Too Hot To Handle: Season 5

The fifth season of Netflix’s guilty pleasure Too Hot To Handle maintains consistency with its contestants as seen in the previous season, having successfully rebuilt its reputation after a ham-fisted and embarrassing fourth season.  It seems as though the production behind this provocative reality show has finally figured out that the strength of the show depends on the charisma of its cast, and not on the boundaries of the game.

For those who have been living under a rock, Too Hot To Handle is a loose competition where one reality show turns into another.  Sex-obsessed hunks and babes are tricked into abstinence after agreeing to star on a reality show that would, otherwise, guarantee horny debauchery with each other.  A prize money pot is available to win if the contestants can keep their hands off each other….and themselves.  If they slip up, prize money is deducted from the fund.

As someone whose apprehension with the silly premise has turned into genuine interest, it’s been neat to see how Too Hot To Handle has “upped” its own ante.  For instance, the ruse to trick unsuspecting people has become increasingly outrageous and complicated using big spectacles to distract attention away from the actual show.  This time, the amateur reality stars are brought on to a yacht to mingle before floating away – pretty tame in comparison to the past.  However, in retrospect, this was an early strategy for the show to distance itself from the possibilities of how people can abuse the rules of the game.  Before, it was entertaining to see how Too Hot To Handle could backfire.  Now, it’s frustrating watching someone siphon the prize money for selfish reasons.  Breaking the system has been less anarchic and more of a cliché.

Lana, an electronic referee and the show’s trademark, is incorporated more into this latest season, offering more of a guiding hand.  Instead of acting as a gimmicky transition that moves the show along through each achievement or reprimand, Lana is more observant and squashes any funny business that could derail physical challenges.  She does so in a manner that’s still funny and avoids being a buzzkill.

Despite the fifth season being a strong round for Too Hot To Handle, there are too many fingerprints over various arcs on the show.  By the final batch of episodes, it’s clear that the producers want specific people to have relationships with each other.  Thankfully, this noodling doesn’t taint the fitting finalists who compete for the grand prize.  However, when it’s obvious that key relationships are being heavily manipulated to fit a desired end result, the unpredictability unravels faster than a string bikini.


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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