Someone Please Tell Us Who Gave the Greenlight to Man vs. Beast, And Why

A look at the most absurd, ridiculous, and wild competition television show that pitted men against animals


This is TV Time Capsule, our chance to revisit moments that defined a genre, era, or generation. In each episode, we’ll take a critical look at a show, theme, or entertainer to relive the absurdity of pre-streaming programming.

A sumo wrestler faces off against an orangutan in a tug-of-war battle.

A Navy SEAL challenges a chimpanzee to an obstacle course.

An Olympic sprinter speeds past a galloping giraffe but loses his next race against a zebra.

These are just a few of the visual marvels you would have witnessed had you tuned in to Fox’s wild two-time television special Man vs. Beast. A feat of early 2000s reality competition TV, the show featured men competing against wild animals in a series of bizarre challenges, including a gymnast outlasting an orangutan in a strength of endurance (the orangutan was disqualified on a technicality, which it was obviously fully aware of), a group of little people racing an elephant and also a camel (the little people lost), and even a hot dog eating contest (the Kodiak bear won that one). The show was complete with replays, slo-mo’s, stat breakdowns, and post-challenge commentaries – from the humans, of course.

In today’s TV Time Capsule episode, Panama Jackson, Senior Editor of The Root’s Very Smart Brothas, and Jessica Moulite, Video Producer for The Root, revisit the show that exuded peak himbo energy in the name of the human race.

Unfortunately—or luckily, depending on how you view it—the legacy of the show lives on in only two hour-long episodes. Facing criticism from viewers and animal rights organizations, an already-shot U.K. version was pulled before its release and, thus, the wild circus known as Man vs. Beast came to a close. But in an age of television necromancy where shows both loved and hated are revived for our streaming entertainment, we must ask ourselves: Is a Man vs. Beast reboot possible? Or, better yet: Should it be?

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