Cameron Hamilton and Lauren Speed from Netflix’s “Love is Blind” chat with USA TODAY about their engagement and keeping their marriage a secret.
Spoiler alert! This story contains details from the first two episodes of “Too Hot to Handle.”
Well, it’s been two whole months since Netflix dropped an outrageous new dating show. So enter “Too Hot to Handle” (now streaming).
Ten horny singles, all too happy to brag about their dating and sex lives, venture to Mexico. The only problem in paradise? A surprise twist revealed 12 hours into their stay at a beachside villa: The $100,000 grand prize can be theirs, but only if they resist temptation and build “meaningful connections,” which means kissing and any sexual contact – even self-gratification – is off the table.
Money is deducted from the winnings when the rules are broken. Lana, a cone-shaped watchdog/voice assistant, is keeping tabs on transgressions and personal growth.
The eight-episode series, which follows Netflix’s sight-unseen romance “Love Is Blind,” was inspired in part by the classic 1992 “Seinfeld” episode “The Contest,” in which Jerry and the gang try to be “masters of their domains,” says executive producer Jonno Richards.
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Executive producer Viki Kolar acknowledges that casting for the show, taped at a Mexican villa in April 2019, was “complicated.”
“We had to be honest and upfront with them, while at the same time knowing we couldn’t tell them everything,” Kolar says. “We basically told them it was a dating show, it was going to be somewhere hot and exotic and that there was a chance to win money.”
Upon arrival, the contestants flirt confidently over champagne and seem sensual but often clueless.
The men enter with aplomb. Sharron, from New Jersey, brags that he’s “definitely got a lot of people on the bench.” David, of London, describes himself as “brains and brawn, #LovesASexParty.” London also gifted us with Kelz, who fancies himself an “alpha male” and equates “long term” with “like, four weeks.” Harry, from Queensland, Australia, says he tried to hit on Kendall Jenner in a direct message, writing “Hello, my little butter chicken.” Can Colorado hippie Matthew, who’s playfully called Jesus by other contestants because of his looks, save them?
Their potential mates include “party girl” Nicole from Cork, Ireland and Chloe, a Brit who describes herself as “not the brightest spark… um, in the book.” We’re guessing she’s talking about a matchbook? Haley, from Florida, has a tattoo in a language other than English, but she isn’t sure which language, exactly. She also has “no idea” where Australia is but seems to have successfully located Mexico! Francesca, from Vancouver, just wants to lick the men’s bodies. And after Rhonda, who traveled from Georgia, takes in the men, she is “ready to just jump on (two) like a baby cheetah.”
After the introductions are made, sparks begin to fly.
Rhonda has two suitors: The enthusiastic sunscreen-applier David, and Sharron, who plants a kiss on Rhonda while the two are sunbathing in a chair.
Chloe says she would “ruin” Harry, but he has his sights set on Francesca, a raven-haired vixen who wants the boys to “Come and get it.” Perhaps Chloe will return Matthew’s affection? Meanwhile, Kelz lusts after a “mix” of Francesca and Haley.
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Gathered around a beachside fire pit, Sharron introduces an intimate way to pass the time: “The Blindfold Game,” in which a player wearing a blindfold has to guess who kissed or touched them.
Nicole kisses David, and Rhonda goes in for another kiss with Sharron. Chloe kisses a blindfolded Harry, but when Francesca is beneath the blindfold, he goes in for the kill. Her review? “The kiss was magical, and all we want to do is rip each other’s clothes off.” They make out in the group bedroom where all of the contestants later sleep, but they’re interrupted by the mysterious Lana, who ominously requests a group meeting.
“In the last 12 hours, I have been observing you, and learning about your behavior. It has been most insightful,” says the Alexa-like device, perched on an end table. “You have been specially selected because all of you are having meaningless flings over genuine relationships.”
The contestants appear anxious.
“Is anyone else gonna (expletive) puke?” asks Francesca, waiting for the bomb to drop.
“You will have to abstain from sexual practices for the entirety of your stay,” Lana says. “This will also apply to self-gratification.”
The group is in shock. Faces fall and Kelz gasps.
“There’s never been this amount of time where I’ve gone without anything,” Sharron says. “It’s definitely a setup.”
Chloe is more confident she can be motivated by the large sum of money. “If I’m tempted, I’ll be like, ‘Think of your nan!'”
And the contestants seem well aware they’re under intense, “Big Brother”-style scrutiny.
“We actually spent quite a lot of time making sure that we did watch them like hawks,” Kolar says. Even in the bathroom: “We never actually filmed them within the toilet space, but we did have their mics on at all times, and we made it clear to them that we were watching them.
“We were sleeping with one eye open, as it were.”
But rules are made to be broken, isn’t that right, Harry and Francesca? Harry pulls his girl in, and in the second episode, the two share a passionate lip-lock while away from the group. But while they may have evaded their roommates, nothing gets past Lana. In front of the group, Lana announces the blunder slashed $3,000 from the pot, to the dismay of the other participants.
How many others will cross the line? They say money can’t buy you happiness, but on “Too Hot to Handle,” it can buy you some fun.
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