I’ll be honest: I’m a big film and television fan. But the one genre that has always eluded me is reality television. I don’t care whether it’s the more “sophisticated” lives of large celebrities like the Kardashians, or the party hard lifestyles of the childish adults on the “Jersey Shore,” the genre can never seem to catch my attention for long.
My biggest problem with reality TV is that I never see anything new coming from it, especially the ones that have to do with “finding love.” It’s always the same format: A group of good-looking people live in a beautiful villa for a select amount of time, hook up, and look to win a big pot of money without being eliminated.
It’s the same cliches that have had Americans hooked since the 1990’s. Viewing the same thing over and over again tends to get a little boring for me, which is why I was pleasantly surprised when I watched Netflix’s new eight-episode reality TV series “Too Hot to Handle.”
I cannot tell you why I clicked on “Too Hot To Handle” when it popped up in my Netflix recommended list. I knew that it was one of the reality shows that I never liked watching and that I probably wasn’t going to have an extreme interest in it. It was just one of those moments where you dive in without asking any questions and hope to be pleasantly surprised.
I’m glad to say that my leap of faith paid off.
“Too Hot to Handle” starts off like any other reality TV series: personal introductions of the gorgeous cast bragging about how much they love hooking up, no commitments and a hope to find “love.” Really, all they’re looking for is a good time and to enjoy the “pleasures” per se, of the other people around them.
But there’s a twist.
Building Positivity Over Hook Ups — What?
With this TV show, an artificial intelligence bot named Lana will guide them on a spiritual and emotional journey where they’ll attempt to establish personal connections, all while abstaining from all sexual touching. If the contestants failed to do so, every violation would result in them losing a portion of their $100,000 pot.
Instantly, this caught my attention. I’d never seen or heard of a reality television show that would put this challenge on its contestants. Not only this, but it was focusing on building positivity and strengthening personal and romantic relationships of the people as well? What?
The show’s surprising premise was definitely one of the reasons I continued to watch. Usually, the audience is in it for the drama, the suspense, and watching their favorite contestant eventually finding the love — and the money that they came in searching for. While there definitely is a culmination of all of this in this Netflix series, not only are these contestants hopefully leaving with money and love, but they’re also leaving with growth and a new perspective.
Lots of Lost Causes
In the beginning, every single contestant on “Too Hot to Handle” looked like a lost cause. The first two contestants shown, Sharron and Chloe, solidified this for me at the beginning They instantly began talking about being there strictly for sexual pleasure, and boasting about their genitalia. From the start, there were talks between contestants who were feeling each other, basically saying, screw the money and deciding that they were going to do what they wanted.
However, with the help of others in the villa, they all started working towards the mission of establishing the proper romantic and personal connections. It was interesting to see how some characters (who openly admitted to not expecting to find love) quickly transform into people who were not afraid to break down their own personal walls and open up.
Changes for the Best
Throughout the series, we see almost every single character change for the best. The selfish become more considerate. The childish find maturity. And the damaged, slowly, but surely pick up the pieces of their past in order to fix themselves. Yes, the money and the hooking up are still there to reel everyone in. But as unbelievable as it sounds, the discovery of each contestant’s new sense of self-worth every passing episode, workshop, or circumstance was the most rewarding part.
Yes, “Too Hot To Handle” is another cheesy reality TV show. Yet, it has an appeal that other shows like it are not able to capture, due to its introspection and the show’s end goal of trying to establish stronger, more fluent personal relationships.
“Too Hot to Handle” allows us to think about people we see all the time, and possibly the people we are, as the contestants struggle and grow on their journey to find true love. I will continue to develop these thoughts as I wait eagerly for season two.