Love Island USA is walking a fine line. Will it work out? The new CBS reality show is based on the United Kingdom series that's very popular but also very controversial for several reasons. In changing the show for the United States, will Love Island also be too watered down to find an audience?
CBS is making a big investment in Love Island, airing it every single night through August 7. That's 22 episodes across one month. There's also a fan interaction element. Love Island got a lot of fan interest after its premiere last night, but also a lot of complaints for changes from the U.K. show.
ITV America boss David George is one of the executive producers of Love Island U.S. He admitted there's a lot of pressure on the new version, and it sounds like he's hoping CBS gives it time to find its audience:
U.K. to U.S. shows can often get lost in translation. The Office was a rare exception for scripted shows. For unscripted, Big Brother started in the Netherlands before being picked up around the world, but the U.K. was the first to do Celebrity Big Brother, which the U.S. just started last year. David George expressed cautious optimism to Deadline, but Love Island USA better find an audience fast if it's airing every night across a month.
The ratings for last night's 90-minute premiere were pretty dismal. According to TV By the Numbers, Love Island had a low rating of 0.6 and 2.68 million viewers. Love Island picks up from the cliffhanger tonight at 8 p.m. before Big Brother 21 continues. But if you didn't watch the premiere, are you even going to understand or want to see the next episode? Then the next?
What it hopefully won't have is the controversies of Love Island U.K. That show is a massive hit, but the attention paid to the reality stars has often been detrimental. The show has had two former contestants commit suicide, with some linking the deaths to the pressures of instant fame. Zara Holland, former Miss Great Britain, also spoke out against the show and its producers after her sexual activity on the series led her to be stripped of her crown and publicly humiliated.
A teacher in the U.K. was also shocked when he found pupils as young as 8-years-old re-enacting scenes from Love Island at school, per Yahoo, despite the show being very adult in nature.
So far the biggest criticism seems to be about the narrator not being as good as Love Island's Scottish Iain Stirling, and the American Love Islanders not picking up or fully appreciating the British slang of the original. Plus, since this Love Island airs on CBS, there's only so much they can show in terms of language and sexuality. Right now, the U.S. show may seem too similar to what we already have, without the trademark quit, mocking edge, and adult content of the U.K. version.
But I watched the Love Island USA premiere and got myself addicted. Sure, it's summer trash, but that's what I expected and I'm easily hooked on trash. I'm not alone, there, but it may indeed take Love Island a while to find an audience. Will there be enough of us to justify that much air time -- including 80 camera positions for such a quick episode turnaround?
Love Island continues every weeknight at 8 p.m. on CBS.
Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.
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