Why ‘Hot Ones’ Is On Fire This Season

As the web series burns through its fifth season, First We Feast’s Hot Ones on YouTube remains the only hot-wing-based celebrity interview show of its kind, and it’s as addictive as its first airing with rapper Tony Yayo. With episodes dropping every Thursday at 11 a.m. EST, this season brings the heat with even spicier sauces and the star power of celebrities like Charlize Theron, Shawn Mendes and Michael B. Jordan. With a 3.1 million subscriber fan base and counting, what makes this series so watchable for audiences around the world?

1. It makes the celebs sweat.

The show’s format is an interview over the course of 10 wings soaked in progressively hotter sauces, which forces the guests to drop their “publicity face” guard and act naturally. They truly are in the hot seat, and seeing their human reactions to painfully spicy food provides a completely different perspective on a celebrity than a carefully curated talk show. Where else could you see Charlize Theron fan herself and curse in Afrikaans as she barrels through the Da Bomb Beyond Insanity hot sauce round? The premise draws out its guests’ competitive sides and gives them a challenge rather than playing it safe. You get to watch DJ Khaled bring a personal chef to the studio and then chicken out after three bites. “If I stop, it doesn’t mean I gave up,” Khaled clarifies as he comes up for air. Interviewer Sean Evans isn’t buying it.

2. Sean Evans is a perfectly devilish host.

As his guests fight through the flames of the wings, Evans never fails to keep a cool composure and make the heat seem like it’s nothing. His contradictory chill demeanor plays to the drama of the show and lets the audience relax as they see their favorite stars flounder. He keeps the questions coming and doesn’t let his contestants dodge them no matter the circumstances. He’s equally essential to the entertainment value as the guests themselves, which is why the interviews come off as conversations between old friends rather than strangers meeting for the first time. His spinoff show, Sean In The Wild , is equally a blast and explores the diverse food world with surprise guest stars.

3. The hot sauces are not to be messed with.

There’s no better way to get into hot sauce culture than watching Hot Ones, and the show outdoes itself every season on the Scoville scale. Whereas the hottest sauce first season ranked a dangerous 357,000 Scoville units, this season’s hottest, the famed Last Dab, hits 2 million units of heat. With numbers that don’t lie and zany packaging on each bottle, the hot sauces truly are the star of the show and don’t disappoint in packing a punch.

4. The number of female contestants grows.

Though there have only been 12 female contestants in the 129 episodes so far, this season has demonstrated a concerted effort to bring more female guests to the show with great results. Fashion maven Alexa Chung dropped “My mouth is a spice prison” and other witty one-liners throughout her episode, while WWE champion Sasha Banks discussed her wrestling style and her relation to Snoop Dogg while barely breaking a sweat or dipping into the milk glass. It’s awesome to see the hot-sauce-frat-bro community opened up to women, and the ladies totally brought it.

Hot Ones is a journey to victory for guests and audiences alike and has a lot of fun with it along the way. You never know how guests will fare, but you can always count on memorable lines, fantastic blowups, and unexpected moments of clarity where you see a new side of some of the biggest names in pop culture.