Preface: I AM SO IN LOVE WITH CASHEL! Like for real. I would do anything for him. With him. To him.
An actual footage of me watching the show:
When I was thought about what I wanted to write for the Love Island CBS premiere, I thought that any comparison between the show and its British counterpart would be an obvious take. But it’s an inevitable comparison. From the get-go, it’s jarring not to hear British accents or see Caroline Flack stroll into the villa. It’s weird to hear a Texan accent or to hear people say, “I’m attracted to” instead of “I fancy.”
Apparently, I’m not the only one either.
It’s important to remember that the CBS version comes with a lot of pressure. While other spin-offs exist (did you know there’s a Love Island Australia?), breaking into the American market is a different game entirely. On top of that, the two shows air simultaneously and are competing for attention from fans. THR reported yesterday that “according to [David] Eilenberg, Love Island USA will be nearly identical [to Love Island UK], save for the accents.” That’s an interesting choice. Not necessarily bad, but one that invites direct comparisons between the two shows.
Keeping that in mind, last night’s premiere wasn’t as strong of a first episode as I was hoping. I remember watching the first Love Island UK episode when it aired back in 2015, knowing nothing about the show. While there were some flaws, the pilot was engaging and intriguing enough to draw me in for more episodes. The CBS version didn’t entirely work but the show has a lot of potential, and the personalities are there, like Caro, Cashel, and Alana, but a few adjustments need to be made – and it’ll be so interesting to see them do this in real time, which has always been Love Island’s signature.
Side Note: OMG ALANA. The moment she appeared, she breathed some life back into the show, and every time she’s on camera, I live. Someone get her a show and a book deal ASAP.
Iain Stirling is the narrator for the UK version and he’s one of the show’s major assets. Matthew Hoffman is the narrator for the North American version. I didn’t recognize the name when I first saw it, but he’s interviewed celebs on Sit Down With The Stars for Regal Cinemas and he’s hosted on ABC with the Greatest Interview Ever With Matthew Hoffman. If you watch his interviews, he actually has a lot more personality and humour on screen than he does as narrator, at least so far. Right now there’s a noticeable lack of cheekiness and plot directing humour that fans are used to.
Then there’s the editing. I saw a few odd cuts here and there where people’s words were cut off or where the shot didn’t really make much sense. But on top of that, the conversations are cut too short, taking away from the drama and gossiping that occurs between the contestants. That’s like 90% of the show’s appeal! Are Americans not as good at banter (pronounced: ban’ah)? We don’t even have a word for it.
Another reason might be because the producers have focused on a single storyline. It’s still early days but when you have the Maura, Curtis, and Amy love triangle across the pond, the drama needs to be amped up to 11 to make us pay attention.
That said, the show really hit its stride towards the end, building suspense around Kyra’s decision, faking us out with a commercial break, and then hitting us with that “next time on Love Island.” That was genius and that’s the kind of reality TV show shenanigans that I want. Let’s hope that today’s episode brings more of that.