While I would love to say spending hours of my life binge-watching Netflix was a pastime I adopted during social distancing, that would be a baldfaced lie. The truth is that I've been loyal to the TV binge since it's conception, sneaking in hours of shows like "Gossip Girl" and "One Tree Hill" between homework assignments as a high school student.
Netflix has never failed to provide me with a good excuse to get comfy on my couch and this period of social distancing has been no exception. When things feel hopeless and there seems to be little to look forward to, the streaming giant has continued to brighten my day with their newly released hits.
The most recent sensation, a reality show titled, "Too Hot To Handle," is as steamy, shocking and over-the-top as it sounds. Before you dive in, here's everything you need to know about the reality series everyone is buzzing about.
What is “Too Hot to Handle” on Netflix?
The series follows a cast of core characters who believe they are about to have a dream vacation filled with scantily-clad singles, provocative parties and sunbathing. While they're not necessarily wrong, the show's producers drop a huge twist on the group just hours after they meet.
What's the twist? The cast must refrain from all sexual activity, including kissing, for the duration of the show's filming. If they are successfully able to keep their hands off of each other, they could walk away with $100,000 worth of prize money to split. Every time a couple breaks the rules, money is deducted from the pot.
Sounds easy enough, right? Not for this group.
By removing sex from the equation, the show's virtual host, Lana, hopes to help the cast develop deep, personal connections despite their tendency for flings and one-night stands in the real world. Lana gives Chris Harrison a run for his money, chiming in when the cast members least expect it, laying down the law and providing a healthy dose of realism.
Who’s in the “Too Hot to Handle” cast?
The cast is full of hotties, self-proclaimed players and big personalities from around the world. They are all single and very ready to mingle. Sparks begin to fly right off the bat and the sexual tension is so thick it could be cut with a knife.
Similar to "Bachelor in Paradise," contestants are voted out or choose to leave as the show progresses, while new people are added to the mix. Let's get to know the main players!
From British Colombia, Canada, Francesca Farago has been a favorite among early fans of the show. In her introduction, she boasts about her large social media following, hot body, pretty face and sparkling personality. One thing is for certain, she isn't lacking an ego.
Her early flirtation with Australia native Harry Jowsey leads to the first of many monetary deductions from the $100,000 pot. But as a self-described "rule-breaker," Farago proves more than once that she isn't afraid to spice things up.
Caught between flings, she often finds herself at the center of the drama, but it's her natural flair for stirring the pot that kept me on the edge of my seat episode after episode.
At first, it's hard to think of him as anything by Farago's love interest. Hailing from Queensland, Australia, Jowsey makes a name for himself early on when he blames Farago for kissing him after he was clearly the one to initiate the illicit act. Despite his initial selfishness, he and Farago can't seem to stay away from each other.
From the beginning, the 23-year-old described himself as cheeky and I couldn't agree more. While he left much to be desired in the maturity category, in between wincing at his more cringe-worthy moments, I couldn't help but root for him.
A walking dichotomy, Sharron Townsend opened the show by describing himself as both a feminist and a player. The 25-year-old from New Jersey also shared that the feature he is, well, you will have to watch to find out.
While his first impression isn't stellar, you could argue that Townsend experiences the most emotional growth of any castmate on the show. As things heat up between him and his love interest Rhonda Paul, a soft side of Townsend pokes through his tough, tattooed exterior.
When asked to rate herself, Rhonda Paul gave herself a 10 out of 10. She says she's the type of girl who likes to look her best no matter where she headed, even if it's the grocery store.
The 27-year-old from Georgia is an early favorite among a few of the gentleman, but it's her relationship with Townsend where the sparks seem to shine the brightest.
She's a steady sailor in stormy seas and easily one of the most likable characters on the show.
Kelechi "Kelz" Dyke
Kelz Dyke is clear from the start that he doesn't chase girls and he doesn't do relationships. Despite the goal of the show being to build deeper emotional connections, Dyke is all about the money.
Someone had to be the accountant and Dyke is more than happy to be that guy. Did he miss an opportunity at love? I'll let you be the judge of that.
From Essex, U.K., Veitch is the self-described ditz of the show. Some might argue she's just one of the many ditsy characters, but I'll keep those opinions to myself.
Veitch is one of the first characters to be set up on a date with fellow Brit David Birtwistle. They push the no-kissing rule to the very edge in what can only be described as a crime against chocolate-covered strawberries. You'll have to watch to see if their connection is as sweet as their close encounter.
David Birtwistle is from London. The 28-year-old says his favorite move for picking up girls is walking into a bar and taking his shirt off. As the show goes on, Birtwistle realizes he has to shed more than his shirt to create an emotional connection.
He is another character who transforms for the better. I shed a single tear for Birtwistle as he navigated romance and revealed that he is more than just a shirtless guy in a bar.
Matthew Smith stands out like a sore thumb from the minute he walks in the door. While most cast members are dressed in pool party attire including swim trunks and bikinis, Smith comes in wearing a pink beanie, white T-shirt and black pants. When he removes the beanie, he reveals a thick head of hair pulled into a slick man bun. His look wins him the nickname Jesus almost immediately.
The Colorado native calls himself a "deep thinker." He says he has a lot of questions about monogamy and would prefer to sow his seeds with women all over the world.
He takes on the role of "sex police" sniffing out crimes. Was he too focused on everyone else to find love? Only time will tell.
Is this new Netflix dating show worth the watch?
"Too Hot to Handle" gives a new meaning to the term guilty pleasure. The show is a perfect combination of dramatic, sexy and cringe-worthy.
Between the sassy narrator who says exactly what we're all thinking, the virtual host who's not afraid to lay down the law and the ensemble of attractive cast members, this show leaves little to be desired. Anyone who thought "Love Is Blind" missed the physical mark or that "The Bachelor in Paradise" could be enhanced with a looming cash prize will devour this series.
Did I watch every episode in one sitting? Yes. Would I recommend it to my grandmother? No. Do with that information what you will.