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Even in the age of Covid-19, Love (Island (USA)) finds a way. (Image: Tina Tiller)
Even in the age of Covid-19, Love (Island (USA)) finds a way. (Image: Tina Tiller)

Pop CultureSeptember 8, 2020

What happens on Love Island USA does not stay on Love Island USA

Even in the age of Covid-19, Love (Island (USA)) finds a way. (Image: Tina Tiller)
Even in the age of Covid-19, Love (Island (USA)) finds a way. (Image: Tina Tiller)

Grab your Factor 50 and put all your eggs into someone else’s basket, because a new season of Love Island USA just landed on Neon. 

Love Island is the ultimate reality show about strangers finding love on the telly, and this season comes with a shocking twist: they’re not on an island. 

It’s news more surprising than the time Craig David turned up in the villa, but in an era when Covid-19 has screwed with our escapist television, the arrival of Love Island USA is a welcome balm. Love Island UK is cancelled, Love Island Australia seems unlikely, but God bless America, because it refuses to let anything stand in the way of hornbags finding true love.

What the heck is Love Island USA?

 It’s the American version of the popular reality franchise that began in Britain and spread quickly around the world like a horny pandemic in a tiny string bikini. Love Island takes a group of single people and throws them into a luxury villa for several weeks, with the last couple standing winning $100,000.

Whether they’re playing for love or money, these islanders, as they’re known on the show, are living the dream, locked away in a bubble of beautiful people and fun times. But the path to true love is never smooth, and Love Island is filled with ridiculous challenges, hectic dates and plenty of drama. The islanders are filmed 24/7, and every slobbery pash and tense argument is picked up by hundreds of cameras and microphones scattered throughout the villa.

Some of the lads from Love Island USA (Photo: Adam Torgerson/CBS Entertainment)

What’s different about this season?

One word: Covid. Two words: Covid Nineteen. While the 2019 season took place in Fiji, Covid travel restrictions meant the 2020 season needed to be filmed in America. Sure, Las Vegas isn’t known for its oceans and islands, but nothing makes sense on Love Island, and that’s the joy of it. If you want logic and reason, watch Blue Planet. If you want lusty singles sucking face on a bench swing, then welcome home, you’ve hit the motherlode.

Now that Love Island USA is based in Sin City, the islanders are ready to gamble on love. They’re here to play their cards right, they’re ready to hit the jackpot, and they want their ace to get in the hole. If that’s not what we need during the shittiest time since Curtis taught Maura the basic cha-cha in front of a heartbroken Amy, then I don’t know what is. 

What else is different?

Only the accents. Otherwise, it’s the same Love Island jazzy theme song, same slow-motion dance sequences and same all-important water bottles. Is it weird that even the banter is interchangeable, no matter where in the Love Island universe you sit? “I love your teeth and your energy” gets me every time.

Excuse me, that ‘villa’ looks a lot like a casino rooftop.

That’s because it is. This year’s islanders are moving into the roof of Caesar Entertainment’s boutique hotel The Cromwell, which might not be the idyllic island paradise we’re used to, but is still lush. There are thousands of neon cushions, and look at all that astroturf, shimmering in anticipation of the next eight weeks. Majestic. I’m in love already.

Just checking they’re two metres apart (Photo: Adam Torgerson/CBS Entertainment)

But there’s an astroturf-covered elephant in the room, and it’s name is Covid-19.

Covid-19 is the Love Island intruder that turns up uninvited and refuses to leave, even though the public keeps voting it out and nobody wants to share their bed with it. ITV and CBS have created a bubble within the love bubble to protect everyone working on Love Island USA, which involves quarantining cast and crew before filming, daily screening of symptoms, and testing throughout the show. Crew and staff will wear PPE, and cleaning and disinfecting protocols will be in place. In 2020, there’s nothing more romantic than a nasal swab. 

Who are the hosts of Love Island USA?

The show is hosted by Arielle Vandenberg and narrated by Matthew Hoffman, who both bring a high-energy vibe to the show. Hoffman delivers the sarcastic comments that keep the show light, like “they’re leaving lockdown to lockdown love, and all they’ve packed are swimsuits the same size as your face mask”. Accurate.

What about this year’s islanders?

This season kicks off with 11 single Americans who are tanned and veneered to an inch of their beautiful lives. There’s Kaitlynn, who’s been single for six years and has a tattoo on her inside lip that reads “psycho”, and James, who has a massive tattoo of an alien on his bicep. There’s also Love Island superfan Justine, Shopping Channel model Moira, auditor Connor and personal trainer Tre. So far, no goats have invaded the villa, but we live in hope. 

New episodes of Love Island USA are available now on Neon.

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