Making sense of Netflix’s Too Hot To Handle is no small feat. The reality show, which dropped on the streaming platform on Friday, seems specifically engineered to create the most chaotic plot possible: Fourteen painfully single contestants plus one all-knowing AI robot, multiplied by a zero percent chance of hooking up equals endless strange scenarios. But for a show about not having sex, there’s sure a lot of sex, and only one person able to keep it all straight: Desiree Burch. The Los-Angeles hailing, England-based comedian is the voice of reason throughout all eight episodes of our new quarantine binge-watch, and she was just as shocked as you were with how everything went down.
While viewers may be meeting Burch for the first time as the narrator of Too Hot To Handle, she’s been a staple of British television for some time. She’s appeared on Live at the Apollo, Have I Got News for You, QI, The Russell Howard Hour, and Mock the Week, and is a stand-up comic in her own right.
And there’s no situation more ripe for comedy than Too Hot To Handle. Just like us, Burch was watching each episode of the show after the fact, without any insider access. Their bombshells, were her bombshells, were our bombshells, and throughout the season she judges the contestants’ poor behaviour without tearing them to shreds. Her tongue-in-cheek narration reflects what we’re all thinking as the most dramatic moments go down. By the end of the season, she’s practically part of the family. And the relationships.
Refinery29: When did you first watch the show?
Desiree Burch: “I was encountering it as a voiceover artist who came to it once it was roughly edited. The first episode, they did give me the rough cut the night before. I was just like, Okay, what is this world? Who are these people? What's going on? One time, the guy who was doing our sound had been out for a couple of weeks and he came back and he was like, ‘So what's happened?’ And I was like, ‘Whoa bro, you don't even know.’”
Was your commentary pre-written or was it spur of the moment as you watched?
“A mixture. There's some things that I'm like, Oh, I'm going to try to throw this in there and see if it amuses the producer. You've got to be sensitive to everyone's feelings. Does that [joke] play universally, or is that a joke that a British production team has written that I'm like, ‘Oh, I don't know if that's a phrase that we use [in the States]?’”
What did you think of the contestants?
“They really grow on you and you really care about them. I find myself being like, So do they make it? Are they still together? Did they fall apart immediately or did other people wind up dating?”
What is a moment that genuinely shocked you while you were watching it?
“Oh my God, when the whole thing with Francesca and Harry happens the first time and they rule break and then he lies to everybody right there. I literally just said, Oh you little liar. This is why women do not trust men.”
Were you rooting for anyone in particular?
“I'm glad to see what developed between Rhonda [Paul] and Sharron [Townsend] ‘cause Rhonda's dope and I was glad to see David [Birtwistle] made it out okay in the end. I felt bad for Kelz [Dyke] and Nicole [O’Brien] because I feel like they both got sidelined and friend-zoned at some point. They're both super adorable and charming people. I would say Kelz and Chloe [Veitch] to me are the funniest people.”
Have you had any thoughts about hosting a reunion?
“I would like to personally host the reunion very drunk and make them eat. I would love to see me and my air diffuser Lana together having a bit of a chat.”
Do you think the experiment worked?
“I feel like I did see an actual depth being displayed. I mean Bryce [Hirschberg] for instance, him just finally being like, ‘I sleep with all these girls on my boat cause I'm sad and I'm not connected to myself.’ To be able to be like, ‘I have these problems and I know where they come from’ is the kind of stuff that can take a lifetime to figure out.”
How would you do if you were on the retreat?
“On the surface of it, I'm like, I've gone way longer stretches. You're going to have to make this show a whole lot longer. Piece of cake. It's about putting in the right combination of guys. Cause here you have all tens, right? You put me in a group full of like six, sevens, and eights, suddenly I could really play this field a little more. I would probably be facing as much temptation as all of these other kids.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.