Tailor-made for quarantine times, Too Hot To Handle sees a group of 20-something “commitment-phobic swipers” embark on a “sexual adventure”. You’ve seen it all before: the attention-starved contestants are taken to an island villa for four weeks to model some skimpy swimwear and to find love. Oh, and to win $100,000. But it’s mostly for the love and personal growth, honest.
There are conditions to their stay in millennial Eden. Sadly, this plot twist doesn’t involve a remake of The Most Dangerous Game, where the participants are hunted by a Russian aristocrat called Count Zaroff. Instead, LANA, a virtual assistant that looks like an electronic buttplug, announces the guidelines: no kissing, no sex of any kind, and no self-abuse whatsoever. If the horndogs break these rules and engage in any sexual contact on the island, they’re reprimanded by the AI and the collective prize money they’re all playing for decreases. There’s even a price tag for certain acts. Oral sex, for instance, sets you back $6,000.
If you already feel like carpet-bombing the island retreat, yelling at the usually brilliant Desiree Burch (who serves as the show’s narrator and who really should have known better), and finding out who’s responsible for this keep-your-pants-on-Love Island pitch so you can choke them with the aforementioned luminous sextoy, you’re only human.
Even if your brain is screaming out for some contrived train-wreck TV after binging Love Is Blind, please try to abstain.
Loosely based on an episode of Seinfeld (‘The Bet’), where each character competes to see if they can give up masturbation, Too Hot To Handle is just the worst. The contestants are told that this retreat is “to help you gain deeper emotional connections”; so, the sentient cone puts them through various dates and self-improvement challenges, including a Shibari workshop. We’re told that this ancient Japanese art of bondage shouldn’t be seen as exclusively sexual and that it teaches people how trust is a vital component for any relationship.
In theory, why not, as the show aims to preach to young singletons that there’s more to dating than superficial one-night stands. In practice, however, fuck off. Either commit to the contrived “concept” or don’t, but hypocritically trying to pass off any of this insufferable leering-while-simultaneously-judging crap as a psycho-social experiment is insulting.
To Too Hot To Handle’s (only) credit, it’s borderline impressive how the showrunners have managed to round up such a despicable bunch of numbnuts. The bronzed and identically shaped players trying to keep chlamydia at bay in this icky theatre of hell are oily ego-goblins that rate themselves 10/10 and who only strive for contrived selfie perfection. Usually in a reality show, there’s at least one redeemable soul you’re secretly rooting for. Here, everyone has the IQ of a steak and ale pie, and each of them barely registers as cardboard cut-outs masquerading as eye-candy.
Even if your brain is screaming out for some contrived train-wreck TV after binging Love Is Blind, please try to abstain. However, if you’re aching for proof why intelligent alien lifeforms haven’t made contact with Earth-dwellers is because they’re currently studying our cultural output and your Instagram feed, and concluded that we were always destined to self-destruct and that this new Netflix show is a further artefact in a Raiders Of The Lost Arc-sized hangar of evidence that confirms we don’t deserve a morsel of their empathy because we’re essentially sociopaths defined by shallow needs for approval, beset by vapid demands for “likes” and followers, and easily described as a bunch of lobotomised drones binging whatever shit pellet we’re fed through our screens, then Too Hot To Handle is definitely the show for you.