Like the leaves changing and Starbucks cups and wardrobe shifts, I count on Love Island to tell me what time of year it is. Oh, a new group of sexy singles? It must be summertime! However, the last season of the UK dating reality show we got was Winter 2020 (Season 6, though their first winter adventure in South Africa), just before coronavirus hit big, and the next one we’ll get is (fingers and toes crossed) not until this upcoming summer. Nearly a year and a half without those villa dwellers is way too long to wait. Though there are some bright sides here: 1) I used this time to watch past seasons I had missed and 2) there is now a replacement for American audiences to hold us over (well, at least for a little while).
Enter Celebs Go Dating. If like me, you follow former Love Island contestants on Instagram, you’ve surely heard of this series. Many former Islanders sign up to do this subsequent reality dating series after their villa couples crash and they need to keep that boohoo sponsorship going. And now that there are three seasons available on Hulu, I’m pleased to inform you that it will fill that hole in your heart and your binge-watching routine.
Celebs Go Dating has many of the elements we all love about Love Island. Firstly: former Love Island contestants. Seasons 6-8 are currently available on Hulu and feature Georgia Steele, Megan Barton Hanson, Jack Fowler, Jack Fincham, Amy Hart, and Josh Ritchie as they attempt to date “on the outside.” The show features Paul Carrick Brunson and Anna Williamson as “dating agents” who help their celebrity clientele as they search for the perfect partner. And I love them. I will listen to anything Paul says and I want to be friends with Anna. But beyond that, they seem to actually care and want the best for their clients. Obviously this is a TV show, but they dole out advice in a way that is warm and helpful and not shameful. Plus, I dare you not to get a lil misty-eyed when these public figures open up about their private lives: their childhoods, their dating hurdles, their broken hearts. There’s a relatability there and an overwhelming urge to root for them to find love and not just mock them.
Similar to Love Island, before I pressed play on this one, yes, I expected it to be trash, albeit the kind of trash that I love. And is it? Sure! But there’s also something really heartwarming about watching this bunch be honest and vulnerable. Letting someone watch and judge your dates is so personal, and I enjoyed watching these dates more here than other similar shows. Again, maybe because we feel like we know these people or because it doesn’t feel creepily voyeuristic, but I found it to be less about the cringe aspects and more about the hopefulness that they find a match.
Another added bonus of this show is the voiceover work, done here by comedian Rob Beckett. There’s even more of him than we get from Iain Stirling, but his audio interjections give the show a whole lot of humor and a lightheartedness during moments that are already unquestionably silly and even a bit ridiculous.
While Love Island truly cannot return soon enough for me, I’m so glad to get a glimpse at Celebs Go Dating after hearing about it for so long. If you also fancy yourself a connoisseur of British reality shows, several cast members from The Only Way Is Essex and Made In Chelsea, as well as other UK celebs make appearances on the show, which is often worth watching for the accents alone. Also, Hulu, let this serve as your annual reminder to please bring Made in Chelsea back to your platform, we (just me) are begging you! But for now, I will be turning to Celebs Go Dating to take my mind off of the world and instead focus it on these very pretty, very famous figures that also deserve love. The show will make you think about your own relationships, but in a way that feels practical and isn’t disrupted by neverending shots of bikinis. Plus, each season is comprised of 20 nearly hour-long episodes so that serves as a solid weekend’s plans sorted. Especially now, while we can’t really go anywhere, we can happily watch Celebs Go Dating.