Too Hot To Handle’s Season 2 Winner Twist Totally Changed The Show

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Major spoilers are ahead. The season 2 finale of Netflix’s Too Hot to Handle ended with Lana, cone-shaped artificial intelligence star of the show, unveiling her final twist: only one contestant would leave the retreat with the cash prize. She announced Marvin Anthony, Carly Lawrence, and Cam Holmes as the three cast members in the running to win Too Hot To Handle season 2. And the one who took the prize certainly seems to have taken Lana's rules seriously... eventually.
The final episode sent all three candidates on dates with their partners, each of which highlighted why each of three were worthy of walking away with $55,000 (the remaining funds after multiple rules were broken). But, in another twist, the other contestants — not Lana — were tasked with voting to choose the winner. The group chose Anthony, the Parisian with a charming smile, for the perfect culmination to Too Hot to Handle’s sophomore season. The season 2 twists were small, but they made the final few episodes much more meaningful than the entire first season
The trio's final dates included flashbacks of moments of growth throughout season 2 and instead of simply relying on the footage to convince us that these supporters of hookup culture actually changed, Too Hot to Handle allowed each contestant to privately explain why either Anthony, Lawrence, or Holmes deserved the money. The four fellow cast members who voted for Anthony — Chase DeMoor, Elle Parham, and Anthony's girlfriend Melinda Melrose — all referenced his new outlook on relationships and vulnerability as their reasons for voting for him.
The first few episodes depicted Anthony as a playboy who failed to take his relationship with Melrose seriously and recklessly (and repeatedly) spent the group’s money. But the second half of the season unlocked a side of Anthony that led him to share how he watched his single mother struggle during his childhood because his father left. Being on the show helped Anthony realize the connection between his parents’ relationship and his fear of commitment. He put that doubt behind him and asked Melrose to be his girlfriend. By the end of the season, Too Hot to Handle did not have to persuade us into thinking Anthony grew from the experience. He proved it with his newfound vulnerability and his excitement over having a girlfriend — something he definitely wasn’t looking for in the season premiere. 
Anthony’s transformation arc on the show was largely due to the rule change that allowed only one contestant to leave the retreat with money. The knowledge that the money would not be split equally this season gave the contestants more incentives to follow the rules and understand Lana’s lessons. In season 1, Lana announced that all 10 of the remaining cast would share the prize pot equally: $7,500 each (and that’s before taxes, as narrator Desiree Burch noted). Last year’s cast realized their individual amount would be modest, so it wasn’t worth it for them to follow Lana’s rules. 
All the contestants took the experience more seriously once the cash prize twist was revealed. The onus was put on each individual, which led to more contestants, particularly the ones in relationships, to use the experience at the retreat to learn why they struggled in relationships. Doing do got them that much closer to a significant amount of money. While some contestants in season 1 lounged around and avoided making a connection because they were likely guaranteed some amount of money regardless, every finalist in season 2 (like Nathan Webb who tearfully spoke about his divorce) revealed touching stories about their background and fully embraced the experience. 

Netflix’s first season of Too Hot to Handle marketed itself as a reality series that tricked attractive singles into coming to a retreat where they would explore why they were hesitant to form emotional connections. Multiple contestants during season 1, like standout Chloe Veitch, said repeatedly in their in-the-moment interviews that the retreat was successful. But in season 2, we could see Anthony’s development and understand why Melrose refers to him as a “changed man” in the finale. Everyone praised the experiment as they celebrated Anthony leaving with $55,000, and they were right. The retreat actually worked. That, or people really wanted that $55,000.

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