Special Forces: World's Toughest Test is truly unlike any reality show you've ever seen. The FOX series brings together celebrities and puts them through intense military training, inspired by the real Special Forces selection process. The first season of the show, which premiered in early 2023, featured celebrities like Jamie Lynn Spears, Mel B, The Bachelorette's Hannah Brown, and Carli Lloyd. Season two has an equally star-studded cast, but more on that later.
Now, it's no surprise the contestants on Special Forces have to follow a strict set of rules—it's a show inspired by military training, after all. Though the challenges, like diving out of a helicopter into open water or literally being set on fire(!!!), are enough to break most people, several contestants have shared behind-the-scenes rules that made things even tougher. Think calorie limitations and rules about how they use the bathroom. (Yes, seriously.)
Season two, which premieres on September 25, 2023, brings together a whole new group of famous faces, including JoJo Siwa, Tom Sandoval, Brian Austin Green, Nick Viall, Tara Reid, and Jack Osbourne to push to their limits. Nick has already dropped a hint about one major rule Tom broke during filming, and it might shed some light on where things stand with him and his Vanderpump Rules co-star Raquel—or not, who knows!
Okay, here we go: Prepare yourselves for the very strict and intense rules Special Forces contestants have to follow during filming.
Contestants are not allowed to shave while filming.
Season one co-winner Hannah Brown told Parade that contestants can't bring much with them. "We couldn't bring anything to shave our legs," she said. "We had a bar of soap, a toothbrush, and some deodorant, and that was essentially it. That was really tough." That said, in another interview, she did confess to sneaking in a mirror.
And they only get a few pairs of underwear for the 10-day experience.
In addition to limited hygiene items, contestants don't get much in the way of clothing. "All we were given was a box that had three pairs of underwear, two bras. We had two sets of clothes for the entire time," Hannah told E! News.
Contestants can't compete against each other.
Though it presents plenty of physical challenges, it's not really a competition show in the traditional sense. "It wasn't a competition against other people," Hannah told E! News. "It's a competition within yourself. I've gone through such a crazy time in my life and was really trying to heal and grow, and I felt like this show would be a really good way to challenge myself in all the work that I had done."
They can't bring personal photos with them.
Season two contestant and Vanderpump Rules star Tom Sandoval got called out on castmate Nick Viall's podcast, The Viall Files. "He snuck in pictures of him and [Raquel] and he showed them to the cast, for what that's worth," Nick said. "You weren't allowed to sneak things in. I would have loved to sneak in a picture of [my fiancée] Natalie and I. I guess I could have tried, but I just didn't."
And they have to accept being filmed basically 24/7.
While some reality shows only film during certain hours or on select days, Special Forces contestants don't get a break. "We're constantly miked, there are cameras everywhere," Nick also shared on his podcast. "Everything we do is filmed, there are GoPros everywhere."
Contestants aren't allowed to decide how much food they consume.
"I felt my body being exhausted the whole time," Hannah told TV Insider. "They put you on a calorie deficit for a reason... I felt bad for the bigger guys. We were all getting the same [amount of food], so it was really tough."
And they have to be ready for mental challenges too.
While a show based on real-life military training is obviously going to be physically challenging, some season 1 contestants left due to mental challenges. As Hannah told TV Insider, it was her mental strength that helped her make it to the final rounds. "I was able to keep telling myself, 'You just have to keep going.' Even when there was a moment where that was really hard, I just had to tell myself, 'This too shall pass. We will make it through this hard moment, and it will get better at some point.'"
Cast members have to write a "death letter" to their loved ones.
Scarily enough, yes, this is in case they don't make it. "To write a death letter to your kids and to your family and friends, that takes a lot out of you. Moments like that really show you what type of person you are," season one contestant Dwight Howard told People. You can watch a few of the recruits, including Howard, read their letters here, but get the tissues ready.
And they have to run (not walk) everywhere.
"It almost made you regress to being a kid and accepting that the [Directing Staff] are your parents, and whatever they said, you just do," Mel B said at a show press conference.
There are no phones or electronics allowed.
This is a pretty standard rule for reality TV shows, including Special Forces. Season one contestant Gus Kenworthy admitted to Out: "Being off your phone for two weeks, not having your phone or any electronics with you is something that ultimately is probably beneficial, so I would probably do it again."
Contestants don't get a say in how they're portrayed.
This is also reality TV 101, but producers can edit or splice footage however they please. "At the end of the day, things are gonna get chopped up and come together in the way that's best for television," Gus told Out. "If I'm speaking completely candidly, I'm not thrilled with the way that I am portrayed."
Relaxation isn't really an option.
"This show was all of the physical stuff, and then never getting to relax and constantly being uncomfortable," Gus told Health Digest. "You would go to bed, and your clothes are so wet, and you don't want to take them off because you have no idea when you're going to have to go. It could be in 30 minutes, or it could be in six hours."
And neither is going to the bathroom alone.
Mel B also revealed this surprising detail at the show press conference, saying, "You have to go to the bathroom with a buddy because, in true combat style, if something happens and you're alone—that's not how you do it. You have to say to somebody in your barracks, 'Does anybody need the loo or the bucket or the hole in the floor?'"
Cast members shouldn't talk back to their leaders.
Part of the challenge for some contestants is keeping a cool head when they're being yelled at by former military personnel. According to a BuzzFeed News article, contestants are encouraged to reply with "Yes, staff" or "No, staff."
And they aren't allowed to know where the cameras are.
"All the cameras are hidden," Directing Staff member Rudy Reyes told Marine Corps Times. "And when you're putting these recruits in such pain, and the environment and the desert itself has degraded them, the last thing they're thinking about is who is watching."
They can't lean on producers in times of need.
Mel B said during a press conference that contestants don't have contact with producers the way they might on other reality shows. "And you don't see a producer. There's nobody that you can talk to and go, 'Oh, I think I've got a bit of a headache. Oh, I'm hungry. Is there any fruit?' There's none of that sh*t."
No one can leave before getting checked by a doctor.
Season one contestant Anthony Scaramucci—who exited the show after sustaining a concussion—shared in an interview: "They make you see a doctor as you're leaving. He says, 'How do you feel?' I thought, 'I feel really good.' He goes, 'Yeah, of course you do. You've got so much adrenaline pumping through you right now.'"
Contestants must be ready for anything.
Seriously, anything. In season one, contestants had to survive challenges like being set on fire, diving from a helicopter into open water, undergoing 12-hour interrogations, and more. It's no wonder that many of them dropped out due to injury.
And they don't win any prizes.
Whoever survives all 10 days gets bragging rights. That means contestants have to find other ways to motivate themselves—and many mention in their interviews that they ultimately wanted to prove something to themselves.
Contestants can't vote each other off.
Unlike many reality shows, there are no points, votes, or weekly eliminations. The only way contestants can leave is by choice, medical withdrawal, or by force from the agents. In season one, most contestants left either by choice or due to injury.
You Might Also Like