Love Island USA: What did viewers and critics think?

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CBS

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Zac and Elizabeth shared the $100,000 (£82,000) prize

The first US series of Love Island concluded on Wednesday – with Zac and Elizabeth crowned the winning couple.

The series has been running for the last four weeks and has seen Islanders coupling up (and of course re-coupling) in a new villa in Fiji.

The show began in the UK, where it has grown into a huge hit.

CBS, the network broadcasting the US series, has a lot riding on the show after winning a bidding war for the rights last year.

So how has it gone down? And will it be coming back?

How has it done in the ratings?

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CBS

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Love Island has already been re-commissioned for a second series in the US

The US version of Love Island has been averaging 2.6 million viewers per episode.

That may not sound very impressive – after all, the most recent UK series often attracted more than twice that, despite having only one fifth of the US population.

But Love Island has much more competition in the US, where there are other hit dating shows such as ABC’s The Bachelor, which began in 2002 and prompted several spin-offs including The Bachelorette.

Also – it has taken five series for Love Island to become the smash hit it is in the UK. The first series brought in around 500,000 viewers to ITV2, but the recent series peaked at more than six million.

CBS will be hoping for a similar upward trend for the second series, which has already been commissioned.

Who has been watching?

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CBS

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The villa is in Fiji but features a lot of the same elements as the Majorca one – like the fire pit

Like in the UK, while it may not necessarily be the highest-rating show on TV, Love Island has attracted a hard-to-reach audience.

“There’s no doubt [CBS] could’ve gotten as many eyeballs, or even more, by filling Love Island’s 8pm timeslot with reruns. It probably would’ve been cheaper, too,” wrote Josef Adalian in Vulture.

“But even if there were fewer viewers, the folks who did watch Love Island are arguably more valuable to CBS… They are younger, more engaged, and more of them are women.”

This reflects the UK demographic – where much of the audience is female and aged 16-34.

Last week, CBS Entertainment chief Kelly Kahl said Love Island had delivered “a really solid, consistent core audience comprised of people who don’t typically watch CBS”, adding that it was the network’s most-streamed show of the season – implying it was particularly popular with young audiences.

Notably, the show’s audience also remained fairly steady throughout the series – with those who watched the premiere mostly sticking with it for the next four weeks.

How is it different from the UK version?

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PA Media

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Amber and Greg were crowned the winners of the most recent British series

The format is largely the same – it’s mainly the contestants, location and series length that were different.

Comedian Arielle Vandenberg hosted the series, which debuted on 9 July. Matthew Hoffman took on the role of the show’s narrator – delivering similarly humorous commentary to the UK’s Iain Stirling.

While the UK version is filmed in Mallorca, the US version has been shot in Fiji, where the average temperature in July is around 26C.

The four weeks makes it a shorter series than in the UK – but ITV2’s recently-announced winter version of Love Island will also be considerably shorter.

Like in the UK, the CBS show was broadcast every weeknight in one-hour episodes.

What did the critics think of the US version?

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CBS

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The Islanders are seen going on dates similar to those set up in the UK version

The reviews have been mixed, with many critics finding the show entertaining, but suggesting there’s room for improvement.

“The original batch of Islanders is extremely bland,” wrote Ben Travers on IndieWire, adding that the tasks hadn’t been particularly entertaining.

“Producer manipulation is nonexistent,” he wrote. “One game required Islanders to guess who was being targeted in fans’ insulting tweets, but that barely spurred any insecurities, let alone relationship problems.”

Vice’s Lauren O’Neill wrote: “It’s basically a carbon copy of the UK version, which is for the best. However, it’s let down by the fact the American contestants feel a bit more contrived than the UK ones, and the whole thing is: a) even less natural, and b) nowhere near as funny.”

But Vulture’s Kathryn VanArendonk said: “There is something about it, something about the insularity and banality of it all, that makes the show hard to quit.

“Are there more interesting things to watch? Sure. But is it nice to watch an unexpectedly gentle reality show about hot, superficial singles just trying their best to get along while wearing bikinis…? Strangely enough, for right now, it is.”

Viewers have been largely positive about the series on social media, but some have had a few suggestions of their own about how the series could be tweaked.

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