Review: Netflix's new reality series Too Hot To Handle is a horned-up horror show you can't look away from

The concept for Netflix's new reality dating show Too Hot To Handle sounds a bit like an episode of Black Mirror. Take ten toned, tanned singles, maroon them on a luxury island, then fine them a penalty every time they have sex or touch themselves. 

Of course, the finished product doesn't have any bleak social commentaries - instead, it has the bouncy EDM tunes and slow-mo shots we've become familiar with via the likes of Love Island. 

As the audience, we're clued in from the get-go that the group is about to be "cockblocked by a robot" - an Alexa-esque device named Lana. The contestants, however, are led to believe they're just having a nice sexy holiday abroad, with lots of cameras. 

To make sure the impending "sex ban" announcement packs an ultimate punch, the producers must first demonstrate to us just how voraciously turned on everyone is - over, and over, and over. 

Before we even learn anyone's name, the suggestion of having a "big orgy" is made by one of the men within the first 10 seconds. "Everyone's so horny! Arghhh!" chimes in someone else helpfully. 

Chloe and Nicole.
Chloe and Nicole. Photo credit: Netflix

Finally, it's time to put names and faces to all the close-ups of boobs and butts we've been bombarded with. Even the lady doing the voice over is thirsty - "phwoar, I would" she says as Chloe, contestant number one walks out. 

"I'm not the brightest spark in the... book," Chloe acknowledges, which would be embarrassing if it weren't for the arrival of Hayley, who says she doesn't know what language the tattoo on her back is in. 

Chloe and Hayley immediately greet each other by comparing the size of their boobs in a manner deserving of a David Attenborough narration. If this is part of the girl code, I fear I skipped a page somewhere. 

These girls just want to have fun.
These girls just want to have fun. Photo credit: Netflix

Sharron is the first bloke on the scene. He tells us the thing he's most proud of in life is his penis, which he claims is the size of an air freshener can. He has a photo to prove this, but we don't see it - just a few slow-motion shots of him spritzing the air with a supposedly appropriately-sized canister. 

Aussie Harry bursts in, calling everyone a "naughty little quesadilla", the first of many food and animal-based nicknames he'll assign people at random.

David's approach is less convoluted. "I just try to be a nice guy," he tells producers, which as every woman knows, is the largest of red flags when uttered by a man trying to get his mack on.

Francesa walks in looking like she's just stepped off the pages of an FHM centrefold and is immediately dubbed a "possum" by Harry, which is very much a sign of things to come. 

Review: Netflix's new reality series Too Hot To Handle is a horned-up horror show you can't look away from
Photo credit: Netflix

To break up the sea of string bikinis and tropical-print boardshorts, the producers send in "deep-thinker" Matthew, who despite the Mexican heat, is wearing a beanie and trousers with a crotch so dropped, it might as well be a maxi skirt. "This is just my swag," he says when questioned. 

Conversely, Rhonda is always dressed up, and says she won't even wear jeans and flip-flops to the supermarket. Awkwardly, jeans and jandals are basically black-tie attire compared to what I'm currently wearing on my occasional grocery shops. 

Nicole is nailing the Irish catholic schoolgirl cliche by seductively eyeing the camera with her hands clasped in a prayer pose. She says back at school, everything was strict, secretive and religious and now she just "gets with anyone and no one ever finds out". 

Lastly, there's self-professed 'King of the Jungle' Kelz, who can back up his claims of big cat royalty with a tattoo of a lion on his bulging bicep and the assertion that The Lion King was always his favourite movie. 

'Just Trying To Be A Nice Guy' David and 'Deep Thinker' Matthew.
'Just Trying To Be A Nice Guy' David and 'Deep Thinker' Matthew. Photo credit: Netflix

Now all the contestants are well and truly on heat and in captivity, but I have to wonder if they're being fed. Francesa keeps talking about wanting to lick everyone, and Sharron is taking great pains to describe all the women as different flavours of ice cream. 

The contestants check out their new digs - dorm-style rooms with beds that are perfect for "getting a good rhythm for carnage with Francesa", according to Aussie Harry. 

They do spot Lana - the bit of tech that will soon declare the house a "no-bone zone" - but for now, they decide she's probably just a device that "blows out pheromones".  

The clock counts down to the sex ban, but no matter, because these flirt monsters move fast. Rhonda reclines on Sharron's lap, unaware she's set herself up for a vertebrae-crunching pash position. I scream at the television as the pair crane their necks like graceless geese feeding each other pre-digested pondweed. 

Before we know it, night has fallen. The girls have spent several hours getting glammed up and the boys have put on T-shirts. 

"Everyone is like, proper sexual," says Chloe, in case we weren't sure by now. 

The group launches into a nuanced game of 'I'm Wearing A Blindfold Now, Someone Come and Slobber On Me' which proves too much for Francesca and Harry, who adjourn to the bedroom. 

Harry can't believe his luck, nor can he resist repeatedly telling Francesca to "stop being so hot" like a bamboozled teen boy sleeptalking through a particular kind of dream.   

Of course, this is the opportune moment for Lana the anti-sex robot to make herself known. She calls the group into a meeting and lays down the rules about nobody getting laid. Money will be deducted from the $100,000 grand prize for every slip-up. 

Dear oh dear.
Dear oh dear. Photo credit: Netflix

"This will also apply to self-gratification," Lana adds. 

The Brits cringe. None of the Americans know what this means, but boy, do they lose it when it's explained to them. 

"Bro, no way," says Matthew. 

"Should have knocked one out yesterday," laments David. 

Still, not everyone is so despondent. Chloe says she's sure she can keep her legs closed for $100,000. Us lucky things? We'll have to wait and see.

Frustrating, absurd and decidedly bawdy, Too Hot To Handle is a horned-up horror show, and try as a might, I could not look away. 

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