It’s been two years since Terrace House abruptly left our small screens with an unintended and tragic ending. As an avid reality TV fan, it left a gap in my heart (and binge-ing schedule) for a light watch. There were fillers such as Bling Empire and House of Ho, but none of them imbibed the stillness and subtle drama I loved about Terrace House.
I’ve recently discovered that Netflix is on a worldwide trajectory to gain even more subscribers and they’re doing this through Korean content to sate their army of fans. Thus, Hellbound and Squid Game were released. With the apparent need for Asian reality TV programs since Terrace House’s departure and the success of their recent Korean ventures, it made sense to combine these winning factors together to reach Netflix’s goal of increasing subscribers.
I'd like to think all this resulted to Single's Inferno, the much discussed Korean reality TV show that many of us devoured as soon as all the episodes were released. The show’s premise centers around a group of Korean singles who are left on an island for nine days. This group of attractive participants must build a connection with someone in order to escape the island dubbed Inferno, and spend a night together in a luxury resort called Paradise. It came off to a slow start but when it picked up, viewers like me were left wanting more from the eight-episode series. The show is oftentimes compared to other reality programs, so I broke down their main differences:
Single's Inferno v.s. Too Hot to Handle
Hot singles? Check. Deserted island? Got it. Dates as rewards? Yes. Perhaps one of the more captivating reality shows in recent years was the Too Hot to Handle series, which is now on its third season. The two shows are comparable in terms of putting their contestants in secluded islands where there is ‘hell’ and a form of paradise. (In Too Hot to Handle, couples who end up forming a connection also get to escape to a private suite).
There’s also the premise of forming a deeper connection in a certain amount of days. But whereas Too Hot focuses on correcting sexual promiscuity, Single's merely puts eligible participants together to see if there are any sparks. And, of course, the only time we see any spicy physical connection between the couples was when So Yeon and Jin Taek exchanged massages. Despite that, the emotions were definitely higher up there than when anyone in any episode of Too Hot would break the rules. FYI, if any of the contestants in the latter engage in intimate physical activity, their collective prize money by the end of the show gets cut down a peg.
If you want all-out laughs and irreverent content, I'd suggest you start with Too Hot to Handle, but if you’re looking for a spicy yet wholesome show you can binge after a long day of work, Single's is your answer.
Single's Inferno v.s. Love Island
Another dating show that’s easily comparable to Single's is the UK franchise Love Island. The two shows are a little closer in comparison as it’s mandatory for the participants to “couple up” together. Both shows had a moderator and activities that they had to take part in. But what I found lacking in Single's was the added opportunity for participants to bond or get to know each other, apart from the occasional (and very physical) games and the trips to Paradise. This also left less screentime for participants who didn’t get to go to Paradise.
And if Love Island ran for too long with sometimes 30+ episodes, Single's was far too short and condensed for any significant connection to possibly form and last well after the show ends.
Single's Inferno v.s. Terrace House
Finally, Single's Inferno gave this viewer throwbacks to Terrace House for the contestants’ calm demeanor and the ability to produce the same heart-melting feelings without so much as a peck on the cheek. It was interesting to see how Koreans would fare in front of the camera and we saw many of them look inward and come with their own personal breakthroughs sans the program’s intervention, much like what we’d seen in Terrace House. While the panel of commentators wasn’t as well put together as that on Terrace House, this is forgivable after TH was accused of painting participants in a negative light. As for Single's, viewers witnessed cast members like Shin Ji Yeon, Choi Si Hun, and Kang So Yeon grow as individuals in just a short period.
If it weren’t for the language difference, watching both shows was akin to watching TV while you worked, but you’d glance over every five minutes just to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
Ultimately, Single's Inferno is a must-watch reality series with light thrills that I would gladly recommend to those who enjoyed any of the three other shows mentioned above. Does it deserve the hype it’s receiving from the media now? It does. While, in my opinion, it doesn't live on the same level as Terrace House, it definitely has the potential to become an even greater watch. If it were renewed, I, for one, can’t wait for what the showrunners will have in store for us in season two.
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