Why Too Hot to Handle is far superior to Love Island

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Love Island and Too Hot To Handle promo photos

THTH has stolen my heart (Picture: Rex/ITV/Netflix)

I know, I know, you’re asking how I can form an opinion on this whole series of Love Island when I’ve only seen two episodes. 

Surely it’s unfair when I’ve already seen four of Too Hot to Handle’s (THTH) latest season?

But I knew, as soon as I watched the lacklustre VTs and coupling up ceremony, that this year’s intake had nothing on the THTH stars.

Sure, the islanders all seem nice – I’m already a fan of Kaz and Liberty’s friendship, and Shannon is an absolute babe – but I don’t know, this season is already missing a little je ne sais quoi. 

I think without THTH, I’d be content with the Love Island lot. Perhaps I’d be intrigued about Chloe’s arrival, or how Jake’s head is beginning to turn so quickly after coupling up with Liberty. 

And although I will keep on watching (mainly for the Twitter commentary), it’s its Netflix rival that has stolen my heart.

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Love Island Series 7 first look as the new islanders enter the villa

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For those that haven’t tuned in before, the show invites a bunch of singles to a villa (sound familiar?) under the guise that they will be having the hedonistic summer of their dreams. 

While Love Islanders are looking for love, this bunch is looking for fun – only for an air freshener shaped ‘AI’ called Lana to tell them they can’t so much as kiss one another without losing a bunch of money. THTH is designed to test the residents and help them form deeper connections. 

Its stars come from across the world – this cohort includes people from the UK, USA, South Africa, New Zealand and France – and, like Love Island, it has a bit of an issue with diversity (although it seems more open to LGBT+ contestants). 

The first four episodes dropped on 23 June (fortunately tied into a period of self-isolating, which meant I could watch them all in one sitting) and the last six will be on Netflix today. 

I have honestly been on the edge of my seat waiting to see how the rest of the season goes down. It’s something I’ve felt before with Love Island – but not since series five (of Ovie, ‘chaldish’, ‘fanny flutters’ and ‘I was coming back here to tell you I love you’ fame).

I think Too Hot to Handle’s magic lies in perfect casting, the suspense of finding out whether anyone has copped off (or in Cam’s case, wanked), fun challenges and knowing that the contestants don’t have any idea about what they’ve signed up for (the moment they find out is *chef’s kiss*). 

Too Hot to Handle season 2

There is one absolute stand out contestant of this series guaranteed to keep things interesting: Melinda (Picture: Netflix)

Because of this latter element, it also feels a bit more human. These people are not there to find love, they admit they are not good at relationships, so watching them mess up, learn from their mistakes, and develop true feelings for one another is just really satisfying watching. 

Plus, there is one absolute stand out contestant of this series guaranteed to keep things interesting: Melinda. 

Melinda was initially drawn towards French model and basketball player, Marvin (look at him and tell me you wouldn’t be, too). 

They kissed – then he went off to flirt with Emily. In an act of revenge, Melinda went and made out with self-professed ladies’ man Peter. When Marvin found out, he got really jealous, had a bit of a tantrum, and cut Melissa off. 

She wasn’t having any of it so kicked Marvin out of her bed, replaced him with Peter (even though she didn’t really like him) and then BAM, took her top off to reveal her boobs to everyone in the bedroom. Peter started to stroke her, with Melinda later claiming he was just soothing her ‘mosquito bites’. 

It’s the kind of chaos I want from a reality TV dating show. It’s given her icon status in my mind – on the same level as Maura kicking Tom out of the hideaway after she caught him saying to the boys, ‘It will be interesting to see if she’s all mouth’. 

Too Hot To Handle season 2 official trailer

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And Melinda’s antics were just in the second episode! The most I’ve got from Love Island so far this year is Jake taking a creepy video of Toby sucking Kaz’s toes – and felt a bit orchestrated considering we knew from the offset he had a foot fetish. 

At this point, Love Island is really going to have to up the ante if it wants to claim victory in this battle. I wish it luck, especially as viewing figures for opening night were the lowest they’ve been in four years. 

I know the ITV favourite tends to pick up as it goes along, with the challenges, bombshells, re-couplings and Casa Amor making sure twists and turns do happen. 

But it doesn’t feel organic any more. Everyone in the villa knows what they’ve walked into and what career waits for them when they return to normal life. 

THTH, on the other hand, is also obviously filled with people looking for fame – but many of them are already prominent influencers. They don’t need this show to make their career in that field, they’re already there, giving them the freedom to showcase their personalities a bit more authentically. 

As much as part of watching Love Island is reading people’s takes on Twitter at the same time, isn’t it telling that the series is not really gripping enough to keep our focus all by itself? With THTH my eyes are fixed on that screen, and I have no clue what’s coming next. 

Perhaps when THTH is on its seventh season, it may struggle with the same problems. But, for now, it’s got me captivated in a way this year’s Love Island hasn’t. 

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