If you’re like us and millions of other viewers at home, you love seeing pretty people put themselves in emotionally vulnerable and publicly humiliating situations, trying to find that one thing that we’re all looking for: Instagram followers. Oops. Sorry. We meant love.
But dating shows these days are more annoying to watch than enjoyable. The Bachelor is a forgotten relic. Love Is Blind seems to only feature the more boring people you’ve ever seen. And Love Island is populated with a bunch of interchangeable influencers who are more interested in doing push-ups than anything else. Really, those shows don’t even hold a flaming fire pit up to the best dating show on television right now: Single’s Inferno.
Sure, there’s a gimmick. Every great dating show has one. But in Single’s Inferno—the latest reality dating series to come from Netflix’s push for more Korean-language content—said gimmick doesn’t detract from the relationships people form between each other. Here’s how it works: We meet five single women and five single men, who all live on an island for eight days with no electricity, Internet, or distractions. The only way off the island is for them to pair up (you know, romantically)—which allows them to spend a night in “Paradise,” AKA a luxury hotel. Oh, and did we mention that the contestants aren’t allowed to reveal their age or profession until they get to paradise with each other?
Trust us: Single’s Inferno hiding this information makes for really fascinating connections. Feelings are strong. Temperatures are high. The hotties are on a clock to find a match—and they don’t hold back. Below, Esquire’s two Single’s Inferno superfans discuss just what they love so much about the series following its shocking Season Two finale.
Josh Rosenberg: All right, Sirena. Let’s contain our Single’s Inferno fandom for a hot second to explain to the people why this is our favorite new show on television.
Sirena He: For starters, I love that this show releases during the holiday season, because it gives me uninterrupted time to binge it. I stumbled across Single‘s Inferno on Netflix last year and was immediately drawn in by the hot people in the promo. But once I started watching, I realized it was special, considering the way they set up the contestants in such a remote location with the only focus being to form connections. You get invested quickly. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re on a really beautiful scenic beach the whole time.
JR: It feels crazy that I race to watch the new Single’s Inferno episode every week before doing anything else. Are you the same way?
SH: Totally. They’re only on the island together for eight days, so people make the most of the short time. They only have so many chances to bond and/or flirt with the person they like. You can feel the tension when people are competing for attention and time. Take the contestant Seul-Ki, in Season Two. There were three men interested in her! Dudes were literally wrestling in a mud pit at one point just to win one-on-one time with her. I love every minute of the drama.
JR: 100%. The grueling physical challenges, the long walks for water, the way they have to cook all of their own meals—it breeds natural connections, because they’re struggling together. Many of the contestants act like they’ve never even been camping a day in their lives. Maybe they haven’t! When someone shows off their vegetable-cutting skills or helps to start a fire, it feels like the romantic sparks are jumping out of the TV.
SH: Ugh, yes. I feel like putting them on an island with the prize being going away together in a nice hotel with the person you like really amps up the feelings. They have no distraction—and the only focus is to make sure the person you like chooses you. And they keep their feelings so close to the heart! You don’t know exactly how people feel about each other. You fixate on the small moments between them—touching fingers, or a guy giving a girl his jacket when she’s cold. I didn’t know potato-cutting could be so thrilling! Those tiny moments become important when you’re rooting for your favorite couples to get together. It really feels different from hookup-focused, or intense-commitment-focused shows like Love Island or Love is Blind.
JR: Don’t even get me started on Too Hot to Handle. Why teach these hot, horny idiots to think about actually making a connection if the point is just to watch them continually break the rules? Single’s Inferno is the one show where contestants are actually using their short time together to fight for love. Some people even pour their hearts and souls into one person—even if their feelings are never reciprocated. Plus, since no one is ever eliminated from the island, the heartbreak just lingers. You could end up going the entire season without a connection, even if you try you hardest. I’ve never felt more sorry for a reality TV contestant than Season Two’s Park Se-jeong. And I don’t mean that in a bad way! It just goes to show that no one is faking a relationship just to stick around, like they do on Love Island. Time on the island is precious. They really use every last ounce of it to learn about each other—even as awkward as that may be to do on camera.
SH: So true. It’s what makes the show so special. When you remove over-the-top stakes like engagement or marriage at the end of the show, all you have in the end is a bunch of brave, hot people who want to find someone who likes them back. That makes the emotional stakes the most important thing. I even teared up at the end of Season Two! I hope we get even more intense competition next year. Maybe even a slightly longer stay on the island. I know it might border on cruel to abandon these sexy people without electricity or Internet for more than a week, but I’d love to see how much more intense feelings can grow when they’re stuck there for two weeks or more.
JR: Hell yeah—bring on the heat. Consider me ready for Season Three.
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