Dating reality shows come in various shapes & sizes. Lately, with the deluge of salacious shows in the genre being churned out by Netflix, newer formats are coming up. Last year, we saw people — especially in the UK — go crazy over Love Island. There were more: Love Is Blind, Love on the Spectrum, Terrace House, Say I Do, among others.
The premise of Too Hot to Handle is set very nicely: they’re bringing in contestants under the pretext of a regular dating show. The contestants are all being brought to an exotic location where it takes two seconds for the atmosphere to become sexually charged. The context-setting in the first episode also makes it clear that these contestants are sexual animals.
For them, living without sex would be like living without water or air. And yet, here they find themselves in the direst of situations: there’s a sex ban. Any kissing, heavy petting, or self-gratification will have consequences. So, how does abstinence look on a group of sexual & attractive people?
Fun or vapid?
In the introductory episode itself, it becomes clear that men & women were looking for compatible sexual partners. They walked in seductively, ranked everyone who walked in after them, and flirted endlessly. And then, bam, it was revealed that they’re going to be on Too Hot to Handle, where they cannot bring their sexual fantasies from the past few hours to life.
The contestants were loud & in wild abandon. They didn’t hold back on their comments, they didn’t filter their thoughts, they didn’t conceal their reactions. There’s something to be said about how they didn’t hesitate or flinch for even a second. Some moments we all noticed:
— WoOsaH (@pL4yb01_La1) July 11, 2021
Marvin & Melinda had a thing for each other. Or did they?
— Scholar (@Motoreoluwa) July 11, 2021
There were some sly ones too. Peter was acing this game, because, let’s not forget, it was a game.
Melinda from too hot to handle is so unbelievably gorgeous like how ppl like this exist is beyond me. She was slaying every single look on every single episode. #TooHotToHandle
— nikita👼🏼 (@nikitajasminee) July 10, 2021
The impeccable beauty of the contestants hasn’t escaped notice either.
— twitta fingazz (@mom_priest) July 7, 2021
And we have some hot takes.
— Trinity Robinson (@trinitaaaaaaaay) July 9, 2021
People have also been furious at Lana, the one in control of the entire show.
This Is No Love Island
Unlike other dating shows that are punctuated by at least some warm moments, Too Hot To Handle doesn’t do the viewers the courtesy of even pretending to not be scatological. The problem with the format is that it gets tiring after a point to hear the contestants talk about how a) they live for sex, and b) they want to breach rules & be fined because they cannot control their urges.
So, make no mistake, Too Hot To Handle is no Love Island or Love Is Blind. No one’s here to find eternal love. No one’s planning to find the one they’ll spend the rest of their lives with. They’re here for casual hookups & fun. It’s literally all a game for them. But at its core, it’s still trying to push the same beaten agenda: that when all is said & done, emotional connections are what matter.
Watch it or dump it?
It can get hard to watch the same sentiment being repeated time & again: hot, young people are fretting they cannot have sex. Abstinence isn’t a good look on them. But there’s still a magnetic element to the show that most Netflix reality shows do: you’d want to binge it, even if you hate-watch it.
Some of us are still processing the fact that there’s a show that’s fining people for trying to get freaky & that there are people for whom a 4-week dry spell is becoming so hard they’re ready to lose money over it.