The 100-Day Challenge, Writing

Trash TV Review: Too Hot To Handle

About once a year, I get completely sucked into a show so infinitely stupid that I would probably stop to question everything I know about the world if I hadn’t temporarily lost the ability to be self-aware. And when this happens, I feel obligated to review for the masses.

I can remember some of the other ones, though only vaguely. And based on memory alone, my reviews are thusly:

“Joe Millionaire” in 2003 stood out because my mother said that I “could not attend that women’s studies conference and watch that show at the same time.” She was not wrong but by then, we were 80% done with it so I just had to finish it right? [I saw some sort of reboot came back this year which further proves that television networks are out of ideas.]

“Rock of Love” was sometime in the 2004-2006 region. All these women fighting to fall in love with Bret Michaels of Poison. When that one ended, Carrie and I went to get STD testing, assuming it was possible to catch chlamydia just watching the damn thing.

In 2020, I watched the entirety of “Love Is Blind” on Netflix. My defense was that it was a pandemic and I could only watch so much Korean baseball at 4 a.m. I did not believe that two people could fall in love with a wall between them never having laid eyes on each other. Mostly I believed this because one of the quotes a contestant said was, “Mark is very emotionally available. To me, it’s a bit of a red flag.”

And now, Netflix has blessed me with “Too Hot To Handle: Season 3.”

Official TV Review

Did I watch Seasons 1 and 2? No. Perhaps I thought it was a cooking show and wasn’t interested. Or maybe my algorithm hadn’t yet led the Netflix overlords to consider my enjoyment of trash TV every so often. But they’ve got it now. [And yes, I know it came out last year, but my 22-year-old coworker and I are now watching and reporting back the next day so that’s where we’re at.]

The shorthand premise/review of the show is this:

  1. Find some hot people who like to hook up.
  2. Tell them the show is called “Pleasure Island” and lead them to believe they will have a summer filled with sexual escapades. [I did have a question about this part: Did these people think there was no premise other than that? Were they hoping this was their breakthrough to soft-core pornography? It makes no sense.]
  3. Let them have 12 hours to “build relationships” with someone else on the island and start the egg timer to them beginning to get their freak on.
  4. Bring them to a half circle and tell them, “Haha just kidding! You’re on the show where you get money for not hooking up.” [These 12 reacted like they’d just been informed of their incurable cancer diagnosis.]
  5. Introduce “Lara” – this omnipotent voice emanating from something that looks like one of those cone air fresheners. These contestants seem to know Lara well and groan that they now cannot hump each other or the … cone thingee lights up and gets mad.
Who voices Lana on Too Hot to Handle? | Radio Times
At one point, they actually pray to this thing to turn their watches green so they can hook up quick. I’m sorry, does that not make sense to you?

6. The kicker is that if all 12 of them stay celibate [and they mean 100% celibate] they will each pocket $200,000. But for every kiss, hump, and moan, money gets deducted from everyone’s winnings. In Season 3, this lineup managed to behave for exactly nine minutes. [This part is actually very informative as to why this age group was unable to stay even kind of socially distanced during the pandemic. Even if we’d offered them $200,000 each, nothing would have changed.]
7. Obviously, the psychological game of letting everyone down versus self-gratification is the point. When a kiss costs everyone $6,000, it might make you stop and think, right? Wrong. [I’m not even all that far into the season and one couple has cost the group $69,000.]
8. They do exercises during the day to increase their ability to form emotional connections. This has included “straddling and breathing” and “slapping each other’s asses with paint.” [I still regret never having tried to be a relationship guru for reality television because let me tell you, I have some ideas.]
9. These people cry a lot, but it definitely feels more like whining about the unfairness of the rules than emotional connection.
10. At one point, a couple makes out but has a piece of cloth between their mouths so they think they’re skirting the rules and won’t get caught. [It will shock you to know this is the $69,000 couple.]

Last but not least, my question about all reality TV remains the same as it was in 1992 when I began watching Season 2 of “The Real World”: Do their parents watch these shows? Their exes? Future employers? Is it the lead item on their resumes? Is “able to resist sexual contact for handsome reward” a skill you discuss in an interview?

Trash TV has its time and place in my life. And that time seems to be February, after 11 p.m., which feels about right.

Gotta jet. Gonna go pray to my air fresheners now.

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