British Invasion: Love Island

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By Paola Bakker
Web Content Contributor

If you have been on social media recently, you may have heard of a small show called “Love Island (UK)” – a show that draws millions of viewers a night, airing six times a week on ITV. The premise of the show is simple – take a group of single young people, referred to as “Islanders,” keep them in a luxurious Spanish villa and record their antics 24/7. In order to make it to the end and win the 50,000 pound prize, Islanders must couple up with another person, as well as survive the public vote.

The show has been such a hit in the United Kingdom that it has made its way over the Atlantic, with both the British version becoming popular and available to stream on Hulu and with an American remake. “Love Island” is already making an impact in American pop culture, such as by making an appearance in HBO’s “Euphoria,” which becomes Zendaya’s character’s choice of show during her depressive episode. Influencers have also taken a liking to the show, shown in popular YouTuber Cody Ko’s video, “In Defense of Love Island,” in which he makes arguments against the main criticisms of the show.

With so many reality dating shows on American television, such as “Are You The One?”, “The Bachelor”, “Bachelor in Paradise” and so on, “Love Island” is a show completely unlike the others in the genre. Viewers get to watch relationships rise and fall in real time, have a say in who stays and goes through the public vote and see nearly every moment of the competitors’ days.

The show acts as a breath of fresh air to the American viewers attempting to understand the British banter of the show. They are tired of the fairytale idealism that the contestants of “The Bachelor” preach, which feels scripted and manipulated by producers. “Love Island” goes through every real and raw emotion of the Islanders, showing the viewers how every dramatic event unfolds and documenting every step of the way.

A lot of the drama in these typical reality shows becomes intense so quickly and makes viewers ask, “How did this argument escalate so fast?” It feels artificial and makes them wonder how much of it was manipulated by producers. For “Love Island,” however, every minute of it feels real. The viewers watch how quiet whispers and rumors about another Islander can quickly spread around the villa, ultimately leading to an explosion of built-up frustrations among contestants.

Sofia Hernandez, a graphic design student, talked about her love for the show and said, “It’s more straightforward than other dating shows, and it’s nice seeing a mix of men and women. You get a better glimpse into friendships that form among many of them, rather than the constant bickering that happens in shows with same-gender contestants. It also feels less produced than other dating shows because there’s so much content. There are pointless little scenes that are really just there to show you the Islanders’ personalities, while other shows seem more carefully edited to only show you the dramatic scenes and to push a certain narrative.”

In addition, American viewers get a glimpse into British culture and slang. It may take a few episodes and turning on the closed captioning to understand the Islanders’ conversations, but eventually they get the hang of the “chat” and “crack on.” The “banter” has gained attention on social media and has American viewers trying it out, like Brittany Tomlinson, also known as “Kombucha Girl,” on Twitter (@brittany_broski).

Personally, I have such a strong love for “Love Island” because of what an emotional rollercoaster it is. The setup of the show completely immerses the viewers by airing hour long episodes, six times a week, totaling about 50 episodes per season. It is difficult not to become completely invested in the Islanders and their love lives when I am exposed to so much of their lives on television. Watching it feels like a nice break from reality and lets me temporarily focus on someone else’s messy life instead of my own.

“Love Island” takes the inauthenticity out of dating shows. It takes a look at the fickle nature of relationships in a way that feels real and makes all of the contestants look human, rather than like reality TV stars. It makes sense that a show like this would become so popular in Great Britain and make its way over to the states, as it appeals to the humanity in everyone. If you’re interested in giving the show a shot, seasons one through five are available to stream on Hulu.

Featured image by Chris Roome via Creative Commons.

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