Love Island? More like Friendship Island. The third season of Love Island USA ended with a whimper instead of a bang. What should’ve been a summer of tawdry romances, scandalous dating drama, and fame-seeking singles discovering true love turned into a lackluster month of islanders (and producers) making one bad move after another. Based on all three seasons of Love Island USA, the third season was by far the worst. Why did it end up this way? Love Island USA season 3 had all the elements for greatness, but it failed to deliver the Love Island experience.
For the third season, Love Island USA traveled back to a tropical destination. The first season was set in Fiji while the second season found its home on top of a casino on the Las Vegas strip—the casino was due to COVID-19 restrictions (as compared to Big Brother 22 which had restrictions placed in the house). The islanders this time went to Hawaii, which provided great backdrops for all the romantic shenanigans. The Villa looked gorgeous with its blue ocean, roaring waterfall, and tropical greenery. Plus, the lavish home had plenty of space for the islanders to move around in and discover love; it didn’t feel as confined as the first two seasons.
The problem, however, was that it rained A LOT; the third season had even more rain than the first season! It’s not fun watching islanders get drenched with rain during challenges and wearing swimwear in a torrential downpour. The second season had the perfect setting since it was sunny every day. Love Island should consider sticking to Las Vegas or shift its schedule earlier to avoid the rainy seasons. No more rainy months! The depressing weather made the season look grey and put a damper on the festivities since everything seemed washed out.
The islanders for Love Island USA season 3 paled in comparison to the first two seasons. Specifically, can we all agree the second season had the best cast by far? It’s hard to compete against a strong group like that in the following year. There were some standouts from the group, like Cashay, Javonny, Aimee, Florita, Kyra, and Trina to name a few. Even islanders who spent a short time in the Villa, like Leslie and Genevieve, had the elements to spice up the Villa. Though, we barely got any time to meet these islanders because they kept getting cut and all the attention got placed on the OG players. Love Island USA suffered (once again) by its OG islanders curse.
Hear me out: the issue with a viewer voting-based show like Love Island is that those who enter the Villa on Week 1 (even more so on Day 1) have a higher chance to win the game and hold the greatest amount of power. Viewers learn about these islanders more than anyone else—the story shapes around them, these islanders develop friendships faster, and they band together to keep their group in unless a twist forces them. Love Island USA season 3 was no exception. So, we ended up in cases where the average lifespan of a new islander lasted around 5-6 days. It’s not exciting to see new islanders dumped one after the other without giving a chance, and by the time the final week hits, we’re only left with OGs and the few straggling new players thrown in at the end. Come on, who do you think would win in that case?
With the same islanders staying in, the storylines of Love Island USA fell into a never-ending loop of sameness. The Cashay/Cinco/Trina love triangle was fun at first due to the drama of Cinco’s uncertainty, but it shouldn’t have lasted for three-quarters of the season. Throwing Charlie, Leslie, and Lei-Yen into the mix only delayed the inevitable—this storyline became emotionally exhausting. The same goes for Will’s shady uncertainty with dating Kyra, Jeremy surprisingly avoiding every elimination, Olivia’s blatant dating misfires (we’ll get into this later), Josh and Shannon flexing their superiority, and a list of other smaller plots thrown in to bide the time. Everything dragged on—it wasn’t fun or interesting anymore. The third season of Love Island USA was boring, and that’s the worst thing you can be for a guilty pleasure series like Love Island.
What added to the misfires were the bad twists and dumpings that got played at the worst times. The islanders proved time and time again that they shouldn’t be given the power to decide the dumpings (see above for control of power). If viewers are given the power to vote which couple/islander they want out of the Villa, those players should get the chop. What’s the point of giving viewers the vote if it means nothing? The islanders have their own self-interests and choose the option that works best for them. Islanders like Jeremy or Olivia would’ve gotten eliminated weeks earlier had the final decision not reverted to the players; instead, the OGs continued to keep their group in, which continued the cycle yet again.
The only twist that worked for Love Island USA was Casa Amor. This twist is amazing and should return every year as it creates plenty of drama and causes ripple effects throughout the season. For example, no one will ever forget Johnny’s indiscretion during the second season, and this time, it was Will nearly dumping his relationship with Kyra for new islander Flo. Casa Amor gives every player a chance to find love … or it exposes cracks in the seams for some relationships. (This twist is *chef’s kiss*.)
At the end of the day, Love Island USA is about finding true love; some couples walked away in a relationship or flirtation, but none seemed like they’ll last long outside of the Villa. This season ended with friendships, shaky relationships, or couples pretending to be in love to win the money. Josh and Shannon abruptly quit due to a family emergency, and if they hadn’t left, they most likely would’ve won due to their strong romance. If they want any shot of lasting, Shannon needs to trust Josh and stop villainizing everything he does—they have different love languages, and if they can’t communicate, the resentment will destroy their foundation. Cinco and Cashay left the Villa separately, but they’ve since reconnected outside in the real world. Cinco needs to be honest and stick with Cashay if he wants the romance to work; the indecision won’t fly outside of the game.
Will and Kyra, on the other hand, don’t seem like they’ll last. Kyra wants to be in the relationship with Will, but there’s something off about Will that feels sketchy, like how he delayed becoming Kyra’s boyfriend for weeks. His decision felt more like a stunt. I wish the couple the best and hope everything works out. If Will had been more honest and upfront with Kyra in the Villa, they probably would’ve won instead of landing in second place. The loss falls more in Will’s court since Kyra stood by Will and believed in their love.
When it came to the winners, can we all agree that Olivia and Korey are the worst Love Island winners from the franchise? This romance isn’t going to last. Not at all. Olivia had her sights set on other people all season and made baffling decisions that went against her romance goals. Like, who comes back from Casa Amor single when they entered single?! Korey, on the other hand, was unlucky in love because no one reciprocated his feelings. By the time they got together, it came across more as a strategic play—Korey was a known favorite of the audience and Olivia needed a partner who would keep her in. Plus, since both were OGs, their chances of winning skyrocketed by being together. Had Cashay not sent Cinco home, Josh/Shannon walked from the game, or Will self-sabotaging his chances with Kyra, Olivia and Korey wouldn’t have won. And, with the finals having two newbie pairs, they didn’t have much competition. Happy their friendship got rewarded, but it’s not a satisfying finish.
Love Island USA Season 3 was a dull and frustrating summer that squandered the potential it had. Having a gorgeous backdrop like Hawaii should’ve delivered peak Love Island shenanigans to tempt the islanders, but instead fell into the same traps that dragged on the same plots. And the baffling choices by the islanders and production didn’t help to resolve the issues. Hopefully, next season fixes these problems because we’ve seen what Love Island USA could be—the second season was perfection, and even the first season had a little fun to it. For the most part, the third season wasn’t it.
Love Island USA airs weekly on CBS and is available to stream on Paramount+.