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When Harry Met Francesca
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Boys to Men
Bryce Isn’t Right
Sisters Over Misters
Lust or Bust
Too Hot To Handle feels like a Frankenstein’s Monster of different reality shows. Sewn together are elements of Ex On The Beach, Temptation Island, Love Island and Big Brother but instead of an intricately textured work of reality art, the show feels smooshed together with PVA glue and then thrown at a wall. The remnants of which then photographed and framed.
Much like this unique modern art example, this questionable, trashy reality binge will divide audiences between those who absolutely love this and those who absolutely hate it.
The first episode sets the scene and begins with an introduction to our sex-crazed singles, with a countdown to their sex ban (akin to that infamous countdown on Ex On The Beach), and the subsequent realization at the end that no one can engage in any sexual activity. In and of itself this is an idea that has the makings of an interesting show, exploring the deeper side of one’s personality but midway through it becomes apparent that, much like its contestants, the temptation to give in on its morals and original concept is too hard to resist..
From a twist that undermines the entire premise, to secret rooms and extra contestants entering the villa, all of these ideas feel messily implemented, all the while overseen by the grotesque, robotic Lana, a hybrid of the Tablet Of Terror and Big Brother.
The problem with Too Hot To Handle is that it throws everything and the kitchen sink into this show in a bid to try and appeal to every reality TV fan. As a simple concept of no touching and sticking strictly to the rules, this has all the ingredients to be another reality hit but there’s just too many contradictions and issues with this that hold it back from being a better guilty pleasure.
Stylistically, all the usual reality cues from a show like this are here – with plenty of sexual innunedos, hot bodies, musical cutaways and the talking head segments that’ll have you rolling your eyes, tutting and raising your eyebrows at the various different cutaways designed to get you laughing and invested in what’s happening.
There are also hashtags that pop up in the different episodes, while the steep penalties for breaking the rules do inject some serious drama into the mix. Only, that aforementioned twist midway through undermines this and undoes some of the drama built until this point.
With plenty of gimmicks, conventional reality tropes you’d expect and an innate desire to try and clutch at the success of other, better reality shows, Too Hot To Handle is too similar to stand out and too flimsy in its premise. What we’re left with then is a show that tries hard to outdo other reality shows but misses the bar by quite some way.