated viewers. But sadly, the viewership faded down as it couldn’t compete with the hype of Fox’s American Idol. As a result, the show got canceled in 2006.
After a five-year gap, NBC revamped the show and brought it to life in 2011 with its original host, Rogan. The show, however, couldn’t run for long due to low ratings and infamy.
The network even had to pull one of its episodes, ‘Hee Haw! Hee Haw!’ in 2012. The episode featured contestants drinking donkey semen and urine, and it brought massive backlashes, resulting in the show’s cancelation.
Then in 2017, MTV rebooted the competition with rapper and actor Ludacris as its host.
Eliminating the gross part, the show introduced challenges related to animals, common fears among the competitors, and extreme physical stunts.
The reboot didn’t impress many, and the show slacked off, promoting its cancelation after just two seasons in 2018.
Is ‘Fear Factor’ Real?
Fear Factor is as real as it could be, or at least it seems to be.
Though the show made its participants eat or drink questionable raw contents, the disgusting things were tested and proven consumable by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA.)
Another point that proved the show’s authenticity was the screening that contestants went through.
To take part in the game, all applicants had to pass physical and mental tests. After all, the challenges that awaited them were nowhere near easy.
The accounts of the show’s participants helped make things transparent as well.
Twin Brynne and Claire Odioso dished on the experience of filming an episode ‘Hee Haw! Hee Haw!’ during a Tampa radio show in February 2012.
They first expressed their disappointment as their episode, which was supposed to air on January 31, 2012, never made it to the screen.
Then they shared that drinking donkey’s urine and semen was the most harrowing 15 minutes of their life. One of them even recalled that she vomited in the glass. But because she needed to win the challenge, she gulped everything.
Even the show’s host, Rogan, admits things were stretched too far, not just on the gross level but also regarding safety.
In his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, in November 2018, he pointed out that it was mere luck that nobody died while filming the stunts.