If you’ve been spending the last few quarantine days mourning the end of Tiger King, and the failure that was the new bonus episode, I have good news! Netflix has stepped up to the plate with yet another meme-worthy and binge-able reality series, and this time, the participants are hotties, not hillbillies.
If you’ve read my previous reviews you’ll know that I consider most reality TV to be complete garbage, but I’ll watch it anyway, using these reviews as my excuse. The recently released, Too Hot To Handle, is no exception.
The series falls into that wonderfully addicting “so bad it’s good category” and will have you cringing, gasping and rolling your eyes so hard they hurt. The premise of this phenomenal disaster is that a group of scantily-clad attractive young people from all over the world are gathered together on an exotic tropical retreat where, presumably, passions will run high. And, as expected when you force a group of serial hedonists to sleep in the same bedroom: they do.
In the first episode we’re introduced to a clique of Lotharios, possibly chiselled by Michelangelo himself, and watch as they put the moves on a group of girls who could have stepped out of the pages of a fashion magazine (or more realistically, your instagram feed). All the participants admit to avoiding monogamy and commitment, and eagerly anticipate the retreat turning into a very sexy vacation. That is, until an all-seeing, all-knowing cross between a humidifier and Google’s Alexa (this one’s called Lana) interrupts their antics to inform them of the house rules.
In order to win $100 000, the handsy housemates have to abstain from kissing, and all sexual practices in order to develop deeper romantic bonds. At this announcement the participants, who have already been massaging sunscreen into each other and exchanging saliva after knowing one another for less than 12 hours appear gutted, and this is where the real thrill for the viewer begins. Naturally, the weak-willed and semi-naked young people have trouble following the rules, and with every breach, Robo Big Brother subtracts money from their prize (a kiss sets them back $3000).
There’s something profoundly satisfying in watching the participants struggle to reign in their urges under Lana’s bang ban. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that many singles are stuck in quarantine and sympathise with their involuntary abstinence. On the other hand, it might just be that watching people who look like they do sulk about not being able to use their superpower awakens a special kind of schadenfreude for those of us who are…well, more normal.
Too Hot to Handle is definitely not great television. It follows many of the patterns that emerge in other shows of its kind (the hotties, the fights, the confessions, the abs) and yet it still lacks something. Despite the fact that the goal is for them to connect more deeply, their interactions rarely reach a place of emotional vulnerability that brings them down to our level. As viewers, we certainly can’t imagine any of the relationships they form on the retreat to have a very long shelf life. It also lacks in drama that goes beyond petty arguments and finger pointing.
That being said, it is a great distraction from the fact that we can no longer follow the ridiculous antics of Joe Exotic and “That Bitch Down In Florida”. It’s also great to discuss with friends, and therefore highly satisfying as a Netflix Party selection. And if, like me you haven’t left the house in weeks and just wanna look at some attractive (albeit extremely annoying) people, it’s great for that too.
Sit back, relax, and get ready to cringe and cast judgement. Then give it a few days, the Too Hot to Handle memes are sure start flooding all our socials soon.
Essential Millennial Rating: 3.5 out of 5 avocados