Review: A Unique Take on Romance—‘Single’s Inferno’ Brings Heaven and Hell into the World of Love

Stranded on a deserted island and ready to mingle, the 12 single contestants of Netflix’s new reality show “Single’s Inferno” search for love to escape as couples to a magical paradise. Debuting on December 18, 2021, “Single’s Inferno” quickly gained popularity and became the first Korean reality show to reach Netflix’s Top 10 TV shows chart. According to the rules of the show, contestants may only escape the island, “Inferno,” to spend a romantic date night in a luxurious hotel called “Paradise” if the person they express feelings for reciprocates. The process of the contestants gradually developing genuine relationships, the show’s incorporation of humor, and the complex plotline make “Single’s Inferno” stand out among the numerous dating shows released in recent years. Caution: spoilers ahead.

From the beginning of the show, it was clear that there was chemistry between certain contestants; nothing felt overly staged or dramaticized for entertainment purposes. Despite the entire show being only nine days, a total of four couples exited the Inferno with their new romantic partners in the last episode. For some, the chemistry sparked into something greater throughout the show; others were not able to overcome the many obstacles of developing a relationship and failed to find a match. Moon Se-hun and Shin Ji-yeon, two contestants who ended as couples in the last episode, had many complications in their relationship throughout the show: although Moon Se-hun expressed his feelings for Shin Ji-yeon earlier on, she did not fully reciprocate his feelings until she discovered his gentle and sensitive personality during the last few days of the show. The two accompanied each other to Paradise for the last two nights and established a heartfelt connection as a couple by the end of the show. The gradual progression of the contestants’ relationships—from the awkward first dates to honest and deep conversations—made the show enjoyable to watch.

Another aspect that made “Single’s Inferno” unique and enjoyable was its special integration of comedy. A panel of four celebrities—Lee Da-Hee, Kyuhyun, Hong Jin-kyung, and Hanhae—who made humorous and relatable commentary as they watched the show’s progression alongside the audience. Whenever the contestants nominated the person they wanted to go to Paradise with, the panel would predict who each contestant chose, which encouraged the audience to predict with them. They would also make remarks whenever there was a conflict between contestants and tried to understand the perspective of the contestants. With the panel, it was easier to follow the plotline of the show and the dynamics between the contestants compared to other dating reality shows.

With dynamics of relationships fluctuating on a day-to-day basis, the complex plotline of “Single’s Inferno” made the audience eager for each next episode. The show initially started with nine contestants—five men and four women—but in episode five, three new contestants stepped in to threaten the many budding relationships: Cha Hyun-seung, Kim Su-min, and Seong Min-ji. For example, two of the original contestants Song Ji-a and Kim Hyeon-jung seemed ready to solidify their relationship until Cha Hyeon-seung distracted their relationship by expressing his interest in Song Ji-a. Although Song Ji-a remained loyal to Kim Hyeon-jung in the last episode, watching her heart almost get stolen by the new contestant startled many viewers. Moreover, the show would constantly introduce changes to game rules throughout the show to stimulate drama in more of an indirect way: every once in a while, the men or the women would have to play a game with each other to win an entrance ticket to Paradise. Just the top three players could pick a partner to go to Paradise with; the remaining people did not get to go at all. The games started from something as simple as a race and became more violent games such as wrestling in a mud pool. Not only was it nerve-racking watching the contestants fight for a ticket to Paradise with their love interest, but it also provided a more diverse group of people to visit Paradise each time, building the foundation for more connections and betrayals.

Topping South Korea, Vietnam, and Singapore’s charts, “Single’s Inferno” receives a solid 4/5. Although there are many dating reality shows released in the film industry nowadays such as “Too Hot to Handle” and “Love Island,” “Single’s Inferno”’s exciting plotline, its unique occasional humor, and the genuine relationships formed among the contestants make the show a worthwhile watch.