It would be an understatement to say that Too Hot to Handle star Francesca Farago was shocked at how fans have rallied around her.

In a recent interview with Variety, Frankie said,

“You kind of have nightmares about how you’re going to be portrayed… I wasn’t everyone’s favorite, so I thought that when the show came out that I was going to be the villain — I was prepared to be the Carole Baskin.”

Even more shocking to her was the fact that she hadn’t been slut-shamed by fans and rather, has been mostly embraced. She explained,

“I go through the comments on my [social media] posts because I like to respond and read the nice things, and maybe every hundredth [comment], there’s a bad one…it’s usually just about my physical appearance. It’s not usually slut-shaming, which is weird, because you’d think it would be, but it’s not.”

cast of too hot to handle

It makes sense that Francesca would be surprised by the response from fans. If there were ever a show dreamed up by slut-shamers, Netflix’s Too Hot To Handle would be it. The entire premise of the show is to take unsuspecting “serial swipers,” surround them with fellow beautiful singles, and then punish them for any sexual contact or acts (including masturbation!). And it’s all blanketed under the idea of trying to help these singles form deeper, long-lasting connections by barring them from their natural desires.

The idea of the show alone speaks to longstanding perceptions in society about the immorality of casual, consensual sexual encounters and how they fail to result in substantial romantic relationships. But what the producers behind the show didn’t expect was that the audience would be left with nuanced ideas of female empowerment and a better understanding of the importance of sexual intimacy in any stage of a relationship.

how old is francesca too hot to handle

From the start, producers primed Francesca AKA Frankie for the villain edit, and the cast seemed set on doing so as well. No one believes Frankie when she says Harry went in for the kiss on day one, which resulted in a $3K deduction to the prize fund, even though she was telling the truth. It was a case of he said, she said, and as is often the case, the majority sided with Harry’s “truth.”

Throughout the remainder of the show, we see Frankie go the furthest with two contestants, one of whom she ends up sleeping with. Lana, an Alexa-type device, informs fellow contestants when someone has broken the rules with an explicit account of what exactly went down, meant to humiliate the individual, and encourage fellow contestants to abide by the rules.

But Frankie clearly sees no issue with acting on or owning her sexuality. She stands by her decision to sleep with Harry as an important step in their relationship, refusing to feel any shame for breaking the so-called “rules” despite Lana scolding her publicly and subtracting $20K from the prize fund. Frankie also stands by her intimate interactions with other contestants as a necessary step for her to end up with Harry by the final episode.

 harry franscesca too hot to handle

According to the show, personal growth and the ability to develop a deeper connection can only be realized in the absence of acting on sexual desires. But Frankie and Harry’s relationship, the only one to survive beyond filming, proves this theory false. You can achieve personal growth and develop a deeper connection while remaining fully sex-positive and sexually active.

The conclusion and popularity of the show, and Frankie specifically, can be seen as reflective of our ongoing societal shift to eliminate the double standard between men and women when it comes to sex. It also speaks to a more complex understanding that women should be able to embrace their sexuality without merely becoming a sex object.

Too Hot To Handle attempted to shame the younger generation’s obsession with dating apps and one-night stands in order to fix them. Instead, a few contestants and the audience transformed it into a sex-positive narrative primarily centered around deconstructing toxic masculinity and embracing female empowerment and sexuality. Here’s to hoping somewhere Bachelor producers are taking notes.

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