Love Island‘s Season One Finale Confirmed: I Loved Love Island, and I Don’t Know Why

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Love Island

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Almost exactly one month ago, Love Island, the U.K. television phenomenon starring the hottest people you’ve never heard of, crossed the pond to wade into the United States’ already crowded reality TV cesspool. With a $30 million budget and 10 new future guest bartenders, an entire nation pondered: would the five-nights-a-week brain worm make its way deep into the skulls of American viewers?

A few weeks, a dozen useless physical challenges, and an influx of moody, slowed down covers of 2012’s biggest radio hits later, I have to admit I’ve been infected. I had more self respect than to have tuned in live every Monday through Friday. But it was something to put on before bed, and a show I found myself catching up on a few episodes at a time during weekend downtime. My girlfriend says we’ve been ‘hate watching’ it. I’m not so sure. But, to channel a phrase every Islander utters nine times an episode, here’s where “my head is at.” I loved Love Island, and I don’t know why.

I could sit here and try to dig deep. I could type through it and hopefully land on a great response when people ask me why I’ve stayed up late making sure I’m caught up each weekend. But deep isn’t really Love Island‘s thing. So in true Islander form, maybe I can chalk it up to “looking for a real connection” with a television program that doesn’t last much longer than the finale. Or maybe this imperfect TV turbine that effortlessly sucked me came with a significant benefit: Not once was a political conversation aired—it was a genuine escape. Who among us doesn’t need some form of that right now?

CBS's "Love Island" - Season One
Love Island season one winners Zac Mirabelli and Elizabeth Weber.

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Speaking of the finale, season one’s winners are Elizabeth and Zac—a model from Detroit and grocery store clerk from Chicago respectively. If real love exists in the Fijian villa, I guess they really did get closest to it. These two “coupled” up early and never wavered, becoming official after two weeks. Their parents, we learn during the penultimate episode’s surprise visits, have the same wedding anniversary! Somewhere outside the villa, two producers just chest bumped and cracked open a couple of White Claws. The parental visits episode was probably the first time I actually checked my skepticism. Most of the parents—especially those of our winning lovers—seemed so…genuinely supportive? If someone’s mother can get on board with this, how could I not believe.

Love Island
Love Island finalists Ray Gantt and Caroline “Caro” Viehweg.

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Following the final four couples’ meet-and-greets came time for America to vote for the winners. Elizabeth and Zac’s consistency reigned supreme as the villa prepared for its next AirBnB guests. America’s decision was pretty expected. Dylan and Alexandra were the only other couple who had a shot. Ray’s mom wasn’t crazy about Caro, though they do seem likely to continue what they’ve got going beyond the island. (For what it’s worth, Ray was probably my favorite islander of all.) And Weston and Emily never quite got there. And so despite a pretty anticlimactic finale—which they tried to make climactic with dramatic music, long pauses, and one last slo-mo dance sequence—Zac and Elizabeth ended up with $100 thousand in their pockets.

Love Island, lucky for us, will return for a second season. And I can’t guarantee I won’t be tuning in. But God as my witness, if season two has another couples game where people have to spit chewed up food into each other’s mouth, I’m just going to re-watch Breaking Bad again.

Ben Boskovich is the Managing Editor of Esquire.com, where he also writes about style.