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It’s the British show that’s smashed viewing records, and sparked heated debates – even in Parliament! It’s got everything a reality show could want: improbably good-looking people, bikinis, lie detectors, plastic babies … In 2017, more people applied to be on Love Island than applied to Oxford and Cambridge combined

Now you can see what the obsession is all about and immerse yourself in the first three seasons of Love Island on Showmax.

Here’s the premise of the show. A group of contestants (“Islanders”) live in a villa in the gorgeous party spot that is Mallorca in Spain. To survive, they have to couple up – for love, friendship or money. Over the course of the show, they have to re-couple several times, choosing to remain in their present couple or swapping to someone they find more appealing. Anyone who is single after the re-coupling is out, and any couples who fall foul of the public vote are also out. Sometimes, Islanders eliminate couples – just for extra spice.

In the final week, the public chooses their favourite couple. The winners take home £50 000 (that’s nearly R920 000).

That sounds simple enough (kind of) but there are also challenges and twists – like bringing ex-boyfriends/girlfriends onto the show to throw a spanner in the works – and the inevitable complications that arise when a household full of hot-bodied singles are shut up together for six weeks.

This is what the critics had to say about it.

“I am deliciously, unapologetically hooked”

“This summer has seen my first sojourn to the land of weirdly hairless bodies and Instagram-endorsed dreams. Love Island is, it turns out, the entertainment equivalent of crack cocaine. To immerse yourself in such synapse-sucking froth is to cross a line that cannot be uncrossed. It requires commitment on an absurd scale – an hour or more, six nights a week – to keep up with the bed hopping, the tear-stained confessionals and the curious campfire coupling rituals. And yet I am deliciously, unapologetically hooked.”

Fiona Sturges in The Guardian

  

Love Island is reality television at its most candied

Love Island is hot bodies sticking together in the Majorcan sun. It’s little bikinis and neon trunks. It’s sweet, shallow love that can sour at any moment. It’s sex. It’s the word “muggy,” and the ominous cry of “I’ve got a teeeext!” It’s abs and hair extensions, boobs and pomade. Love Island is reality television at its most candied, a swirl of sugar and syrup that coats your tongue and sticks to your guts, gluing you to the telly.”

Yohana Desta in Vanity Fair

“Bachelor in Paradise

Love Island is closest in design to Bachelor in Paradise, or sort of like Big Brother if everyone was young, gorgeous, and hooking up all the time.

Brian Moylan in Vulture

“The crackle of hearts breaking is audible against the soundtrack of uplifting house music

It’s not just the porny appeal of the contestants, with their bodies spread across plastic furniture like butter. Not just the women, all perfectly cast as the first to be killed in a horror film, barely a body hair between them, teetering in heels at 9 a.m. Not just the men, with their buffets of abs, skin the gentle teak of midcentury furniture, indistinguishable but for their banter. (Yes, this is a festival of banter, that ancient language of British men.) Not the contest itself, with its dystopian coupling ceremonies, where the crackle of hearts breaking is audible against the soundtrack of uplifting house music. It’s not even the sex, performed nightly in the communal bedroom after the tumescent heat of a Spanish afternoon.”

Eva Wiseman in the New York Times

Watch the first three seasons now »

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