The new season of Netflix’s Too Hot To Handle has been released and it’s a huge hit. For those who haven't watched, the series follows a group of hotties at a luxurious villa vying for each other’s attention. The catch is that they aren’t allowed to have any sexual interactions whatsoever (and that includes self service). If anyone breaks the rules, the prize fund is deducted from, and the price gets higher depending on the severity of the rule break. In order to make the show more interesting, they don’t tell the cast the celibacy rules until after they’re already on the show. That way, the cast is full of clueless people who think they’re set for a summer of hookups when in reality, they are expected to learn how to make deeper connections without the physical aspect. Its strategy of being a “personal growth” TV show with the appeal of a typical summer-fling reality show is its key to success. The storm created when these two worlds collide is what makes viewers unable to look away from the beautifully crafted trainwreck.
The quality of the show this year is noticeably better than their last season. I remember watching last year’s edition feeling like some episodes fell flat, and most of that was from the cast members not being challenged enough. While Netflix’s first go seemed like they were creating as the show progressed, this one had more structure in the moves that were made. One of the moves used a lot this year was temptation. They start the show off by giving them 24 hours to make out with whoever they want before breaking the news that they’re actually on THTH. The narrator of the show explained to us that the cast thought they were filming a show called Parties in Paradise, which I imagine them thinking was like Love Island. When they broke the news, fan favourite, Melinda, seemed genuinely pissed off, which I found hilarious because that's when I knew she was going to make this show interesting. On the other hand, we had Chase, who seemed a little more excited than you’d think he should’ve been, and my guess is because he knew he’d have a big platform coming off of the show if he played his cards right. Based on his social media pages and new friendship with season one star, Harry Jowsey, he’s going all out with being an influencer.
If the show really wanted them to make change when it comes to their relationship with sex and intimacy, they wouldn’t encourage them to have a taste of the forbidden fruit. But of course they don’t really care, because they have messy TV to produce, and what is more messy than watching a couple who were making out just 30 seconds before being told that they can’t do that for the rest of their time there?
Despite knowing that breaking the rules would result in their $100,00 prize fund being deducted from, the cast was determined to give us a show. Even though their referee, Lana, shunned them for making mistakes, this is exactly what they want. How boring would it be for us to watch them actually do well the whole time? Rules didn’t stop Peter from kissing both Melinda and Carly, or Cam and Emily going a little too far under the sheets. When the cast members seemed to be getting ahold of their temptations, the show sent in some more people with the specific purpose of making things difficult. Later on in the series, on and off couple Marvin and Melinda ended up having sex which cost the house a whopping $20,000. When the cast lost huge amounts of money, the show gave us something to be proud of by allowing the couples to redeem themselves if they are able to make it through a night in a private suite without touching each other, or allowing them moments to make out after a relationship “breakthrough”. These moments are crucial in keeping an audience because even though it’s funny to see them mess up all the time, that can get old too. And probably the audience is horny for some action as well. And maybe some people did learn a little something from this, because a few of the couples are still together since filming wrapped back in September 2020. Cam, who was known as being a player, ended up realizing the value in commitment and is still with Emily:
That’s another golden ticket to a successful show because there has to be some sort of proof that the audience can hold onto so they want to come back, especially when social media is a huge aspect of this show’s success. Harry and Francesca from last season still have an on and off thing that keeps generating interest on TikTok and Instagram.
Overall, the show’s moral of learning how to make stronger connections that don’t involve sex while trying to make them fail is the perfect storm. We all know there’s no way every cast member left the villa as a completely different person. For example, the winner the cast voted for to get all the money, Marvin, ended up ghosting his girlfriend from the villa, Melinda, despite saying that he loved her on the show (it’s all good though because now Melinda and Peter seem to be a thing). We watch because until you’re in it, you think it wouldn’t be this hard, the pull between sex and money. That’s why I find it funny that so many people on social media were getting frustrated about how easily the cast broke the rules. But… human nature. It’s one thing to say, “Yeah, I could totally do x,y,z for this much money”, but it’s another to actually follow through. And also, the show would be boring if it was completely about self-growth and discipline. There is a market for that, and it would probably lean towards TLC. But even that channel has been pivoting towards messy reality TV with shows like 90 Day Fiancé. THTH’s unique ability to merge a feel-good self-growth theme with all that drama is what makes it stand out. We feel emotionally connected to the characters because we watched their growth from the beginning when they didn’t care about anything but having sex to the end of the show where they seemed to have learned a little bit about themselves. It’s a testament to how viewership values a little bit of both to stay interested. All of the other shows in their strict categories are too predictable, but THTH gives us that guessing game that we love. It keeps us on our toes.