Netflix’s ‘Too Hot to Handle’ is Too Much to Endure

Published on April 21, 2020

Netflix has gotten into the reality TV game. Their first major hit, Love is Blind, couldn’t stop people from shutting up about the high-concept dating show. Now, Netflix has produced another high-concept but low-brow dating series, Too Hot to Handle, which goes to the darkest bottoms of the barrel. 

Brain Cells Melting

No judgement against anybody who enjoys the mindless quality of shows such as Too Hot to Handle. They’re meant to turn the brain off. There are shows that do it exceptionally well, but Too Hot to Handle does not. It’s so… smug and in-your-face. It’s so damn loud, too, and made for the Instagram generation. 

It doesn’t help that most of the characters are insufferable with the exception of The Accountant, Rhonda Paul, and maybe Lydia. Let’s say characters, not people, because these people are playing it up the camera and their performances are shaped by editors. They’re characters, and these characters are mostly a chore to endure. 

Why Can’t We Judge?

A part of the fun of a good dating show is judging the characters, especially after a couple of drinks. These shows are guilt-free avenues for judgement. They can’t hear you. It’s a safe space to judge with no reservation. 

The characters on Too Hot to Handle are no fun to judge, though, partly because the voiceover keeps doing it for the audience. It’s just too much. The jokes are terrible (not in a charming way), it’s almost nonstop, and doesn’t let the gross, annoying, or comical behavior speak for itself. 

Bad Setup 

Even calling Too Hot to Handle “high-concept” is giving it too much credit. Is “low-concept” a thing? It should be, especially in the case of Too Hot to Handle. As far as junk television goes, the Netflix show can’t even deliver the goods on low-hanging fruit. The setup is terrible. It takes far too long to layout the rules, then new rules keep popping up, and it just keeps going. Why does a show called Too Hot to Handle need so much explaining and voiceovers? It’s just bad storytelling with the simplest of formulas. How do you mess up a formula so simple and proven?

Who to Root For?

There should  be one person to really root for in these situations. There should be somebody somewhat self-aware and self-effacing. Except for the accountant and Rhonda, none of the characters have a clue, redeeming qualities, or standout beyond their aesthetic. The only fun in watching them interact is how most of them think the person next to them is the real idiot of the group. 

Too Handle to Handle characters –– nobody is endearing and you want to win the money or find love. You almost keep forgetting money is at stake, because well, who cares? The show takes forever to establish rules, but then… they’re rendered meaningless. No real thought should be put into a reality dating TV show, but when they’re bad, it’s hard not to realize all the problems. The bar is always so low for a show like Too Hot to Handle, and yet it can’t reach it. 

So Bad it’s Good?

Unfortunately not, people. There is not much entertainment value in the Netflix experiment. It’s one of the streaming platform’s most popular shows at the moment, but it’s garbage without any of the fun of consuming garbage. It’s the kind of garbage that makes you feel regretful, not joyful. It mostly comes down to the characters. Without naming names, some of them are truly grating, nails on chalkboard characters. There’s so little charisma and humor. A show like this needs entertaining characters. They don’t need to be geniuses or possess movie star charisma, but man, a few likable characters do go a long way. Without them, a show like Too Hot to Handle is too much to handle. 

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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