We've already got a million versions of Love Island and Jersey Shore where people with more fake tan than sense get wasted and sleep with strangers in a "luxury" destination.
So what could Netflix's latest reality serving have to offer that makes it any different? Simple; a plot twist designed for all of us at home to put on our judging hats and bang the gavel (and by gavel, I definitely mean keyboard).
Too Hot to Handle starts exactly like all the others; 10 super hot singles come together to have "the most exotic and erotic summer of their lives", but the twist is that they have to abstain from any sexual practices — even with themselves — or else the grand prize of US$100,000 ($167,100) goes down by a hefty amount.
When I first heard about this I thought; what kind of fame-hungry fool is going to voluntarily sign up for this show? But here's the best bit; they didn't actually know what they were getting themselves into until it was too late.
The 10 singles spend 12 hours in their new resort, instantly clocking up members of the opposite sex (would it have killed them to invite some queer folks?) and ranking them in order of preference like the world's most inappropriate buffet.
They're introduced by the omnipresent and largely purposeless narrator as the "hottest, horniest, most commitment-phobic" crew the production could find.
They do nothing to dispute this; there's one woman for whom "dating apps are like a part-time job", another who is "most proud" of his penis, and a girl who seems vaguely queer but only for women who "look just like me". Freud would have a field day.
The singles waste no time in marking their territory and even manage a weird game of spin the bottle except without the bottle — literally just making out blindfolded — so that as bedtime approaches, they're all ready for action. That's when the bombshell is dropped; no sex, no kissing, not even masturbation, or you lose everyone thousands of dollars.
By their totally proportionate and not at all ridiculous reactions, you'd almost think they'd been told they were going into lockdown for four weeks as they start to agonise over how long they can last without sex as if it were food. It's funny for a bit — especially as the guys get so desperate they start flirting with their virtual assistant (I guess they didn't have the budget to spring for an actual host) — but from then on it's all pretty much your usual burning trash heap of reality fare.
Siena Yates: The perfect series to watch in lockdown
Siena Yates: The only thing wrong with Random Acts of Flyness
Siena Yates: Tiger King is entertaining but should it be?
Things do get interesting when rule violations wind up costing anywhere from US$3000 to US$20,000 a pop, and fair enough. Imagine if someone offered you US$100,000 with the only condition being that your friends keep it in their pants for four weeks.
Otherwise, there's all the usual "will they, won't they", some sneaking about, jealousy, petty arguments and, of course, despite the rules, a fair amount of "monkey business".
On the plus side, this does seem to be the latest of Netflix's recent attempts to combat the era of disconnection and one which almost does a reasonably good job at it. Following the likes of Love is Blind and 100 Humans, Too Hot to Handle also works to deepen human connections beyond the physical. Couples are even offered a literal green light to get hot and steamy as a reward for building a more meaningful connection.
There are some workshops offered which are actually quite good, and some people do genuinely wind up growing and changing their ways.
It seems idiotic and superficial on the surface — and for the most part it is — but this show definitely speaks to millennials' and Gen-Z's tendencies to use sex and image to avoid vulnerability. These are people who are so used to only gaining attention and validation through their looks that when you force them to confront themselves, what they actually want and why they've been so afraid to admit to wanting it, things get pretty real.
You can kind of see what Netflix was going for here, but much like its "true crime" series Tiger King, it spent more time making fun of its subjects than focusing on anything truly meaningful. So while I get it and I'm grateful for the nice moments of insight it did manage to provide, I'm mostly just annoyed that I had to sift through eight episodes of Love Island-type nonsense to pick it out.