Another season of sexy singles finding love on a deserted island has come and gone. It’s now become an annual event for Netflix’s Single’s Inferno to become a reliably buzzed-about series during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. And season three delivered the same not-so-guilty pleasure that can be so fun and frustrating at the same time.
In my First Impression Review, I had positive things to say about the seemingly refreshing start to this season. Little tweaks seemed to address things that made season two feel a bit more laborious to get through compared to the breakout first season. Did the series maintain that freshness through the rest of the eleven episodes? Not so much.
I must say though that one major thing has affected my watching of Single’s Inferno the most. And that is my watching and enjoying season two of fellow Korean reality dating program His Man. The way that series, though featuring gay singles unlike Single’s Inferno, was able to capture the sort of dreamy K-drama romance that only a Korean program could do had me looking for the same in this season. It was a feeling I got in season one. And arguably why I enjoyed it almost immediately back then. But that feeling dimmed in season two. Which is why the first three episodes this time around felt very refreshing.
Unfortunately, the rest of the season kind of drifted away from the proverbial shoreline of Inferno. And while some things helped to keep the season afloat, other things did their best to weigh it down once again.
First off, I wish the series kept the singles in rough conditions a bit longer. The first three episodes featured some telling moments in revealing the singles’ personalities by way of their response to the less-than-luxury living conditions. And now at the end, it’s interesting to look back and compare those personalities to the facades some singles seemed to put on when in Paradise or even the more hospitable living conditions post-merge.
That’s why I think putting the singles in different kinds of environments like that help them and us the viewer kind of feel each other out and get a sense of who they really are.
Speaking of, one of my criticisms from last season was the lack of opportunity for singles to actually get to know each other or even meet.
It’s telling when in the final two episodes, one of the women said they hadn’t even talked to one of the men at all during her time on Inferno. Not once. What? That’s definitely a problem.
That’s why I’d love to have seen the show actually force the singles to actually interact more. One of the ways is to not have Paradise every night (another criticism I had last year). Have all the singles on Inferno together a few nights during their stay on the island.
Mix and match the singles in games. And not just games to decide who goes to Paradise. Last year, I suggested games for special Inferno dates or lunch or activities like that. Singles may find they actually have zero interest in a person they are forced to interact with. Or it’s possible they might find something they had not seen before or put the effort into getting to know the person beyond superficial judgment.
Kudos though for not repeating the same challenges from the last two seasons. Sure, it was always hilarious seeing the men wrestling in mud and getting their egos hurt. But the games, though certainly less creative and simpler this time around, were alright.
But it’s those possibilities that could push the singles to actually consider more options. Have them be more conflicted. And yes, being conflicted between two or more options makes for better TV.
Let’s not get on our high horses here. These singles are just meeting each other for a couple of days. Of course some may experience love at first sight. That’s fine. But why keep the singles from realizing they might actually connect with someone else. Neither the show nor the singles nor even the netizens and viewers at home should fault someone from attempting to get to know someone else. Even if they have already expressed their potential interest in one person.
Having the singles actually do activities instead of simply hanging out at a hotel was also a welcome change. The Jeju location certainly added some refreshing twists to the format. Both with the more rugged terrain of Inferno and with the Paradise activities that were not limited to a hotel. Being able to feature unique Jeju Island backdrops helped to keep Paradise much less repetitive than last season. Though the frequency of being off Inferno was still too much.
Still, the lack of exploration of options will lead to the kind of finale we got here. Where the only tension and excitement came with Gwan Hee’s choice. And even then, it seemed quite obvious who he was choosing. Despite what our male hosts were saying contrary to the actually correct analysis by Hong Jin Kyung and Lee Da Hee.
And speaking of. The hosts! Like I said in my First Impression Review, it feels like they’re becoming less and less relevant to the series. Even if they’re on for a total of like 10-15 minutes an episode, it feels like much more than that. Especially when the show seems to cut to reaction shots from them every other minute. There’s really no need to cut back to them in the middle of a scene unless it is to react to something truly shocking on the island. Otherwise, keep their reactions to post-scene analysis. Let’s hear from them after every chunk of scenes to get their thoughts. There is really no need for play-by-play commentary like this was a football or basketball game. Even more especially when the singles this season actually spoke for themselves a lot more than previous seasons.
You could say that the hosts are actually here to just feed whatever storyline the show wants to present. But then most of their time their commentary or analysis is so off base it is laughable. It almost feels like they are just saying things just to say things. Which then means there’s no need to cut to them just to fill time. The episodes are usually long enough as it is.
Back to the singles themselves, we did get a wide range of personalities this time. Most of them were certainly a lot more open in expressing their thoughts and emotions, both to each other and in their confessionals. Something that wasn’t really happening last season. At the same time, many of the singles’ personalities were far from endearing. And by the end, I found myself wanting to fast forward through conversations between two people I could care less about.
All this together, it left no suspense for the final decisions. But then again, the format itself did its best to lead to that outcome as well.
And on to the final decision. In my Hindsight Review last season, I said the show needed to find another way to reveal their final picks. The walking across the island was tedious and quite forced. I can’t say what they did here was great, but considering the lack of potential surprises, it was probably the best way to do it. They likely went with this reveal format knowing there wouldn’t be any surprises or tension left to mine for content.
So ultimately, the journey was much more interesting than the destination. There was a lot more drama, a lot more emotion. But not really much excitement or surprises.
Heading into a season four, Single’s Inferno definitely needs to continue and keep itself fresh. My two main hopes are:
-Tweak the format more to allow singles to actually mingle and interact with each other.
-Minimize or greatly redefine the purpose of the in-studio hosts.
Otherwise, we will be in for more of the same. And the same as this season would be something that can be frustrating and fun, but far from memorable or impactful. We’ll see!