As Netflix continues to one-up itself with bottom-of-the-barrel reality TV programming that’s actually good, it’s easy to think, Won’t the audience tire of watching the same show over and over again? The answer is no—not as long as producers continue to find objectively hot contestants eager to embarrass themselves on television for a future career as an influencer.
Their confidence is aspirational, in a way, and I usually find myself endeared to a few players. On Love Is Blind, it was runaway bride Giannina Gibelli. On The Circle, it was Joey Sasso, the lovable guido who served not only as a saving grace for the show but for bros everywhere. On Too Hot To Handle, there is no one. But there is a contestant named Harry Jowsey, a handsome 20-something from Queensland, Australia who is completely insufferable and likely to become a fan favorite.
Too Hot to Handle is stylized like Love Island: men and women from the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and Ireland meet up in a tropical paradise for... well, it’s unclear. Maybe to find love. The set looks so similar to the U.K. Love Island that I wouldn’t be surprised if its the exact same location. Throughout the premiere, 14 sexy singles fawn over one another, unaware that a cone-shaped Alexa-type, voice-activated device has been tracking their every word. When Alexa reveals herself as the Orwellian, all-powerful producer behind the show, she gives the contestants strict orders, creating the central conflict: for the duration of their stay, the players cannot kiss, fuck, or masturbate. In the end, one winner will claim a $100,000 prize. For any violation of the rules, a piece of the prize money is deducted.
As the season progresses, the cost of each intimacy act is revealed: $3,000 for kissing, $6,000 for oral sex, $20,000 for penetrative sex. It’s unclear what the contestants thought the show was going to be before getting there, or how a winner would be chosen in the end, but it really doesn’t matter. The concept is deranged enough that such obvious plot holes don’t distract from the goal. All the players are mind blown by the cone’s news—apparently, they expected to be able to fuck everyone—and are forced to strategize. Some become dedicated to winning the money, others are in it for the spectacle: including Harry Jowsey.
When he’s first introduced to the show, Jowsey is a charismatic Aussie who refers to the cast as “naughty little quesadillas.” He’s full of quirky greetings like that, often referring to women as “my little butter chicken,” because he believes it endears people to him. For a few minutes, it works—until he’s the first to break the rules, making out with another contestant and then telling everyone she instigated the offense. The others are quick to side with his interpretation of events, leading one contestant to refer to the woman he kissed as “toxic.” She’s quickly given the role of a villain, and he becomes celebrated because no one seems to believe her. Eventually, they get back together, because she still has a crush on the guy who turned the house against her, and together, they proceed to lose everyone tens of thousands of dollars. Still, everyone around finds his goofiness endearing, and he becomes a household favorite.
I applaud anyone who has the ability to find the humor in an unfortunate situation, but Harry Jowsey is, objectively, the worst.