When the 2019 season of Britain’s hit reality tv show Love Island was announced, I know everyone was dying to ask the same question: Is Emily going to recap this show? Well, the short answer is no. The slightly longer answer is hell no.
The longest answer? I’m about to get into it in this blog post.
Let me take it back to the beginning. Last summer I was in a bad place. My brother had recently died and I was struggling to study for my comprehensive exams for my PhD while also going through the grieving process. You didn’t think a blog post about Love Island was going to go there, did you? See, already Love Island is very personal.
Anyway, when I was feeling overwhelmed (which was always), I turned to Love Island. Hulu was airing all four available seasons, and they were readily available with a click of my Roku remote. Very dangerous. Before I knew it, I had spent an entire summer watching strangers having sex in full view of night vision cameras while their fellow contestants slept in beds next to them. Or sometimes watched and giggled. In comparison, Bachelor in Paradise looks downright wholesome (even with the Corinne/Demario scandal).
Yes, sometimes the contents of the show are shocking. Unlike Love Island’s American counterparts, the show contains swearing, frank conversations about sex, extremely sexual situations, and, yes, MOST SHOCKINGLY OF ALL sometimes politics come up. Just check out this clip of these Love Island ladies discussing the ins and outs of Brexit. Amazing.
But all of this SHOCKING CONTENT doesn’t really end up being the main draw here. What kept me frying my brain on four seasons of Love Island in one summer even though I should have been doing anything else with that time (seriously it’s SO MANY hours of television)? The people. When you spend that much time with a group of people, you start to get attached to them and want to check in on them. They’re interesting, they’re funny, and you become invested in their relationships.
Of course as a viewer I get invested in American dating shows like The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise, and of course, my beloved Are You The One? What makes Love Island different besides the charming British accents and the controversial sex and politics content? I think the thing that makes Love Island work so well is also the thing that makes Love Island a complete life-ruiner. Every season is around 50 episodes long. This is not an exaggeration. I truly mean every season is right around fifty episodes.
For those who are unaware, Love Island airs nightly in the UK, and viewers have the opportunity to watch and then vote on things that happen on the island. For instance, viewers often vote on who will get to go out on dates when new people arrive in the villa. Often times, viewers get to directly affect which Islanders are in danger of being eliminated and which ones will be saved.
The constant airing of new content along with the knowledge viewers have that they are affecting the Islanders as they film the show RIGHT NOW makes for compelling television. So many shows, especially competition shows, give away what contestants are going to be key players and make it to the end via the editing choices. However, because this show is being edited and airing while the contestants are still on the island, what happens next becomes more unpredictable. Of course, editing still affects how we view contestants, but it can’t give away an ending that hasn’t happened yet.
The nightly episodes also give more room to focus on things outside of the relationships and love triangle dramas. We really see friendships form and we become attached to people through their interactions and clear love for their friends on the show. I think of Kem and Chris from Season 2, whose friendship with one another became more popular with viewers than their relationships with the women. Since the show, they have created a lot more content with one another including, unfortunately, this music video.
This season, my favorite contestant, thus far, is Curtis, a ballroom dancer who seems to be everyone in the Villa’s personal cheerleader. In fact, Curtis is so supportive of the other Islanders, that The Sun wrote that “Love Island fans are convinced Curtis is an undercover psychiatrist put in place to protect the cast.” Me? I’m just convinced my dear Curtis has a heart of gold, and if he and his girl Amy don’t make it to the end, I will be HEARTBROKEN.
But see? This is why I would be absolute garbage at covering this show. Even when the contestant say their fair share of stupid things, at the end of the day, they generally seem like a swell group that I’m rooting for, in spite of all the drama. I’d just end up gushing about how cute and sweet they are. As much as I hate Luke P on the current season of The Bachelor, he certainly gives Susan and me something to recap about.
In addition, Love Island has the added bonus of narrator Iain Stirling who makes snarky jokes throughout every episode, making fun of the contestants, yes, but also the show in general. This is usually the recapper’s job, so… what is there left for me to say when Iain Stirling is literally saying it for me?
And while we’re talking about how impossible this show would be to recap, let’s talk about how difficult it is, as an American, to keep up with a UK show that airs EVERY NIGHT. By the time I’ve thought I’ve caught up with all available episodes, another one has just aired in the UK, and I’ll have to wait another 12 hours before I can find it anywhere in the US. I know. The struggle is real. Keeping up with Love Island is a tough job, and it’s not one that most people should have to do.
I watched approximately 150 episodes of Love Island last summer, and I’m a less stable human being because of it. You can’t watch 150ish hours of a program like this in such a short amount of time without being forever changed. It’s too late for me now. Now I’m doomed to scour the Internet looking for my latest Love Island fix. And soon there will be an American version of this show as well (which I am skeptical about but will still watch… and probably report back). Love Island is truly becoming too much of a good thing, and yet I can’t stop consuming it.
Although I have said Love Island would be impossible for me to recap, that doesn’t mean people aren’t out their attempting to recap this show. I listen to the official Love Island podcast The Morning After, which recaps each episode of Love Island with lovely hosts Arielle Free and Kem Cetinay (of Kem and Chris fame). They also have all of the booted Islanders on the show to discuss all the juicy details of what’s really going on in the house.
So if you need MORE Love Island content aside from your hour-long nightly episode, hit up The Morning After. But do not hit me up for recaps unless you want to just hear me gush about Curtis and complain about how this show has ruined my life. End of discussion.
Love Island is currently in its fifth season, and while it is not officially available in the US yet, Hulu promises it will be coming to the streaming service soon. The first four seasons of Love Island are still available on Hulu.