From the very first episode, Netflix’s newest reality dating show, Too Hot to Handle positions Canadian Instagram model Francesca Farago as its villain. With the latest of its endlessly bingable reality TV, Netflix challenges its cast of single models to refrain from any physical interaction for the entirety of their month-long retreat. Their shared cash prize fund depletes with every breach of the rules. And it’s Farago who has the most disregard for this one guideline (and takes the most heat from her fellow castmates for it).
We talked to Frankie while she was quarantined at home in Vancouver shortly before the premiere of Too Hot to Handle on Netflix, when even she hadn’t seen the show other than the trailer. She discusses the drama with Harry at the beginning of the retreat, if she has any regrets about her rule breaking, and how she feels about her parents watching the show.
Having not seen the show yet, are you nervous at all about how things might be portrayed or you might come off?
I mean, of course I am a little bit nervous because I did put myself out there and I made some mistakes. I wasn’t really thinking about consequences when I was in the retreat, I was just doing whatever I wanted. I know there’s some things that I did that I’m probably gonna look back and cringe, but I’m glad I did everything that I did, and everything worked out in the end, so I don’t regret any of the decisions that I made.
How do you feel about your family and friends watching?
I spoke with my dad and I was like, let me watch it first and then I’ll let you know which scenes to avoid, because I saw the trailer, so I know there are some scenes that he might not wanna watch. But my family and my friends have been very supportive. They know how I am as a human, so I think if they watch something and see me do something that’s kind of out of character, they’ll just be like, why’d you do that? And I’ll be like, you know, when you’re in the moment, it’s hard to think there’s gonna be a bunch of people watching this. You don’t really think about that. But my friends and family, they’re very, very supportive and they’re excited to see. I’m just gonna have to pre-warn my mom and my dad specifically on which scenes to skip through.
So you’re gonna give them timestamps where they have to fast forward?
Exactly. My sister’s gonna be with them, so I’m just gonna say, okay, episode three, 45 minutes in just skip to 49 minutes and don’t let them see. There’s only like a few things that I wouldn’t really want them to watch. I mean, there’s a few things that I don’t want anyone to watch, you know? But that’s just the way that it works, and I put myself in that situation, so I’m prepared.
How did you come to be on the show and what did you know about it going into the process?
I was actually reached out to via Instagram DM by one of the producers. I get messages like this all the time but the way that she was explaining it, it seemed kind of legit, so I hopped on a Skype call with her. All I knew is that I needed to be single, that it was going to be somewhere tropical with a bunch of other single people, and that it was gonna be an experience. I wasn’t sure if it was a dating show, or more like Survivor, or more like Love Island, but I was open to an experience. When we landed for filming we found out that it was going to be more along the lines of a dating show, and I was super excited for that. But the first few days in the villa, we still had no idea really why we were there. And then when the bomb dropped that it was like a self-discovery growth experience, it was kind of a shock.
Did the 24/7 cameras bother you? I know you said you weren’t thinking about people watching, but there were cameras on you even when you were sleeping.
Yeah. The first week or so, it was a little bit hard to adjust. You would just be nervous, more conscious of what you said and how you were acting with people. But after the first few days, you forget they’re there ‘cause you’re very submerged in the experience. I was just going for it and being myself and doing whatever I wanted to do, so maybe it would have benefited me being a little more conscious, since I have to watch this over in the future. But at the time when you’re in the environment, and when you’re surrounded with these people, you don’t have technology, you don’t have access to the outside world, you submerge yourself. I mean that’s what I did, I was just in it to win it and cameras didn’t bother me.
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What did you guys do all day when you weren’t doing the workshops?
We were woken up at the same time every day, and we would eat breakfast first thing. We had chefs that cooked for us, and then we would get a lowdown from production if there was gonna be a workshop that day or not. So if there wasn’t, some of us would work out, and then hang out by the pool, talk to people, kind of figure out where everyone’s head was at, if there was money lost, if someone was having to leave, where your relationships were at with people. We had a football, we just kind of had to find ways to entertain ourselves and get to know each other. But there was honestly never a dull moment.
How did you and Haley come to be friends and was it sad when she left?
I think Haley came off strong. She didn’t necessarily want to make friends. I don’t think I got the vibe from her that she was interested in getting to know any of the other cast. So, her and I really connected when Harry and I had a falling out, and I leaned on her. We had a mutual understanding of like, let’s just cause some trouble, let’s have fun with this. She was my partner in crime. We would work out together in the mornings, gossip to each other, and plot ways to piss everyone off. We were just having fun with it, so when she left, it was really hard. I was extremely sad, but it did kind of allow me to form stronger relationships with other people in the house.
In terms of the rules, do you think that being prevented from having sexual contact really does intensify an emotional connection?
Definitely. I think that not being able to get physical with someone makes your connection with them stronger because you have to find other ways to show affection. Generally, I’m a very affectionate person. I like to touch the person I’m with and I like to be touched. That’s one of my love languages, I guess you would say, physical affirmation. So the fact that we weren’t allowed that was a real shock for me but, even though I did break the rules and have some physical contact, I was still able to form such strong bonds with people. I don’t know if it would necessarily have been that strong if it was more of just a physical thing. So we were able to get to know each other on such an emotional level, and we got to know ourselves as well, so I guess that whole experience just really makes you reevaluate the way you form relationships.
To get into Harry, from my perspective, it seemed like he threw you under the bus after the first time you guys broke the rules, and as a result the whole group turned on you as the bad guy. In my eyes, you had to take a disproportionate amount of heat for that mutual decision. Is that how it felt on your end?
Hundred percent. Yeah, Harry is very lovable and his laugh is infectious and he’s so cute and so easy to get along with that, it was easy for people to blame me and like just brush me off as the bad guy, because I’m not that lovable big Australian guy with a massive smile on his face 24/7. So I did get the brunt of the heat for every decision that I made, even though there were other people involved in those decisions. It was hard to deal with at the time. I remember being in the house and everyone was like, she’s a snake, she’s a master manipulator. But I was like, No! It takes two to tango, you know what I mean? When Harry threw me under the bus, I got all the shit for it and I was so mad about it, and I ended up forming a connection with a different person in the house.
Did Harry ever apologize to you? It seemed like you guys just moved forward, but I felt like you didn’t get the apology you deserved.
I did not get the apology I deserved but now knowing Harry, he is younger than me and he handles situations still to this day differently than I do. So when he reacts a certain way, I don’t take it personally, I kind of just realize he’s acting a certain way because that’s how he handles situations. Sometimes I don’t even need an apology because I just understand the way he works to the degree where I’m like, alright, this is just you being you. But no, to answer your question, I didn’t get an apology, I didn’t feel like I needed one because I know how Harry is and I know he’s just a little bit immature. I realize that maybe my revenge—going for Kelz—was me getting back at him, so we evened the playing field.
Did you regret spending any of the pot of money?
I don’t regret anything because every decision I made led to the end result, which for me was the best possible. There were a few moments that I could have held off, but in the case of Haley, I definitely do not regret that, that was funny. It was a great moment for us. Maybe one kiss with Harry and like one other…little mess up could have not happened? But in the moment it’s hard to think like that. It’s hard to think of the future when you’re living in the moment and you just want to go for it.
Was it hard to have the other cast members angry at you for doing those things?
That was one of the hardest parts of living in that house, because no one wants to be exiled from the group. It’s the worst feeling and I was doing it to myself because I was acting in a certain way, but I was kind of exiled almost from day one because of things that were out of my control. So, it was hard to form relationships with people and I wasn’t necessarily trying as hard as I could have to rectify situations with people. But I had Harry by my side and when I had Haley that really helped, so I kind of had to just focus on myself, and if people didn’t like me I just had to go with it. But it was extremely difficult. No one doesn’t want to be the one who people don’t like. Everyone wants to be liked.
Do you think that the whole process, the workshops and the feel good stuff, was that helpful for your personal growth or your relationship? I know for some people, it was clear they felt it was stupid. Did it feel authentic for you?
Without the workshops, I don’t think I would’ve developed as much as I did in the house. All of them made you have a lot of self realization, a lot of self reflection. They definitely allowed me to open up to the other people, realize a lot about myself, a lot about my character, a lot about the way I was treating other people in the house, which I didn’t really realize before. I was just being selfish and focusing on my connections and I was breaking the rules when I wanted to, but I realized that we were there to grow and my actions had consequences and there were other people’s emotions involved and I needed to consider not only myself, but everyone else’s emotions as well. So without the workshops, it definitely wouldn’t have ended the same way that it did, because we wouldn’t have been able to develop in the way that we did and learn about ourselves. So they definitely touched all of us.
Are you still friends with any of the other contestants?
There’s a few members of the cast that I don’t speak to anymore, but I actually got closer after filming with Chloe and Nicole. Me and Haley are still close, too. We all remain generally friends, none of us don’t get along, we’re all in a group chat. We went through this crazy experience together that no one, unless they went through it, is gonna be able to understand, so we’re definitely all connected in life after this.
Can we expect a reunion episode?
I don’t know because of quarantine. If there was no quarantine, I would personally have thought there would be one. But with quarantine, I don’t know if that’s gonna happen.