'Love Island': Here's How the Reality Dating Show Actually Works

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Get ready Islanders, it’s time forLove Island

CBS’ newest reality dating show, adapted from the popular British format, has everything you ever wanted in a summer obsession: a cast of sexy singles, blossoming romance and heart-pounding drama. 

Hosted by Arielle Vandenberg, the new series will feature a fresh crop of Islanders as they embark on a journey to find long-lasting love, all while living under the same roof and going through “couplings,” “recouplings” and “dumpings” (more on those later). The couples who make it to the end have a shot at winning the big prize: cash and a new romance. 

With celebrity fans such as Tom Holland, Adele and Paris Hilton, Love Island has been a massive success in the U.K., so it was only natural that we get into the game here. But before Love Island takes over our TVs this summer, here is ET’s ultimate guide to your latest reality television obsession.

What is Love Island?

Based on the buzzy British sensation, Love Island is a reality dating show that combines elements of Bachelor in Paradise (the romance), Big Brother (the strategizing) and Survivor (the challenges) with real-time interaction from the public. The goal of the game is to remain coupled up until the end of the season, with the winning pair receiving a cash prize and, if they’re lucky, a budding new relationship.

When will Love Island air?

Love Island will air weeknights starting Tuesday, July 9 with a supersized 90-minute premiere at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS, followed by brand new episodes every weekday at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The month-long summer adventure culminates with the finale on Wednesday, Aug. 7. 

Who is the host?

Arielle Vandenberg: Love Island host

Arielle Vandenberg, an actress who has previously appeared on Greek, Meet the Browns and How I Met Your Mother. A self-described fan of Love Island, the 32-year-old Los Angeles native is excited to get a front row seat to all the romance and drama, saying in an official statement in June: "I’m here for it all... the love, the relationships, the recoupling... bring it on. I feel so honored to be at the head of the table watching it all go down!"

Who are the Islanders?

Love Island USA cast

The first 11 Islanders -- six women and five men -- were officially announced by CBS on June 30. They range in age from 21 to 29 and come from all parts of the country, though nearly half of the initial group of Islanders hail from Los Angeles alone. To find out more about the Islanders, read our guide to the Love Island cast.

Elizabeth Weber, 24 (New York, New York): The advertising executive’s celebrity crush is Shawn Mendes.

Caroline “Caro” Viehweg, 21 (Los Angeles, California): The marketing student is looking “for a guy who is spiritual, loving, friendly, funny and authentic.” 

Mallory Santic, 25 (Vancouver, Washington): The Nike analyst’s biggest pet peeve in a romantic partner are guys who are loud chewers.

Alana Morrison, 21 (New Haven, Connecticut): The college student has never had a boyfriend, but her celebrity crush is NFL pro Odell Beckham, Jr. 

Alexandra Stewart, 25 (Los Angeles, California): The publicist says she’s “looking for someone romantic, compassionate and supportive,” but most importantly, he should be “tall.”

Kyra Green, 22 (Los Angeles, California): A musician, Kyra has her eye on a man who has a “skater, artistic vibe.”

Cashel Barnett, 27 (Sacramento, California): The model-musician wants his dream girl to have a sense of humor and calls Tina Fey his celebrity crush.

Yamen Sanders, 24 (Los Angeles, California): The real estate agent is described as “the life of the party and the best person to get advice from.”

Michael Yi, 29 (Miami, Florida): The oldest of the initial group of Islanders, the model is says Jennifer Garner is his celebrity crush. 

Weston Richey, 25 (Dallas, Texas): The photographer, who built his own house, is looking for “someone beautiful on the inside and out,” with “a great smile.”

Zac Mirabelli, 22 (Chicago, Illinois): A grocery store clerk, Zac is seeking a “trustworthy, supportive and goofy girl who brings out the best in him.”

Like the U.K. series, these 11 won’t be the only Islanders looking for love. As the season unfolds, more Islanders will arrive at the Villa to threaten established couplings and stir up major drama. Luckily for those watching at home, casting is still open for the season, so viewers who see Islanders they "fancy" on social media or in the Villa can still apply. Who knows, one day you could be on your couch and the next, whisked off to Fiji to find love!

Where is Love Island filmed?

The sexy singles will enjoy a summer under the sun living in a fancy villa in Fiji -- complete with a huge backyard (so much room for tanning!), a large pool and, if it’s like the British series, lots of King-size daybeds and cushy white couches for cuddling and makeout sessions. (The U.K. Islanders spend their summers living in a villa on the Spanish island of Majorca.)

ET had the first look of the sprawling oceanfront villa with Vandenberg showing us the ins and outs, including the coveted “hideaway” (think The Bachelor and The Bachelorette’s fantasy suites):

What are the rules of Love Island?

Love Island will follow the same rules as the British series, where anything can happen at any time. But let’s start with the basic rules first.

The initial 11 Islanders will be the first to enter the Villa, where they will get to know each other and find out if there is a romantic connection (or two, or even three) with a fellow Islander. When it comes time for them to couple up (aka the “coupling”), the Islanders must pair up and the remaining single will be eliminated (aka the “dumping”). 

As the season unfolds and more Islanders come into the Villa, the couples will have the opportunity to decide whether they want to stay together with their partner or stray and pair up with someone new (aka the “recoupling”). 

The main goal for the Love Island-ers is to stay coupled up all season, with singles facing the threat of elimination. Whichever couple makes it to the end and wins the public vote are the winners of Love Island and take home the grand prize.

What makes Love Island unpredictable is that things can happen on a whim and the rules are malleable. The Islanders don’t have access to the outside world, but they are equipped with smartphones, where they get important updates via hashtag-heavy texts -- from revealing games (i.e. sexy charades, eyebrow-raising tweet challenges) and one-on-one dates to upcoming recouplings and unseen villa footage that may damage relationships. 
For more on how Love Island will generally work, watch CBS’ explainer video here: 

How will the Islanders be eliminated?

Much like dating in the modern age, this can happen through a variety of ways. For example, a couple can decide face-to-face to consciously uncouple, leaving them both single and on the ropes for elimination in the next “re-coupling.” Or by public vote, where viewers can decide to dump their least favorite couple. Or by their fellow Islanders, who can decide their fates by choosing who they want to exit the game. (And don’t forget to take those signature Love Island water bottles on your way out!)

Will there be twists?

Oh, count on it. Though we won’t know what these twists are until they happen, Love Island U.K. introduced Casa Amor in its third season, which split up the women and the men into separate villas and brought in new Islanders for them to potentially re-couple with. You can imagine the type of stress, strife and devastation the post-Casa Amor fallout have caused. Plus, Islanders won't be able to get too comfortable as eliminations can happen at the drop of a hat.

Will the public have a say?

Very much so. Viewers at home will have the power to affect the game by voting for their favorite and least favorite couples, so it’s important for the Islanders to remain likable but also part of a solid duo. 

What if I want to watch the original British version of Love Island?

You’re in luck! If you’re intrigued by what made Love Island -- hosted by the peerless Caroline Flack -- a phenomenon overseas, you can watch the first four seasons and the current fifth season on Hulu. But, if you’re strapped for time, we suggest investing your time in season four for 49 episodes of pure entertainment, steamy love triangles and stunning betrayals. 

And, if you can’t seem to get enough of hot singles trying to find “the one,” Love Island is airing or will be premiering in at least nine other countries, including Australia, Germany and Sweden, this year. 

Will there be an official Love Island aftershow?

Yes! ET will host an official Love Island aftershow, Love After the Island, hosted by ET Live's Lauren Zima, where we will recap the series weekly with commentary, special guests and exclusive interviews with eliminated Islanders. Episodes will air Fridays at 9 a.m. PT on ETonline, ET Live and the ET YouTube channel.

Download the ET Live mobile app from the Google Play store or Apple App Store. Or stream ET Live on your RokuApple TV or Amazon Fire TV device.

Love Island premieres Tuesday, July 9 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

For complete coverage of Love Island, sign up for ET's daily newsletter to keep up with all the scoop.


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