Too Hot to Handle’s new season signals our generation’s inability to connect emotionally

The show offers an opportunity for us to reflect on hookup culture

Too Hot to Handle returns for Season 2 on Netflix.

Too Hot to Handle (THTH) strikes back with a new scandalous, sizzling group of contestants once again challenged with fostering emotional connections that go beyond abs and boobs—ooh-la-la.

It’s exciting to see contestants on the show who don’t have a failed talking stage and are able to form an official relationship. Considering the normalization of hook-up culture and how it influences sex in the lives of university students, it’s rare to see folks close to our age become serious onscreen.

THTH is a rather refreshing reality show. Viewers witness a group of unsuspecting people trapped on an island and struggling to adhere to a four-week sex ban, enforced by see-all tell-all robot, Lana. Problematic casts and drama aside, THTH actually demonstrates what society needs right now.

Our generation has arguably defined emotional vulnerability as a form of weakness. It seems like we hide behind an iron shield of apathy in hopes of not getting hurt in romantic relationships.

The reality show’s four-week sex ban, as hilarious as it may seem, sheds light on how people are willing to avoid an emotional connection by restricting themselves to meaningless flings.

Throughout the show, fans see participants gradually pair up with one another. Some stay together through a few episodes, while others switch partners when new contestants arrive. Despite the constant ill-commitments from the cast, some contestants actually make their relationships work by developing deep emotional connections and changing their past player ways.

THTH not only enforced a strict sex-ban, but also hosted spiritual workshops to guide contestants in confronting their demons and letting in their feelings. THTH’s new season was serious in its goal of fostering genuine and strong connections between cast members, especially because individuals who failed to embrace emotional growth were also asked to leave. 

For example, couples like Emily and Cam and Marvin and Melinda—in spite of the rather dramatic cat and mouse games—held on to the end and even popped the “will you be my girlfriend” question.

Absolutely groundbreaking.

While casual sex is a rather revolutionary step in our society, that many have argued to promote in communications, transparency, and sexual health, it’s also made finding real love a lot more complicated.

And THTH seems to be simplifying just that.

Despite the show’s intention to delve beyond the surface-level lust and attraction, THTH had one key factor that ultimately led many to questions whether any of the connections were even real: the $100,000 prize.

All contestants were promised a prize of $100,000 evenly divided amongst themselves—that is, if they followed the rules. However, with each breach, including a $3,000 deduction for kissing, the prize decreased.

Perhaps the money was the perfect incentive to get contestants on the show to really try and foster emotional connections, but Lana’s final plot twist—only offering the grand prize to one winner—was a clever way to assess if the contestants had actually learned how to connect with one another.

Without the guaranteed incentive of a prize all the contestants had a chance to break all the rules and risk their winnings, but they didn’t. Granted, it was a reality show, and the contestants could also bear backlash online.

Problematic casts and exaggerations aside, THTH might be on to something. Perhaps trapping contestants on an island with strict regulations actually fostered real feelings and emotions.

Maybe THTH will be the show to dismantle our generational shield of apathy, and viewers are just witnessing a very entertaining, albeit diabolical version, of the next step in dating.

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