What is “Love Island”?
We are all about to find out, and at the same time (no review screener was available): Starting Tuesday and airing every weeknight until Aug. 7 (CBS, 8 p.m.), “Love Island” will be an unavoidable part of our viewing lives, whether we want to avoid it or not. There will be voting, texting and other assorted online components as well.
So let’s get down to the questions, beginning with the first one:
What is “Love Island”?
It’s based on an extremely popular British series that has aired on ITV2 since 2015: Eleven single men and women are brought to a villa in Fiji (the British version is set on Mallorca), and they pair up — but we’ll get to that format in a bit. The show has spread to a half-dozen European countries, plus Australia.
Strangers … men and women … pairing up … lots of cameras. Hmm, sounds familiar, no?
Nothing’s new under the sun, and almost certainly nothing will be particularly new under that hot Fijian one. “LI” is similar to the early editions of “Big Brother,” and when that launched on CBS in July 2000, it, too, aired on consecutive weeknights. “LI” also looks, sounds and feels like a mashup of “The Bachelor/Bachelorette” with “Bachelor in Paradise.” A particularly familiar antecedent aired this spring on Fox — the reboot of “Paradise Hotel.”
OK, what is the format?
The 11 strangers pair up, initially based on first impressions. There are six women and five men — which means one woman will be left standing, and the game will likely be over for her. Or at least maybe: Viewers also can vote out individuals, or vote to keep them in, and vote out couples via text. The game then continues with de-coupling scenes, in which individuals (after those initial hookups) then pick someone else to be with. This is where the strategy comes in. If one couple appears to be particularly popular with viewers, this is the chance to break them up. The goal of “Love Island” isn’t merely to find true love, but mostly to find true cash: The winning couple at the end of the run will get a big check. CBS has yet to announce how much. (Winners on the British version get around $63,000.)
Is that all there is?
No, there’s a lot more. As people get voted off the island, more contestants arrive — hunkier contestants who are supposed to tempt those left standing. Meanwhile, the game of musical chairs continues until only one couple is left. To flavor this up, there are silly games that pit the female contestants against the male.
How tacky and tawdry will this be?
The Brit and Aussie versions are borderline raunchy, and appear to often cross over the border. Lots of skin, and couples are occasionally sent to private rooms to do whatever couples are supposed to do there. Cameras are everywhere and rolling. Booze is consumed. Canoodling is common, or in the vernacular of the Brits, there is much “snogging.” CBS’ version airs at 8 p.m., which used to mean something, but no more. Nevertheless, CBS might tone it down.
Who are the contestants?
Our lovelorn would-be island lovers are: Alexandra Stewart (25, a publicist from L.A.); Zac Mirabelli (22, from Chicago, a grocery store cashier and former football player); Mallory Santic (25, from Vancouver, Wash., Nike analyst); Alana Morrison (21, New Haven, Conn., college student); Michael Yi (29, from Miami, and a model); Caroline Viehweg (21; L.A.; marketing student); Yamen Sanders (24; L.A.; real estate agent); Kyra Green (22; L.A.; musician); Weston Richey (25; Dallas; photographer); Elizabeth Weber (24; New York; ad executive); and Cashel Barnett (27; Sacramento, Calif.; model-musician).