Too Hot to Handle: How Seinfeld and Dick Pics Inspired Netflix’s Wildest Dating Show Yet | #tinder | #pof

In the classic Seinfeld episode “The Contest,” George, Elaine, Jerry, and Kramer make a bet to see who can last the longest without masturbating. They wager a cash prize and set out confidently enough—but, as the hours pass, the competitors start to wilt, triggered by all the sexual opportunities that suddenly surround them. It’s a hilarious, absurd half hour of television, often considered one of the best episodes in the sitcom’s history. But when Laura Gibson, the creative director and show developer of production company Talkback, watched it, she saw a golden opportunity.

“I remember thinking, There is a TV show in this!” she said in a recent phone interview with Vanity Fair. That idea eventually became Too Hot to Handle, an upcoming Netflix dating competition show in which 10 young, single contestants are brought to a beautiful villa to date and find love. The catch? They can’t hook up. That means no kissing, no sex, and definitely no self-gratification, as the show delicately puts it. There’s also a cash prize of $100,000, and every time a contestant breaks the rules—which they do, again and again—money is scooped out of the final sum.

While Seinfeld was the catalyst, Gibson was also inspired by the brutality of dating-app culture. “It seems like people get their dicks out within two messages on Tinder,” she said. “I was like, Surely love doesn’t have to start with a dick pic.”

The end product, which will debut this Friday, is a densely packed eight-episode series that feels (and looks) a lot like Love Island, but is more ardently incentivized. There’s also a strong Big Brother element, as contestants are “watched” by an Alexa-like machine called Lana, who alerts the entire villa when a contestant has stepped out of bounds.

“The A.I. element helped a lot,” says producer Louise Peet. “[The contestants] bought into it so much…the all-seeing eye.”

Still, how did the producers make sure the contestants weren’t, you know, secretly self-gratifying, or breaking the rules in other ways? “That was the thing that kept us awake at night,” Peet said. “How are we gonna really be sure they’re not gratifying themselves?”

The solution was to put six cameras in the main bedroom where all the contestants sleep, in addition to planting numerous cameras all over the house, surveilling the players 24 hours a day. “If we were suspicious, sometimes we would look back at the tape and listen in,” Peet noted. “Some poor transcribers on the team would have to deduce if a noise was maybe a toilet visit.”

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