Love Island is like Bachelor in Paradise meets Big Brother, so it's summer TV in a nutshell, and it's finally debuting on CBS after several successful UK seasons. But if this is your first foray into the infamous villa (ask your friends who've been addicted to watching past seasons of Love Island on Hulu if that terminology is escaping you). The good news is, if you've ever watch the British Love Island, the American Love Island rules are exactly the same.
But in case you've never visited Love Island, here's a primer: Contestants (called Islanders) search for love while living, full time, in a tricked out villa in Fiji. In that way, it's very Bachelor in Paradise, but Love Island has a few big differences from that show — namely that it all happens in real time, rather than being taped months before airing. That means viewers can actually participate in the villa antics by voting on who stays and who goes, which new recruits join the villa, and the winner. Oh, and there's a cash prize for the winning couple rather than Paradise's signature series of beachside proposals.
The structure of the show is fast-paced, because it's on five nights a week. So here's everything you need to know to stay on top of the Love Island format.
Islanders Have To Coupled Up Immediately
Just like in the UK version, Love Island contestants are formed into couples on the very first day. From there (again, like in the UK), they'll sleep in the same bed as their partner starting on the very first night. However, they can choose not to sleep together if they're uncomfortable with that or in a fight.
Uncoupled Islanders Are Eliminated (Or Dumped)
If someone is single come a Coupling Ceremony, they are eliminated. But contestants can also be eliminated by a public vote (cast by viewers) or an Islander vote (cast by their fellow contestants). So, Islanders have to make sure they're coupled up, likable to the audience, and also likable to their cast mates. It's a tough gig.
New Islanders Join All The Time
Think your coupling is rock solid? Think again because new people join the show all the time and have the potential to "steal" a partner away leaving someone else single and up for elimination.
Islanders Are Allowed To Change Their Couplings
Just because they get paired up on day one doesn't mean they have to stay with just that person. As long as Islanders are in a couple by the time the Coupling Ceremony happens, they get to stay on the show. (You know, unless America votes them out.) Because they just have to be in any pair to stay, some Islanders "may not be romantically interested in each other" but couple up with friends or even enemies just to try to stay on the show. (If you've seen the UK version, you know this is how things get really spicy... and sometimes emotionally confusing for the Islanders.)
The Contestants Get To Use Cellphones — But There's a Catch
Although Islanders can't have their own cellphones in the villa, they do get Love Island smartphones. The phones alert them about "dates, fun challenges and messages about coupling ceremonies." Besides that, they're isolated from the outside world.
There's A Limit On Alcohol
USA Today reported that Islanders are only permitted two drinks per night. Executive producer David Eilenberg told the outlet, "It’s actually a show positioned very much against excessive alcohol use in any way. We like the islanders to have a good time, but because the show is geared toward actual coherent conversation and connection it’s not a show that allows excessive acts of alcohol consumption."
The Viewers Get To Vote For A Winner
There is a yet-undisclosed cash prize for the winning couple, who theoretically receives both true love and money at the end. Eilenberg said in a CBS clip that viewers get to vote for the Love Island winner, who is essentially "America's favorite couple." So Islanders need to be mindful of how their behavior comes across to viewers if they want to win.
So get ready for five nights a week of drama, because money can't buy love, but money and love are both prizes on this show — and some Islanders may do anything it takes to claim the victory.