Reality TV gets “Too Hot to Handle”

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Reality TV gets a little hotter with the new Netflix reality drama “Too Hot to Handle,” now streaming.

by Ryan Hardison, Staff Writer

What happens when a group of gorgeous and irresponsible adults ends up on a luxurious island resort with a chance to win $100,000? A month full of drama, jealousy and growth. 

Inspired by the iconic “Seinfeld” episode “The Contest” where the show’s main characters bet on who can go the longest without sex or masturbation, “Too Hot to Handle” attempts this experiment on a larger and more lucrative scale.

However, unlike the “Seinfeld” episode, this social experiment is meant to aid people’s spiritual growth and encourage them to seek a more fulfilling love life. Through this process, the show attempts to answer the question: in a world without sex, will people form deeper, more meaningful connections with their love interests? 

“Too Hot to Handle” begins with ten singles on a month-long resort vacation on the coast of Punta Mita, Mexico. The contestants were selected for being attractive singles known for meaningless flings. Narrator Desiree Burch said producers chose the “hottest, horniest commitment-phobic swipesters.”

The cast is full of interesting bachelors and bachelorettes, all beautiful and clueless about the impending challenges they’re about to face. This includes former linebacker and British accountant Kelechi “Kelz” Dyke; ditzy Florida sorority girl Haley Cureton; and Australian heartthrob Harry Jowsey.

The contestants knew they were going to be on a reality show, but according to contestant Francesca Farago in an interview with Esquire, only a few details were shared. Apparently the contestants only knew they would be on an island with a group of singles. When the group first entered the resort, they believed they were going to have a summer full of hookups with the beautiful people around them and come away with $100,000. 

Not so much, the joke was on them.

After their arrival on the island, the contestants get informed by the show’s virtual assistant Lana that to win the prize, the contests must follow a simple set of rules. Over the month-long competition, the islanders can’t kiss, have sex or masturbate, putting an instant dent in their romantic summer plans. Each time a contestant breaks a rule, an unspecified amount of money gets deducted from the prize fund, encouraging the guests to keep it in their pants. 

With this twist, the group is responsible for each other’s actions, and while some contestants are determined to follow the rules, others privately reveal that the rules won’t stop them from having fun. These rules cause unlikely friendships and cliques to form, while rivalries and pettiness threaten to tear the group apart while costing them lots of money. 

To help the contestants grow and keep them entertained, various workshops are held throughout their time on the island including practicing the ancient Japanese bonding art of shibari and self-empowering Yoni Puja. Plus, the singles have all day to flirt, connect with each other and move closer to the prize. Even if the singles are unable to form a relationship, the goal is for each contestant to head back to the real world with a better perspective about love. 

Over time, more challenges are added and the singles who’ve experienced significant growth get rewarded with dates and a night in the private suite. This suite further tests the sanctity of their relationships. To make things interesting, four more contestants are brought to the island halfway through the series, increasing the sexual tension and raising the stakes. 

One faulty and recurring theme of the show is none of the contestants know what level of growth you need to reach to win the grand prize, how many people can win it, or if it will only be awarded to successful couples. The format needs a bit of retooling since the show’s penchant for surprises and constant additions to the rules sometimes makes things confusing. That being said, the show has been high up on Netflix’s top 10 list since its April 17 premiere.  

“Too Hot to Handle” continues the recent run of popular dating shows including “Love is Blind” and “Married at First Sight,” but with an original and creative premise. At times, the show is similar to “Love Island” but the no-sex twist makes it unique, and with only eight episodes, it’s easy to breeze through. Though it may not be as groundbreaking as “Love is Blind” or as entertaining as “The Bachelor,” it’s definitely worth watching.