TYPE OF REVIEW : HINDSIGHT REVIEW
No spoilers. For First Impression Review of this season, click here.
The second season of Netflix’s Single’s Inferno (솔로지옥 시즌2) might have redeemed itself a bit at the end. But if there’s more to come on the island of Inferno, there’s no doubt the show will need some tweaking to keep the format as engaging as it can be.
I wrote my First Impression Review of this season after catching up with the first six episodes. I noted how it was still a fun, juicy ride like the inaugural season last year. But that “some interesting cracks in the glossy façade of the series” started popping up.
I think my biggest criticism of this season is how the middle section was edited in a way that focused the show on only a select few and ignored everyone else. It was like a K-drama-gone-bad where you know who the main couple is and how everyone else on the cast is just fodder. And it wasn’t for lack of content. Netflix has been posting deleted scenes from the show on YouTube which have been infinitely more interesting than what made the episodes.
That dynamic, partly on casting and mostly on the show’s editing, made for some boring episodes in the middle of the season. The format felt tired and worn out somehow.
Also contributing to that was the show’s seemingly increased focus on Paradise. The first season feels so long ago, so I won’t remember too clearly. But it seemed as though this season was so overly focused on Paradise that it took away from the audience getting to know the singles. But more importantly, took away opportunities for the singles to get to know each other.
I think a lot can be said when many of the best moments in the final episodes were that of the singles in platonic friendships. Which is great. Not everything has to be related to romance. But the show didn’t give the audience a lot of those friendship moments. And because the romantic situations between certain singles came across as tiresome, the random small talk between simple friends felt more interesting and more authentic.
The final episode certainly delivered a welcome ending. But that doesn’t erase the fact that the format will need some sprucing up if the series were to return for another season.
The focus on Paradise is what I think hindered the season the most. One of the things I don’t understand is whether or not the singles even have opportunities to talk to each other on Inferno. At one point, it felt like they aren’t even allowed to interact unless the disembodied voice tells them to or when they have to cook dinner.
Of course, the show isn’t able to show everything. Or even capture everything to begin with. This isn’t Big Brother or Love Island with cameras set up everywhere. But the singles actually need time to meet and get to know each other. Paradise should not be the only place where they have the opportunity to do that.
One suggestion I have is to make trips to Paradise only every other night. This season’s editing made Paradise take over most of the episodes. And when the singles themselves are even exhausted of going to Paradise, then us the audience will feel tired as well.
Give the singles more opportunities to interact on Inferno. Encourage them to talk more with each other. Whether it’s singles sneaking off for private convos. Or having groups hanging out by the water or working out or playing games.
The few moments we got of teams doing things like that merely felt like filler or even buffers between more scenes from Paradise. In fact, a conspiracy theory popped up on TikTok that there was a secret man who got kicked off the show. But the scene being used to support that theory was just a scene used to fill time in an episode and required editing out one of the singles who had gone to Paradise in order to maintain continuity.
So make Paradise feel truly special by not having the singles going every night and spending more time at the resort rather than on the island. Truly turn Paradise into a reward rather than a mandatory field trip.
To help that, I’d suggest mixing up the challenges. Like season one, the challenges alternated between all-girls and all-boys for a chance at Paradise. How about instead, create more challenges for special treats on Inferno. In addition to the special café-style dates they’ve gotten, why not add more variety to the one-on-one Inferno dates. Add some special activities. Do double dates. Just anything beyond what could similarly be accomplished by a simple trip to the island cafeteria.
And to help twist things up, don’t separate the sexes for the challenges. Come up with gender-neutral challenges that allow all the singles to compete at the same time. Survivor can do it. Why not Single’s Inferno? Maybe have the men and women have to compete in random pairs too. That would throw in some potential drama as well as encourage the singles to interact with each other.
Who knows? Being forced to work together in competition could result in sparks flying between unexpected singles. And again, that could bring about more drama. And a show like Single’s Inferno exists partly to give us that juicy reality show drama.
Other rewards or even just random twists to their time on Inferno could include teasing the singles with information about each other’s identity. Vaguely reveal random ages and careers, but don’t necessarily match them with a single just yet. Keep the singles guessing. And with this info in mind, the singles might be more encouraged to pursue someone they might not have been interested in before. Now that they think someone is their same age or of a profession they think is attractive or appealing.
Things like that. There’s a lot of things to do to keep Single’s Inferno interesting, fun and refreshing.
With casting, the show will obviously not know who will be attracted to each other. But it really felt like this season, they followed a template of characters based on the cast of season one. Next time, the show needs to cast a better mix of people. Have a variety of personalities that could result in mixing and matching throughout the season instead of lopsided endings and a “I’ll settle for you” feeling in the end.
Overall, season two of Single’s Inferno was still fun and enjoyable. Many slow parts. And a lot of recycling from season one, both in cast and content. But it is definitely hard to look away from the series. Even with its obvious flaws.
As Korean television and streaming is filled with more interesting and creative reality dating shows, Single’s Inferno, arguably the series that launched this wave, must keep up. And if there will be future seasons, some simple tweaks and fixes will be able to keep the show being a fun and exciting not-so-guilty pleasure.