CBS has the makings of a problem. For years, they’ve had a trilogy of massive hit reality TV shows: Survivor, The Amazing Race, and their summer sensation Big Brother. But together these shows have broadcast 90 seasons total on the Eye Network (not including spin-offs). Big Brother’s 21st season — the 91st of all three — is airing right now. And while each of the brands have held relatively strong, it's clear that the CBS reality empire needs some fresh blood.
Enter Love Island, the US variant of the enormously popular UK dating reality series. Both sexy and silly, on paper it's as close to a surefire hit as one can get. At least that seems to be what CBS is thinking, programming it five nights a week and giving it a huge promotional push.
Will the series, which challenges singles to find their matches and last until the end for a possible cash prize for the best couple, hit it big with American audiences?
After the premiere, these are the four singles we’re looking forward to following to most — and who we’re hoping we’ll spend a lot more time with this summer.
Every reality TV show needs a great storyteller. And Alana is a great storyteller. From the instant she walked onto the Fiji set, she was clearly the star of the group. Her declaration that although she’s never been in relationships, she’s “been in situationships,” could’ve felt corny or forced. But everything she said read as a true character, someone a series like this absolutely requires to succeed. I’m glad she got paired with the best guy, too, and am hopeful they can get over any initial hiccups and stay together for the long run.
We didn’t get a lot out of Elizabeth on night one, but I liked the glimpses we got. She’s from New York, and seems a bit more down-to-earth. She’s got a sense of calm that doesn’t come across as self-serious, but rather confident. I like that her response, when asked if a guy refused to shave his facial hair, was “He would have to!” Good for you, Elizabeth! Accept nothing less than what you want on this reality dating show! Everyone should be treating Love Island like exactly what it is, and so far Elizabeth is knocking it out of the park (alongside our next girl).
Bisexual icon Kyra! Sexy interloper Kyra! Honestly, Kyra could’ve been easily cast as the villain of this group. She was the last woman in, and thus is tasked with stealing a guy from one of the other girls in the first recoupling ceremony. She could’ve schemed and manipulated, or hidden her intentions. But to her credit, she was friendly with the other women, and extremely upfront about her intentions with the men. She took her duty with integrity, aiming to do what was best for her, but without disrespecting the girls. At the same time, she played into the game, and checked out all her options.
Judging by the preview for episode 2, I’m guessing Kyra picks Cashel, Caro’s guy. That’s a dramatic choice, but I appreciate her flair for the dramatic. I can see her being the crowd favorite all season long.
Just … gorgeous. I like Yamen beyond his looks, to be sure. I like that he's cautious of Alana because of her lack of relationships, and I appreciate how he kept Kyra’s confidence when she came out to him as queer. But, yeah, most of all I like Yamen because he’s hot as hell. This is a show that doesn’t shy away from showing off its cast’s looks, and of the men, Yamen stands out as by far the hottest. (Yes, Michael is a model, and he’s certainly attractive, but he’s a little too aware of his own attractiveness for me.) I’m naturally drawn to the women most — likely because, as a gay man, I’m interested in the journeys of people dating men first and foremost. But Yamen is the lone guy I 'm really rooting for this summer.
Which of the Islanders made the best first impression(s) on you? Weigh in on our forums.
Kevin O'Keeffe is a writer, host, and RuPaul's Drag Race herstorian living in Los Angeles. Follow his musings and rantings on Twitter @kevinpokeeffe.