Too Hot to Handle season 3 review: The horniest show on TV still fails to be sexy

The new batch of ‘horned-up hell raisers’ are smashing records for breaking the series’ chastity rules

Maanya Sachdeva
Wednesday 19 January 2022 12:51
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Too Hot to Handle season 3 trailer

Vagina worship, sexy soirées, mandated soul-searching, and a flower-plucking “Hawaiian hunk” who’s too zen to handle – season three of Netflix’s hit dating show straddles sexuality and spirituality but the effect is neither sexy nor enlightening. Strip it down to its bare parts, and the general thrust of Too Hot to Handle is watching horny twenty-somethings fail to abstain from sex on television (despite a hefty cash prize).

The first season dropped its bikini-clad booty at the height of the pandemic in April 2020. Some 51 million viewers, yearning for an exotic getaway and physical intimacy, tuned in. In 2021, audience figures sank by almost half, despite a very memorable guest appearance by a cockroach that crashed one contestant’s date.

It’s hard to predict season three’s fate but what it lacks in flying roaches, it makes up for in rebellious contestants. When this batch of “horned-up hell raisers” realise they’ve been conned into a summer of “sun, sea and no sex”, they waste no time in protesting the regime put in place by the show’s virtual host and rule-maker, “cock-blocking” Lana, despite the fact that $200,000 (£146,255) is on the line.

They smash Too Hot to Handle records for Fastest First Kiss, Pettiest Rule Break and Most Offenses by a Single Couple like their lives wouldn’t be dramatically altered by the cash prize. While long periods of singledom amid disappointing dates might be the norm for many of us, these oiled-up contestants are used to getting what they want, when they want. “Just think of all the neon bikinis you can buy with $200,000!” I want to scream at the screen.

But it’s just as well they get it on. The show is quite boring until someone slips up. The speed dates, sexual wellness retreats and masquerade parties are fillers; the real thrill is watching the words “Rule Break” flash over errant couples, who repeatedly feign shock on being called out by Lana. How have they not caught on to the show’s format yet?

Glaring loopholes notwithstanding (How did American model “Hurricane Holly” know about Lana if she really believed she was on a totally fake dating show called Pleasure Island? And how do these people believe they can get away with snogging through a pair of shorts?), season three delivers sufficient scandal, a shock shot at redemption, and even a surprise love story. But not everyone is destined for a happy ending this time. Since most of the action is driven by a handful of islanders, the others mostly sip on tropical cocktails and work on their tans.

Hawaiian model Patrick, however, deserves a special mention. The villa’s self-appointed “guru”, Patrick holds his fellow contestants to high moral standards – there’ll be no players or liars on his watch – and helps keep their anxiety at bay with meditation.

‘Too Hot to Handle’ season three contestants (L-R) Nathan, Holly and Patrick

Despite all the sexual tension, the series finale provides an unsatisfying climax. That said, I’ll continue to buy what dating shows like Too Hot to Handle are selling for as long as the pandemic lasts. After all, I’d rather believe that the road to true love is lined with forbidden first kisses, toned midriffs and swashbuckling pirate parties than awkward first dates with whoever Bumble throws my way.

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