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Love Island made its long-awaited debut Tuesday night on CBS. As promised in a recent Hollywood Reporter interview with ITV America chief creative officer and executive producer David Eilenberg, the U.S. version of the international reality TV hit stayed true to the format — marked by a five-night-a-week broadcast schedule — that has worked in the U.K. and other countries such as Denmark, Germany and Australia.
Here, THR follows America’s first batch of “Islanders” as they begin to make waves on this side of the pond.
Night 1 (Tuesday, July 9):
The show began with a hyper-produced, glossy intro that saw the contestants flying to Fiji in swimsuits and host Arielle Vandenberg seductively emerging from the ocean, dripping wet in a hot pink monokini, only to fall face first into the sand. “I’m still ready for love,” she said with a half-laugh. “Here come the Islanders!”
The female contestants — all are known as the “Islanders” — arrived at the sprawling seaside villa where 11 young, sexy singles are currently trapped in hopes of finding love, having fun and creating TV magic. Alana Morrison, Elizabeth Weber, Alexandra Stewart, Mallory Santic and Caroline “Caro” Viehwig marked their territory while getting to know one another over glasses of champagne. In short pre-filmed packages, viewers learned more about each lady: Caro, a 21-year-old marketing student, has “recently just started loving my hair,” while 26-year-old Nike analyst Mallory has “saved photos of my wedding dress, the venue and the rings” on Instagram. “I have it all planned out,” she said. “I just need a guy.”
This section of the show also saw 21-year-old college student Alana invent a word that is likely to catch on with viewers: “situation-ship.” She explained, “I need to be in a solid, committed relationship. I am tired of the situation-ship. It can be tiring.”
The five women sat down with Vendenberg to talk more about what they’re looking for during their time on Love Island. The most specific anyone got during this powwow was Mallory, who is very much interested in finding a man with “ideally John Mayer vibes.”
The guys — none of them being Mayer (sorry, Mallory) — then showed up to present themselves to the women in the initial coupling ceremony. The women, clad in skin-baring bathing suits and high heels, stood in a line while male contestants came out one by one. That group included Cashel Barnett, Yamen Sanders, Michael Yi, Weston Richey and Zac Mirabelli.
Identical to the U.K. show, the Love Island USA ceremony played out like this: if any of the women were interested in the man before her, she stepped forward. The guy could choose one of the girls who made her attraction known, but he also had the option to couple up with any of the ladies who didn’t show interest. As seen in Tuesday’s premiere episode, these couplings were based on little more than looks — maybe a “vibe.” However, height, abs and even eyes — like Zac’s “come-here eyes” that enticed Elizabeth — certainly drove most of the pairings.
While there were women who stepped forward for more than one man — and some guys had absolutely no one step forward for them (sorry, Cashel and Weston) — the final couplings were Caro and Cashel, Elizabeth and Zac, Yamen and Alana, Mallory and Weston and Alexandra and Michael.
Part of the fun of Love Island is that new Islanders often infiltrate the villa, tempting singles away from their original partners and uncoupled individuals are sent home by their housemates. That’s when Kyra Green came in. Shocking all five couples, the 22-year-old musician made her way up from the beach to meet Vandenberg who revealed that, within the span of 24 hours, Kyra would have the chance to couple up with any man in the villa — meaning one of the women would be left without a partner the next night during the re-coupling ceremony.
Not surprisingly, this twist put the girls on edge but seemed to excite the guys — especially Weston, Cashel and Yamen, who Kyra shamelessly flirted with. While photographer and self-proclaimed “cowboy” Weston, 25, claimed he was happy with Mallory, he still entertained a conversation with Kyra — as did musician/model Cashel, 27, and ripped real estate agent Yamen, 24. With those conversations came some revelations from Kyra: She doesn’t normally like Southern boys like Weston; she immediately felt flutters with Cashel; and during a particularly candid conversation with Yamen, Kyra revealed that her last serious relationship was “with a girl.” The latter admission caused Yamen to jump up from his seat and walk away, with a smile on his face, before Kyra laughed back, “All right, sit down. You don’t have to act crazy like that.”
Love Island has received criticism for not featuring LGBTQ contestants in its other iterations. Though Eilenberg told THR that queer romances won’t be featured in this version, either, he is hoping that the casting can become more inclusive in the future. “We’re consistently talking about how to include people with a range of experiences and being more inclusive. That’s really the best I can give you on that front,” he said. “We’re really open to seeing how the show evolves, not just here but worldwide, in order to be as inclusive as we possibly can.”
The polarizing Kyra later revealed to the girls that she had her eyes set on “three guys,” but kept mum about the fact that one of them was Caro’s partner, Cashel. When Cashel eventually told Caro that he had plans to get to know Kyra, that sent Caro into a tailspin. While the women were mostly supportive of one another throughout the episode, it was here that the first girl-to-girl confrontation occurred. “You know, I’m coupled up with him and I feel like if you knew you were considering him, maybe just, like, talk to me,” said a visibly annoyed Caro, to which Kyra coldly replied, “My goal was to talk to everyone.”
After more hanging out, dancing and drinking champagne, the crew gathered for the re-coupling ceremony to hear Kyra’s decision. “What attracted me to this boy was the fact that I think he’s truly himself and he doesn’t care what other people are saying,” she teased before the episode ended with a cliffhanger.
Night 2 (Wednesday, July 10):
The episode opened with single girl Kyra’s fateful decision — and, as it turned out, it’s Caro’s man, Cashel, she wanted. Cashel was thrilled. According to Caro’s face, though, she was not pleased in the least — but she attempted to put up a good front. “Actually, good choice,” she said, visibly emotional. “He’s a great guy.”
Kyra and Cashel then went on a date to get to know each other a little bit better over bottles of champagne in a private section of the villa. The duo told each other how “giddy” they were about coupling up and even shared a steamy kiss with just “a little tongue,” Kyra later said.
Meanwhile, a distraught Caro vented to her housemates about losing her man. “Cashel and I were just getting along. I thought everyone knew we were all over each other,” she said. “We were the only couple, like, really kicking it. And [Kyra] had to do that. It’s just so, like, ridiculous.”
Caro — who, without a man, is at risk of going home — did her best to move on and soon set her sights on Michael, whom she stepped forward for in the initial coupling ceremony. Michael, who first paired up with Alexandra, admitted that he had regrets about not choosing Caro because she has a “beautiful face and beautiful body,” along with a “bubbly” personality. Despite expressing interest in Caro — and flirting back with her — Michael played it relatively cool and made it seem like he still had feelings for Alexandra.
However, that wasn’t the case at all. Michael and Alexandra eventually sat down to acknowledge their lack of spark and agreed to just be friends. But, after giving it more thought, Michael also seemed unsure about his potential with Caro. “I find myself more attracted to Caro than Alexandra,” he said in a confessional. “I think Caro was a little bit more feisty and spicy and sassy and, you know, I don’t know if I can handle that.”
Regardless of shifting her focus to Michael, Caro later said by the pool that she still had a thing for Cashel — who, at that point, was falling hard for Kyra. “We really had a connection,” Caro told a few of her housemates. “I feel like maybe in the future, if I do get to know him, would it even be dumb for me considering it?”
The cast pressed pause on Caro’s concerns when they found out that they were to participate in a game called “Excess Baggage.” The show narrator, Matthew Hoffman, offered a cheeky explanation: “One at a time, suitcases will come down a chute onto a baggage carousel landing in a section assigned to one of our girls. And the best part is, there really isn’t a prize for winning. It’s just a reality TV mechanism designed to reveal the Islanders’ deepest and dirtiest secrets.”
Each girl opened a suitcase, read a “dirty secret” from a notecard and had to guess which guy the confidential information belonged to. But instead of just saying his name, the female contestants had to kiss the guy who they thought was guilty of the respective secret. And the same went for the ladies when it was the guys’ turn to unwrap their secrets. Naturally, the game forced Islanders to kiss individuals who they weren’t coupled up with, causing a bit of tension — especially when Caro shared a “never-ending” smooch with Cashel, which prompted major side-eye from Kyra.
“I really just went with my gut. There was so much emotion from the night, so it was like, let me just kiss him and see how it feels,” Caro — who apparently still had stronger feelings for Cashel than her new target, Michael — said in a confessional. Afterward, Kyra retorted, “It’s all good, girl. Do you.”
Among the secrets that were revealed? Caro “took three people’s virginity,” Alexandra had a sleepover at Vin Diesel’s house and Yamen once flew across the country just to impress a girl. But the most shocking revelation — well, at least for Elizabeth — was the fact that Zac admitted to leaving a girl in his bed to go and hook up with his ex.
Later, Elizabeth confronted her guy about the incident, letting him know that her trust in him was beginning to waver. Zac tried to justify his actions by telling Elizabeth, “That was actually, like, a really bad time in my life. And that puts me in a bad light.”
Elizabeth sort of bought it. And it wasn’t long before she told Zac that she was “shocked” at how much she is already starting to like him within their first 48 hours of knowing each other. Zac responded with more sweet-talk: “I just like you the best.” Later, the twosome sat down for a late-night chat where they bonded over their shared love for certain amusement park rides — roller coasters are cool, but drop towers are a no-go, just FYI. Ultimately, this innocuous conversation turned into, what else, a passionate make-out session.
The episode ended with the news that two more male Islanders will be joining the villa for tomorrow’s installment: fitness coach Dylan, 25, and club promoter Cormac, 26. Now, via the official Love Island app, it’s up to viewers which of the ladies these guys get to go on a date with. Perhaps Caro — who’s still missing a solid connection within the group — will get another chance at finding her match.
Night 3 (Thursday, July 11):
The episode started off with the introduction of Dylan and Cormac. Once the girls caught wind that there were two new men on the scene, they quickly got out of bed to scope out Dylan, whose “perfect girl is athletic and doesn’t take herself too seriously,” and Irishman Cormac, who wants a woman who is “outgoing and can keep up with him.”
Now that there are six girls and seven guys in the villa, it’s one of the men who are at risk of going home. Possibly feeling vulnerable, Michael — who is paired up with Alexandra whom he doesn’t have feelings for but was also thinking about pursuing single girl Caro — immediately sized up the new guys, specifically Cormac. “Cormac’s got light eyes, the accent, he’s in shape,” said Michael in a confessional. “So, it’s a little bit of some competition but your boy here still feels confident in himself and what he can do.”
Dylan and Cormac wasted no time getting to know the ladies — and made efforts to talk to each and every one of them. Among the ensuing chats were a handful of celebrity comparisons and pop culture references. Alexandra told Dylan he looked like Liam Hemsworth, which he loved, and Cormac told Alana — who is coupled up with a skeptical Yamen — that she had a “sexy, Destiny’s Child vibe,” which she also loved. But Dylan didn’t seem to love the fact that Mallory couldn’t stop gushing over her “perfect man” John Mayer again. (She also made her passion for the singer-songwriter known during Love Island‘s premiere episode.)
“He’s a creative genius. And he’s so hot,” Mallory told Dylan, to which he replied with a blank face, “I’ve never even thought about that.”
A few more conversations and a lot more flirting went down — and Dylan and Cormac weren’t shy about letting the other guys know that they think “literally every girl is hot,” including Elizabeth, who with Zac, makes up one half of the most solid relationship in the villa. Zac, a bit threatened, had confessed earlier in the night that he wasn’t too happy about the new guys eyeing his girl.
“Like, of course, I knew they were going to find Elizabeth interesting,” he said despondently. “I’m not trying to be all territorial. I’m pretty confident where I stand. And I think I pretty much know where her head’s at.”
Zac didn’t have much to worry about, though. When Dylan and Cormac approached Elizabeth, she politely turned them down by encouraging them to go after other girls in the house. Cashel, still happy with Kyra, had also warned Dylan and Cormac that most of the villa had come to the agreement that both Zac and Elizabeth were “off limits” out of respect for their strong connection.
As assured on last night’s episode, America chose two girls for the new guys to go on dates with. Alexandra and Dylan were paired up, while Cormac got to take Caro out. The dates, which took place just feet from each other, went pretty well. Candles! Champagne! Charcuterie! “This is probably, like, my most romantic date,” Cormac told Caro, who claimed she wore a green dress in honor of Cormac’s Irish heritage. “This is perfect,” she gushed.
Behind them, a blushing Dylan told Alexandra that he would have picked her to go on a date even if America hadn’t intervened. “I definitely probably would have picked you,” he said, also noting that he likes the way Alexandra talks “because it’s exactly the way I talk.” He explained, “You say ‘dude.'” This forced Alexandra to crack a smile and flash her “big, pearly whites,” which Dylan also said was a major turn-on.
Meanwhile, back at the villa, Michael — who Caro called “boring” during her date with Cormac — admitted that he was in a “tough position” now that the two girls he had been linked to were out with other men. “I don’t know if playing with Caro was even good, and I feel like Alexandra and this other dude might actually have something,” he said to his fellow male contestants, before trying to make himself feel better. “Hey man, if they don’t want a cool, nice, passionate, good-looking fella, suit yourself.”
Now, back to those dates. Because this is a game and Love Island is known for its twists and turns, Dylan and Cormac each got a text telling them that they had to choose another girl to go on a date with right after romancing Alexandra and Caro, respectively. Alexandra and Caro were bummed, but the guys seemed intrigued to continue getting to know more of the women. Dylan chose Mallory, who seemed elated since she and current partner Weston have friend-zoned each other. And Cormac chose “off limits” Elizabeth, which shocked Elizabeth, her man, Zac, and the rest of the villa — signaled by collective gasps and dropped jaws.
The result of those dates, and the first Islander to get the boot in the next re-coupling ceremony, will most likely be revealed Friday night when week one wraps up.
Night 4 (Friday, July 12):
The last installment in the first week of CBS’ Love Island saw the first male Islander dumped from the villa. But it all started with dates between Cormac and Elizabeth, and Dylan and Mallory.
These pairings were slightly controversial because Elizabeth was previously deemed “off limits” due to her strong connection with Zac, and Alexandra — who is close with Mallory — had just finished up a date with Dylan before he decided to chat up her best friend over more champagne and charcuterie. But the dates went well, all things considered. Mallory — who, still at this point, was coupled up with Weston — and Dylan even fed each other cake.
Most of the episode dedicated itself to the crew talking through their feelings after Dylan and Cormac disturbed the peace. Though Mallory and Weston are deep in the friend zone, Weston didn’t take well to the idea that she might now have a thing for Dylan. “We said, ‘Hey, let’s be friends and see where this goes,'” Weston said, seeming open to the idea of their friendship eventually might blossoming into something more.
Michael, who was originally partnered with a disinterested Alexandra, also expressed concern that single girl Caro — who he felt was his only viable option — was losing interest after she spent the night with Cormac. “The situation that I’m in, it’s not good,” Michael said in a confessional. “And the girl that I’m having the situation with, you just don’t know what’s going on in that girl’s head.”
Cormac later approached Zac to apologize for taking Elizabeth on a date — and admitted that no sparks flew even though Cormac thinks Elizabeth is “very attractive.” He told Zac, “I don’t think she wants to date me.”
Zac, clearly relieved, responded, “If I was in your position, it’s like you’ve got to go with your gut, follow your heart, because you’re trying to have, like, the most enjoyable time.” Later, in a confessional, Zac recalled the make-out session Elizabeth greeted him with the minute she got back from her date with Cormac — an indicator that their relationship wasn’t in jeopardy like he had thought. “Last night, When Elizabeth came back after going on the date and everything, I think it just solidified that,” said Zac. “Me and her do, like, really have a really deep connection.”
Alexandra and Mallory also chatted about their respective dates with Dylan — and the takeaway was that no guy could ever come between their days-long friendship. Also, even though Mallory had a “good time” with “easy-to-talk-to” Dylan, it was evident from the girls’ conversation that Alexandra was much more infatuated.
Elsewhere, Kyra and Cashel were still head over heels for each other. “I see how you operate. I like watching you operate,” Cashel told Kyra. “I feel like I’m physically pulled toward you. I’m magnetically pulled toward you.” Answered Kyra, “That’s how I feel.”
And even though Yamen previously expressed doubts about his relationship with Alana, the two got along swimmingly throughout the episode — especially during a game of “Going Commando,” in which all the guys were forced to wear camouflage Speedos while traversing through an obstacle course. The girls, who were armed with water guns and water balloons to throw the men off track, were then tasked with choosing the “Sexiest Sergeant” as the winner.
“He looked really good,” Alana said of Yamen, with whom she shared a passionate kiss after he completed the obstacle course. “We’re going with the flow. I’m not reading too much into it. All I can say is I liked the kiss and I’m hoping to get another one,” Alana added in a confessional.
“My boy, Cash, was freaking weird per usual — just like I like it,” noted Kyra. “I can’t resist that boy anymore.” Kyra later joked about the guys’ attempts at winning the title of “Sexiest Sergeant,” saying, “There was a lot of bumping and grinding. That’s the only move that the dudes knew how to do, was like this pelvic thrust.”
In the end, Michael — whose journey through the obstacle course featured a heavy dose of twerking — won. Even though Caro was unsure about her feelings for Michael, she was certain of one thing: “He twerked like I had never seen someone twerk before.”
The fun came to a halt, though, when the Islanders learned that they would be entering a re-coupling ceremony later in that night — meaning that, yes, one guy would be going home now that there were seven women and six men.
This put the group on edge, but no one more than Caro, who made last ditch efforts to chat with several guys since she still had no idea where her heart was at. She asked Alana for permission to chat with Yamen. Alana said yes, but Caro couldn’t charm Yamen away from his original partner. Caro spoke with Michael again, but their chemistry was still lacking. She also checked in with Cormac, whom she claimed to be into, but told the group earlier, “I can’t see myself being with him.”
“It sucks to be put in this position,” said Caro in a confessional. “It feels like everyone at least has this connection or bond that they’re willing to work with. But I haven’t been able to connect with any guy.”
So, then it was time for the re-coupling ceremony in which the girls were in power. Not surprisingly, Elizabeth chose Zac, Kyra chose Cashel and Alana chose Yamen. Mallory, despite her flirtations with new guy Dylan, stuck with Weston. And Alexandra, happy to break free from her feeling-less relationship with Michael, chose Dylan.
With Michael and other new guy Cormac in front of her, a wet-eyed Caro eventually made her decision — and coupled up with Cormac, “because he makes me feel like there’s a possibility and that I can be myself and that I can have a good time.”
Instead of celebrating her new connection with Cormac, an inconsolable Caro rushed to her girlfriends for support. “I feel so bad!” she said through tears, upset at the fact that she was the one who sent Michael packing. “I can’t even look at him in the face.”
She eventually did look Michael in the face. They hugged. He said goodbye and then rushed into the villa to gather his belongings because, as host Arielle said, he only had 30 minutes to get out of there. Weston complained that he was “losing a best friend” and Yamen said that Love Island “all of a sudden just got too real.”
But, despite getting the boot, Michael closed out week one on a positive note: “I’m now looking forward to going back home and seeing my dogs. I know they miss me. And I’m just going to keep my heart open.”
Love Island airs weeknights on CBS at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
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