Love Island for Beginners

The new-to-the-US reality series is huge hit in the UK. Here's what you need to know.
  • Actress/internet personality Arielle Vandenberg hosts Love Island USA (CBS)
    Actress/internet personality Arielle Vandenberg hosts Love Island USA (CBS)

    Now in its fifth season on Britain's ITV, Love Island has become a ratings magnet and a cultural juggernaut in the UK, so it's no surprise that the format would find its way to the US. 

    Like Idol and Big Brother before it, Love Island USA is expected to folow the blueprint of its British mothership, at least to start. Whether it will be forced to course correct in future seasons (as Big Brother did after an almost disastrous first US season, remains to be seen).

    One thing's for sure: CBS is making a huge commitment to the show, airing it each weeknight for the next five weeks, for a total of 25+ hours of primetime. Here's what to expect.

    The Premise

    On the surface, Love Island's premise is familiar -- kind of like a mash-up of Big Brother, The Bachelor and Temptation Island. Ten singles initially pair up based on first impressions. Together, they'll share a bed and compete against other couples in variety of challenges. The goal is remain in a couple, a task made more difficult as tempting new singles are introduced to the group, one by one.

    Every five days, there is a recoupling ceremony, during which the couples can choose whether they want to remain in their current couple, or swap and change. Anyone who remains single after a recoupling is eliminated from the game (or, to use the show's parlance, "dumped").

    Contestants can also be eliminated by viewers and/or other contestants. During the final week, the viewing public votes for which couple they want to win the series and take home a cash prize.

    The Contestants

    CBS has already announced the show's first eleven competitors (and yes, that leaves one person single after the initial "first impressions" pairings). The six women and five men range in age from 21-29 year-old, and -- as you might expect -- all are decidedly attractive. While the show has faced backlash in the UK for its lack of ethnic diversity (season four's sole black woman contestant walked off the show after consistently hearing she wasn't anyone's "type"), there are several people of color in the initial cast, but notably no known LGBTQ+ representation. 

    The Host

    Taking on the Jeff Probst/Julie Chen Moonves role is actress/internet personality Arielle Vandenberg. Best known to TV audiences for a recurring role in Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns, Vandenberg first made a name for herself on social media, where she had a large following on Twitter's now-shuttered Vine video service.

    The Setting

    Set on a island in tropical Fiji, the contestants live as couples in a shared design-forward villa. While each couple shares a bed, they also share a room with other couples, all under the glare of 24-hour surveilance video. There is one escape from the group: a luxe private "hideaway," which is reserved for those who emerge victorious in occasional challenges.

    Surely they can't be serious

    Actually, they aren't (not entirely, anyway). Which isn't to say that the show isn't for real. But unlike most of the shows in its brethren, Love Island recognizes the absurdity of its setup, and features tongue-in-cheek narration that pokes fun at the contestants and the show itself in real time. In this way, its producers liken it to an ensemble romantic comedy.

    Will you be watching Love Island USA? Weigh in on our forums.

    Jed Rosenzweig is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Primetimer. Follow him on Twitter @jedrosenzweig.

    TOPICS: Love Island, CBS, Arielle Vandenberg, Reality TV