I’ve had an alert about this on my phone for months. Season 5 of Love Island UK will premiere on June 3rd, but now it’s been confirmed that its North American spin-off will premiere on July 9th on CBS in the US and CTV in Canada. This is a big deal for several reasons that we’ll get into, but first an introduction to the cult of Love Island for those who aren’t familiar.
For the past four summers, I worked as a teaching assistant for a course in the UK (humble brag) and in the process, I was introduced to the world’s best show, Love Island. The premise is quite familiar: a bunch of beautiful men and women go to an island resort to find love. Unlike shows like The Bachelor(ette) or Flavor of Love, multiple couplings are not only possible, they are the point of the show.
“Islanders” first choose their partner based on first impressions but are later asked to recouple at various points in the show. To keep things interesting, new contestants are added to the mix, and the person who remains single at recouplings is kicked out. If that wasn’t intense enough, fans and contestants can sometimes vote couples off too. The couple that receives the most votes from the fans at the end of the season wins a cash prize (and potentially a chance at romance).
The producers also like to emulate The Hunger Games by manipulating the game as needed. Producers will often have newcomers go on dates with people in couples just to f-ck sh-t up. There are also various challenges that can involve physical teamwork or personal knowledge. In some cases, all you need is just a good understanding of length measurements. (Side Note: Whose brain did that challenge come out of and how can I meet them? If you aren’t intrigued by that video, by the way, then this show might not be for you.)
There’s obviously a lot of strategy involved, because while compatibility and true love are the purported themes of the show, it’s actually about alliances and partnering up with the right person, even if it’s for friendship or for coin. The real reason you watch though is for the drama, trash, and GOSSIP. Aside from working out, tanning, and drinking cocktails (G.T.C.), there isn’t much to do but talk about everyone else which is exactly why I LOVE THIS SHOW. I get super invested and take personal offence when someone is a dick to one of my favourites. The show has great social media game too, making following along even more addictive. It also airs EVERY weeknight, so you can’t help but be constantly surrounded by Love Island.
(That music riff at the end of the video will never leave your head.)
Love Island is a revival of an earlier show from 2005 called Celebrity Love Island. A big difference between the two is that contestants are no longer celebrities. Anyone can apply to become an Islander, to the benefit of the show. Unfortunately, this newfound fame has also resulted in two Islander alumni deaths this year, casting a dark shadow on the new season.
While there exist other adaptations of Love Island including an Australian and Swedish version, Love Island entering the North American market is a bit different. My friend, who is also obsessed with the show, raised concerns about the viability of a Love Island style show in the US. North America’s pretty good with trashy (an affectionate adjective) reality TV like the Jersey Shore or Keeping Up with the Kardashians. However, Love Island is a special variant of British Humour, one that walks the careful balance of being crass but, um, tasteful. I’m curious to see how this plays out in an American context with American contestants. For example, a Californian and a Midwesterner on an island together would be entertainment enough, but I’m wary of the show’s cultural translation across the Atlantic. It worked for The Office, so maybe it’ll work for Love Island?
We’ll have to wait and see how the show pans out, but Love Island has the potential of blowing up the summer schedule, and that is music to my ears.