It's easy to be skeptical when you hear that your favorite show or movie is getting remade. Save for perhaps The Office, U.K.-to-U.S. adaptations don't necessarily have the best track record. However, it won't take long for the cast of the U.S. Love Island to convince you that the juggernaut U.K. reality dating show is in good hands in its American incarnation, which premieres July 9 on CBS. Sure, there are some differences. Spain has been swapped for Fiji, and you'll probably hear more about contestants "playing the field" and "hooking up" instead of "cracking on" and "grafting," but the premise holds true: A group of extremely attractive contestants must couple up with one another and see how their relationships fare through the arrivals of new suitors and sneaky eliminations. Plus, the 11 cast members kicking off the CBS show are tried-and-true fans of the original series — or at least know that the ubiquitous Love Island water bottles personalized for each contestant are the thing they should be most excited about.
Unlike dating shows such as The Bachelor, Love Island will air five nights a week and is filmed as close to real time as CBS can get. This means the potential for spoilers is refreshingly low, but also that when Refinery29 spoke to the contestants ahead of their journey, they were just as in the dark as you are. Will they get along with their fellow suitors? Do anything embarrassing on the 24-hour cameras? Actually find true love? Ahead, find out how the first 11 Love Island contestants are preparing to enter the villa, what they're hoping to replicate from the U.K. version, and why it's important to check that your vacation home has a DVD player before packing your Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air box set.
What are you most looking forward to that you watched in the original show?
Elizabeth Weber, 24, New York City, advertising exec: "The biggest thing for me that I'm hoping will be the same is in the U.K. version, all the girls were so close. They always were looking out for each other. Nobody really threw anyone under the bus, and they were all such good friends. I hope that that translates through to the American version as well."
Alexandra Stewart, 25, Los Angeles, publicist: "I'm so excited to get the water bottle, number one. So cool. And obviously the challenges. They're going to be hilarious."
Caroline Viehweg, 21, Los Angeles, marketing student: "I hope that they have the same challenges as [the U.K. version]. Sometimes I'll watch these challenges that happen at night, like, this is gonna sound bad, but the stripping ones. Those fun ones. I hope that the American one will also have that, cause I know they're a bit more conservative, but I hope they throw in some like fun challenges like that."
Kyra Green, 22, Los Angeles, musician: "My ex got me into it, so that'll be interesting for them to watch me on the new version."
Cashel Barnett, 27, Sacramento, California, musician and model: "Watching the show — because I studied in London for a semester — all this slang came back to me, and for the next couple of weeks I kept using all these British slang words. I'm like, What's going to happen when I get to the island and start talking like that? Just, you know, from having the association with the show and then being on it. I don't think it's going to happen, but that's something I definitely thought about."
How have you prepared? Did you pack anything special?
Elizabeth: "I definitely packed a lot of sun screen. I don't want to get sunburned. I feel like watching the U.K. version, everyone was always so sunburned, and I was like, Okay, we need to be careful about that."
Mallory Santic, 25, Vancouver, Washington, Nike analyst: "Oh my god, I did so much research. I literally went on YouTube and watched every other Islander talk about their experience on Love Island and tried to get some advice from them. I hate shopping, and when I knew I was getting on the show, I was literally at the mall for eight hours."
Alexandra: "I have my little teddy bear. That's mainly the one thing that I brought that I was like, I can't leave home without."
Weston Richey, 25, Dallas, photographer: "Packing was pretty difficult because you can't have any major brands or anything like that. I brought just plain basic stuff: my cowboy boots, my jeans, swim trunks. And then I brought my Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air DVDs in case there was a DVD player, which there's not."
Cashel: "I just brought my shorts and tanks and a guitar. Hopefully I'll get to play."
Michael Yi, 29, Miami, model: "I wish I could have brought my dogs. That would have been awesome."
What kind of partner are you hoping to meet on the island?
Alexandra: "I would love for a Liam Hemsworth-type guy to walk in, and his personality to match. I always go for the athletic guy who is the life of the party. Just always having fun, can connect with everyone around him, not just hanging on to me all the time."
Weston: "I'm a very spontaneous person. I'm a photographer, so I travel a lot around a lot. And My life's kind of crazy, to be honest. I see a lot of things. I shoot a lot of cool things. So realistically, I'm sure I have a better chance of finding a girl here that's more spontaneous and wants to travel than back home."
Yamen Sanders, 24, Los Angeles, Real estate agent: "Definitely hopefully find a long-term relationship. That would be amazing. I feel like I've been single for so long. I've started to get those lonely vibes. Like, Oh my goodness, where's where's the love that I need?"
Zac Mirabelli, 22, Chicago, grocery store cashier: "I'm looking for a girl who is like, tan skin, blue eyes, and nice smile. I don't have a preference on hair color...I'm actually hoping to make some friends, hopefully have a bromance or something."
How would you describe your relationship history/love life?
Alana: "I've never been in a relationship before. I feel like I had to do some revising, fixing myself and saying, These are my new rules and this is what I want and I don't want. I'm now new and improved. I'm ready to really start a real chapter in my relationship life. Interestingly enough, though, it will just be on national television."
Yamen: "My last relationship was four years ago and lasted about three years. Since then, my love life has just been me doing whatever I want to do, whenever I want to do it, with whoever I want to do it with."
Michael: "I find myself not getting bored with somebody, but I mean, if it's just not working, I don't want to waste their time. I don't want to waste my time. And sometimes it's better just to be alone if something's not working. That's kind of what I've been doing the last year, and I think it's been a year of me being solo. I'm just kind of done with that."
What are you most scared about being filmed 24/7?
Elizabeth: "I think it's kind of exciting. They're going to be catching like the most random weird things that I end up doing. I get the hiccups all the time, I'm waiting for all of my different hiccups pieced together as a clip."
Alana: "I feel like at first I'm going to peep the cameras, but I feel like three hours later I'm going to forget. I'm gonna be doing all the dumb stuff that I do at my house in my room when no one's looking, even though there'll probably be a bunch of cameras watching. Let's hope I don't look too crazy."
Kyra: "When I was 11 to 14, maybe, I was a Kidz Bop kid. I was one of the main ones. So they would follow us around all the time before our shows, and we had to do press stuff and this and that. You do see the cameras at first, but it gets hella normal. My dad was like, 'Girl, I'll be watching the show, you know, don't get cray-cray.'"
Do you think you’ll find true love?
Caroline: "I'm a very optimistic person, and I usually connect with guys pretty easily when it comes to the intimate level of being in a relationship, so I'm really hoping that I do. But you never know how it's going to be outside the villa. I'm actually hoping it's going to be something that will last outside."
Mallory: "Modern-day dating is totally all the social media, texting, waiting days for a person to reply, or reading too much into the punctuation. On Love Island there is no phone, so that'll be super nice. I won't be freaking out if a guy like likes another girl's photos and stuff like that because that's what kills modern day dating, I think, the phones and the social media. It'll be really nice to be away from all that. It will be a lot more organic."
Alana: "It low-key reminds me of a social experiment. Because when you think about it, there's only the people there. You don't really get too much contact with the outside. So the people you're entertained by, the people you communicate with, you're still building a relationship. I think you really are going to get close to the person. So I do really see it as a possibility to really find love."
Love Island premieres July 9 on CBS at 8 p.m., with new episodes every weeknight through August 7.