Love Island Australia - a bit messier and brasher than the UK version but you'll still be hooked
Missed out on the TV hit of the summer? You've got another chance as Love Island Australia launches on Monday, complete with an Irish narrator. Amy O'Connor gives her verdict
Without a doubt, the television phenomenon of the summer has been Love Island.
For the past six weeks, the nation has been utterly gripped by the antics of Jack, Dani, Alex, Wes, Megan, Georgia et al. As well as dominating conversations at the proverbial watercooler, it even inspired a line of 'I've got a text!' T-shirts in Penneys, a reference to one of the show's most popular catchphrases. Not only is Love Island wonderfully escapist, it's also inescapable.
If you are unfamiliar with the show, allow me to get you up to speed. Hosted by Caroline Flack and airing six nights a week, the series follows a cast of young singletons looking for love within the luxurious confines of a Mallorcan villa.
Boys and girls must couple up together, with one pair winning £50,000 at the end of the series. Before they get to that stage, however, they must resist having their heads turned by hot new contestants dropped into the villa each week, and avoid elimination by public vote.
There's drama, intrigue, backstabbing and fake tan aplenty. In other words, it's perfect summer fare.
The current series is due to conclude on July 30, but those who have missed out, as well as fans fearing the prospect of having nothing to do at 9pm every night, needn't worry. Love Island Australia will soon be here to fill the vacuum. The series aired down under earlier this summer, but Irish viewers will get a chance to watch it on 3e from Monday night.
How does it compare to its British counterpart? And are we in danger of overdoing it a little?
Much like the British series, Love Island Australia unfolds in a luxurious villa in Mallorca. The series is hosted by Sophie Monk - who was recently the titular bachelorette in The Bachelorette Australia - and narrated by our very own Eoghan McDermott. We're told that it's a "world away from the Aussie winter" to which I say: try an Irish winter and come back to me.
In the first episode, we meet 10 young singletons all desperate to find love... or at least a summer fling. The boys are classically buff while the girls are preened to perfection. In the real world, they toil as bikini models, rugby players, personal trainers and doggy day-care assistants. You know, classic Love Island professions.
They introduce themselves to viewers by saying things like, "My best feature physically is my butt and non-physically is my banter". So far, so familiar.
But while it may bear more than a passing resemblance to the British series on the surface, it is nonetheless extremely Australian. For one thing, they all have exotic names that are reminiscent of Home & Away characters. Grant, Eden, Cassidy, Tayla, Erin - it's not exactly Jack, Jack, Laura and Laura, is it?
They also pepper their sentences with Australian slang. For example, some of the contestants proudly refer to themselves as 'bogans,' which you can think of as their answer to 'chav' or 'redneck'. The word 'tradie' - short for 'tradesman' - is used frequently, with one contestant declaring, "Tradies get ladies".
Perhaps my personal highlight came when a doe-eyed model named Justin asked his date if she was vegan. When she responded that she was a pescatarian, he told her that he could relate because he was once a kangatarian. "So I used to only eat kangaroo and fish because kangaroos aren't farmed," he said in complete earnest. Only in Australia, eh?
The British series employs a snarky narrator in the form of Scottish comedian Iain Sterling, who provides witty commentary and occasionally scathing asides. In Love Island Australia, this role is fulfilled by RTÉ 2fm presenter McDermott.
At the beginning of the show, he quips that the producers originally wanted Australian presenter Karl Stefanovic, but settled on him after he agreed to "work for Guinness instead of money".
His cheeky, self-effacing sense of humour means he's tailor-made for the show and he slots into the role well. In fact, he proved to be such a hit that Elle Australia published a piece describing him as "the real winner of Love Island Australia". High praise indeed.
So is it worth a watch in its own right? Or is it merely a poor substitute for the real thing? A little bit of both. The first episode of Love Island Australia is certainly fun and juicy, but it's also a little messier and more brash than the UK version.
The premiere alone features lovers' tiffs, backroom scheming and a whole lot of girl-on-girl jealousy. Perhaps the edges will soften as the series progresses, but for now it has a little work to do before it catches up with the main event. Will I still watch it anyway? Ask me in two weeks when I'm suffering from Love Island withdrawals.
- Love Island Australia kicks off exclusively on 3e on Monday at 10.05pm