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Friday, April 19, 2024

Review: ‘Too Hot to Handle’ is just absurd enough to be a hit

The show may not be the most deep, but it is undeniably entertaining 

By CLARA FISCHER — arts@theaggie.org

This article contains spoilers for season three of “Too Hot To Handle.”

“Too Hot to Handle,” the crossover between “Love Island” and “Big Brother” that nobody asked for, has returned for a third season. I’ll admit, reality TV isn’t exactly the pinnacle of human development, but this show is definitely a guilty pleasure that’ll keep you entertained from start to finish.

The premise is fairly straightforward. A group of conventionally attractive people in their twenties are essentially lured onto the show under the impression that they’ll be participating in a free-for-all, expenses paid dating show for the summer. However, at the end of the first episode, the hosts reveal the actual reason they have been invited to Turks and Caicos.

The singles are told that there is to be no physical intimacy of any sort, including kissing, heavy petting, sex and “self-gratificiation.” Every time a rule is broken, money will be deducted from a $100,000 prize fund meant to be allocated to the cast member that has benefited the most from the retreat.

These rules are laid down and enforced by Lana, a talking cone that acts as co-host of the show, along with narration by real-life human Desiree Burch. Lana also has the responsibility of determining the finalists who she feels grew the most in their time on the island, one of which then gets voted as the winner by their fellow retreat guests. 

It’s hard to keep a show this simple entertaining for multiple seasons in a row. No matter how charming the British slang and surprisingly progressive workshops are, the series wouldn’t be nearly as successful as it is without the pure, unhinged oddity of its cast. From Patrick, the super-buff Hawaiian that unsuccessfully attempts to serenade the girl of his dreams, to Brianna, the California girl whose late arrival onto the island caused quite a stir, there would be little reason for viewers to tune in if it weren’t for the personalities of the cast. 

Toward the end of the season, the prize fund hits zero for the first time in “Too Hot to Handle” history after a brief stint where Lana pretends to be offline as a test of the guests’ progress. Naturally, as soon as they assume that the omnipotent cone is no longer watching, they proceed to spend the funds still left over in the pot in a single night. 

This attests to the ultimate question at the heart of the show — are the stars actually gaining anything from this besides notoriety and a chance at their 15 minutes of fame? Is it possible that “Too Hot to Handle” has ascended beyond trashy reality TV into a program that actually will better a small part of society?

The answer is more than likely no, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to watch. With only eight episodes, the series is easily palatable and enjoyable in a “What am I watching right now?” kind of way. Some of the more absurd one-offs and the tacky editing style made me laugh so much that I don’t think it could be considered ironic. 

It is interesting, though, to see a visual representation of the phrase “sex sells” being displayed so prominently on the screen. I’m not sure what exactly the show’s success says about society, but there’s no time to think too deeply about it when you’re fixated on the fallout from the latest love triangle.

 

Written by: Clara Fischer — arts@theaggie.org

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