There are some very clear rules on Netflix's new reality show Too Hot To Handle. Absolutely no sex of any kind, and no kissing or sexual touching either. If the contestants break the rules and have sex anyway, they lose a hefty chunk of change as a punishment.
The premise of the series is for serial singletons to make deeper connections, and the show's decided that sex has gotten in the way of that. So sexual physical touch is banned in favour of talking and opening up your heart. For every transgression, money is deducted from the $100,000 grand prize. Contestants would only find out how much their actions had cost after they'd broken the rules.
Showrunner and Executive Producer Viki Kolar tells Refinery29 that they'd discussed having an actual jar of money sitting there to remind contestants what they were obeying the rules for, but ultimately they decided to focus less on the money until a rule break necessitated a reminder. "We didn't want to put money at the forefront of it, because actually the social experiment side was strongest to us," Kolar said.
Kissing costs $3000, sexual touching costs $6000, and sex is the priciest act of all. A misstep in that arena cost $20,000. However, there was a lot of touching that was not off limits. Throughout their stay, the contestants found loopholes where they could hug, give massages, rub noses, take no-contact showers together, lick chocolate off each other's fingers, and each take a bite of a strawberry from different ends kind of like Lady and the Tramp with the spaghetti. As long as the touching wasn't inherently super sexual, they got away with it.
Trust that the roles are broken quite a few times throughout the series' 8 episodes. But, when someone slips, no alarms ring. The producers let the couple finish their kiss or night together and then they get scolded later that night or the next day. That's when Lana — the show's Amazon Alexa-esque AI host — informs all the contestants at once which rules were broken and how much money had been lost. At first, Lana doesn't reveal who the rule-breakers were, but if contestants ask her a direct question about who broke the rules, she answers.
The contestants were filmed around the clock so there wouldn't be any unseen funny business, and Lana even caught a late night transgression from Harry and Francesca that they had sworn they had been quiet about. Nope, night vision cameras catch it all, folks. Have you ever seen Big Brother?
Getting intimate with someone you're dating can be a really great way to further bond in a relationship, but this show wanted to test the theory that sex can also be used by some as a roadblock to getting to know someone better. Removing that crutch can lead to a more meaningful relationship. That's Lana's theory, anyway. But it doesn't hurt that this show is airing during a time when many people aren't going out and having sex right now. Viewers will be able to uniquely relate to the contestants' struggle, and maybe even understand why they'd be willing to throw away $20,000 for a roll in the hay.