Yes, love may be universal, but Love Island feels very British.
A villa-full of beautiful people cracking on, being pied off and having banter is something that has collectively united a nation even in these depressing and turbulent times. It’s the British public’s summertime obsession – and distraction.
So I tuned into the brand new US version with a furrowed brow, fearing the Yanks will have bastardised our beloved show beyond recognition (did you see what they did to The Inbetweeners?).
I was skeptical whether the show’s success would be able to translate across the pond, with Love Island seemingly sanitised from the outset thanks to its earlier slot of 8pm on CBS – automatically wiping out any swearing or sex scenes from the US version (and those are usually the best bits, let’s be honest).
But before you write off Love Island USA, here’s what went down in the launch show – and our verdict may leave you surprised…
1. Their Fiji pad makes our villa look like an outhouse
In a similar vein to the original celebrity version, Love Island USA is set in Fiji – and to be honest, we’d rather couple up with the villa than one of the Islanders.
CBS reportedly set aside a $30 million budget and no expense was spared in building the Islanders’ home away from home for the next four weeks, with the US villa by far the most luxurious yet.
You’d think the jazzy neon lights, plush greenery and custom-made murals would be enough for our trans-Atlantic cousins, but the States have one-upped us once again by having their villa right on the beach, which sees bombshells literally walk out from the sea and right into the action. America 1 – UK 0.
2. Arielle Vandenberg is a “comedy” Caroline
We may only be one episode in, but Arielle is keen to make her role as host rather distinct from Flackers here in the UK.
While Caroline is queen of the slow-mo sashay and the dramatic pause, Arielle brings more laughter to the role, with her opening scenes showing her face-plant into the sea as she runs along the beach. Yes, it’s very slapstick, American humour, but it’s funny all the same.
She sort of marries Caroline’s interest in the Islanders with Paddy McGuinnes’ Take Me Out one-liners, firing out catchphrases like, “Can you see the chip to your dip?”
3. … but their narrator is no Iain Stirling
It’s just as well Arielle tries to bring the laughs, as the Love Island USA voiceover Matthew Hoffman is a wee bit dry. He attempts to bring the same sarcastic and silly putdowns as Iain but it just doesn’t quite land right – he’s not savage enough to make you laugh out loud, but he’s not nice enough to be endearing. Every time he speaks, I feel my jaw clench. Someone get Iain on the plane to Fiji ASAP.
4. The Islanders are really, really American
One of them wears a cowboy hat, for God’s sake.
They’re as bronzed and as beautiful as our UK counterparts, but every now and then they’ll drop in a line so cheesy you’ll feel your eyes roll to the back of your head – low points included: “I’m sick of ‘situationships’”, “I’mma let Jesus take the wheel” and my personal favourite, “The best type of ships are friend-ships.”
5. But there’s just as much drama as over here in the UK
With only four weeks in the villa, the drama is already moving fast, with two Islanders sharing a smooch on night one and a bombshell who shows no fear in disrupting the good ‘friend-ship’ of the villa.
Whether Love Island manages to capture America’s attention like it has in the UK remains to be seen, but will we continue watching every night for the next month? You bet we will.
Love Island USA airs weeknights 8/7c on CBS.