Single’s Inferno

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What it’s about:

Single’s Inferno is a Korean reality show with nine sexy singles trying to find love on a deserted island. If they’re lucky, they get to escape to “Paradise” – a different island with a luxury resort where couples get to know each other for one night before returning to the group. Premiering on Netflix on December 18th, the spicy show is already a trending topic.


Names you might know:

Actress Lee Da-hee, entrepreneur Hong Jin-kyung, Idol singer Cho Kyu-hyun and rapper Jung Hung-hae discuss and observe the contestants in the comfort of a studio setup. While the contestants’ occupations and ages are hidden from one another until they match up, many viewers recognized Kim Hyeon-joong, a successful Instagram model, Youtuber Song Ji-a and another Idol singer/actor Choi Si-hun.

Why it’s worth your time:

The holidays are over. Soon, New Year’s resolutions and work commitments will be filling up your time. Why not indulge in one more guilty pleasure before the start of 2022? Single’s Inferno checks all the boxes of addictive reality show fun: The cast is hot. The setting is beautiful and the drama is present – although more subtle than some reality show fans have come to expect.

This new Netflix dating show is part Love Island, part Survivor. During the first episode, cast members are shocked at the basic living conditions including minimal water, food, and very primal bathrooms. The heat and bugs instantly irritate some of the cast members as they’re dressed more for a Bachelor first impression rose than an episode of Survivor. All nine contestants have different backgrounds but the one common thread seems to be a love for working out as they often flaunt their ridiculously toned and athletic bodies.

While upon first glance, the setup feels familiar, there’s an unfiltered approach in Single’s Inferno that sets it apart from many reality show tropes. This can be a good or a bad thing depending on the viewer. Contestant Oh Jin-taek proudly states he’s “good looking and sexy” and “needs his partner to be sexy too.” Contestant Song Ji-a answers the standard “What are you looking for in a man?” question with “tall, attractive and rich.”

Admitting physical attraction matters to that degree may be viewed as shallow and taboo, with most reality show contestants often list sense of humor, intelligence, and other non-physical traits as things they look for in a mate. However, as the series unfolds there’s clearly more substance to most of the contestants than the first episode would have you believe.

The cast of Single’s Inferno is unbalanced with five men and four women. There’s bound to be drama when people are vying for the same person, but unlike its reality show counterparts, no one wants to be the reality show cliche of the villain looking for screen time. A truly refreshing deviation from reality show norms are the interactions between same sex contestants. The women and men seem to genuinely root for each other and form real bonds. In that way, it’s reminiscent of The Great British Bake Off, with pleasant people befriending one another instead of cheering for their competition’s downfall. (Of course, that’s easier to do with matters not concerning the heart.)

The panel of four celebrity hosts share their impressions of what’s unfolding in real time. With the wrong panel, this could be unnecessary, but luckily this group brings humor and empathy to Singles Inferno, often stating what the more reserved contestants don’t express out loud. (Yes, the sexy and perhaps shallow contestants are surprisingly reserved when it comes to interacting with one another!)

The takeaway:

Single’s Inferno is the perfect guilty pleasure to supplant your own dearth of a social life right now. Like most reality shows, viewers will find themselves connecting with specific contestants and perhaps caring more than they should about the final results.

Watch it with:

Your friends, family or alone.This isn’t high-brow viewing, but once you tune in, it’ll be hard to turn off.

Worth noting:

As mentioned earlier, the focus on physical appearance is a large factor in the first episode of Single’s Inferno. Those unfamiliar with traditional Korean culture and beauty standards may be surprised by skin tone discussions among cast members. The show has received backlash due to contestants complimenting a woman’s pale/light skin. Cultural differences aren’t very prevalent throughout the series, but it’s something to be aware of.

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