The world of reality competition shows expanded with the series premiere of Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test on January 4 at 8/7c. The FOX series puts celebrities through grueling challenges from the playbook of the special forces selection process. Over on CBS, Phil Keoghan’s Tough as Nails Season 4 premiered just after Special Forces at 9/8c. In it, working-class Americans are tested for their strength, endurance, agility, and mental toughness. We want to know your preference between the formats.
Reality stars often become celebrities in their own right — some of them are in the Special Forces cast. Former Bachelorette Hannah Brown is one of the freshman season’s 16 recruits, as are Kate Gosselin and Kenya Moore. The remaining contestants are former NFL player Danny Amendola, Melanie Brown MBE (a.k.a. Mel B) of the Spice Girls, chef Tyler Florence, NBA player Dwight Howard, singer Montell Jordan, freeskier Gus Kenworthy, Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin, Olympic gold medalist Carli Lloyd, actress Beverley Mitchell, former MLB player Mike Piazza, Dr. Drew Pinsky, former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, and actress Jamie Lynn Spears.
The celebs are led through a demanding sequence of training exercises by a foursome of former special forces operatives. The Directing Staff (DS) agents include Rudy Reyes, Mark “Billy” Billingham, Jason “Foxy” Fox, and Remi Adeleke. Like Tough as Nails, there are no eliminations in Special Forces. Each participant will either leave by their own accord, through failure or potential injury, or be ordered to leave by the DS. The competition is meant to be “the ultimate test of their physical, mental, and emotional resilience — revealing the celebrities’ deepest and truest character,” according to FOX.
“In many ways, it is more about mental strength than physical strength,” Rob Wade, President, Alternative Entertainment & Specials, previously said in a statement of the format. “It’s an eye-opening glimpse into the most intense training in the world and gives a taste of the grit and bravery our armed forces show on a daily basis, which was a life-changing experience for these celebrities.”
In Tough as Nails, the only familiar face is Keoghan’s — that is, unless you’re one of the people who’s been helped by services provided by Season 4 cast members. Those participants are the everyday heroes of American life. They fix our roads, plumbing, and lighting, they put out fires, and some are former military as well.
No one is eliminated in Tough as Nails, but the teams have to work together well in order to succeed in each challenge. The format demands each player to dig into their deep well of special skills and think on their toes to apply them in situations that don’t necessarily gel with their resumes.
After having seen the premieres for both of the series, we’re interested in hearing your take on their differences.
There’s room on TV for both series to exist, of course, but in our world full of famous people, did you enjoy seeing them be put to such a grueling physical test outside of, say, a movie role? It’s surely a unique sight. Even sports stars and Olympic champions could be inexperienced when it comes to Special Forces‘s brand of physical challenges. Or do you prefer seeing working-class Americans test their skills and be celebrated for their work as a result?
What Special Forces and Tough as Nails have in common is they both celebrate people whose work makes a huge impact on all of our lives (that, and the toughness required to compete in each, as the titles imply). The question is, do you like seeing celebrities take on the challenges military heroes face, or seeing everyday heroes step into the spotlight, more? Is it apples and oranges? Let us know in the poll, below.
Special Forces: Word’s Toughest Test, Wednesdays, 8/7c, FOX
Tough as Nails, Wednesdays, 9/8c, FOX