The Cabins debuted on ITV2 last night, delivering a brand new dose of reality TV in an attempt to keep us somewhat entertained for 10 days.
The show, which was immediately branded as the alternative to a winter edition of Love Island, throws singletons immediately into living together in a dreamy and remote log cabin, equipped with a hot tub. After the first 24 hours, they then have to decide whether they want to spend more time together or call it off.
Any new dating programme launched on ITV will forever walk in the shadow of Love Island – and The Cabins is no different. While the broadcaster has tried in the past at replicating a dating series that will rank as highly (remember Survival Of The Fittest?), nothing will quite compare. And sadly, The Cabins risks being chucked in the pile of failed attempts.
One major hang-up from the programme is the unnecessary amount of contact with the outside world. Throughout the first episode, the contestants were seen making on the sly phone calls to friends – a la Channel 4’s First Dates – to spill the tea on their blind date and to share where exactly their head is at. On top of that, they were also texting their loved ones while on the date. In one instance, one of the contestants, Tom, reached out to message his mum. Where’s the etiquette?!
The texts pop up on the screen like whenever one contestant reaches out to another on The Circle, or when Love Island producers initiate flirty games or reveal shock dumpings. This, to be honest, all seemed a bit naff. Surely The Cabins would have showcased more character by banning communication altogether? Doesn’t being locked in a cabin with a stranger without access to a phone have more of an edge to it? No?
The saving grace of The Cabins is that it welcomes queer contestants. Finally. Love Island has fallen short over the years by keeping the series heteronormative despite the many pleas from its LGBT+ audience. In 2018, bosses said that they were ‘open’ to creating an LGBT+ version of the series, but explained that it would be difficult as every contestant would have to fall somewhere on the Kinsey Scale to make it work. (Don’t ask us why they couldn’t just have a villa full of lesbians and bisexual women).
The Cabins, however, is different because just two contestants are housed in each of the three cabins. Last night, the show introduced same-sex couple Charlotte and Sarah, who instantly had viewers fawning as they fell asleep holding hands. And to top it all off, ITV was immediately praised for its diversity and inclusion. So, as a queer viewer of reality television, can we have more of this please?
The Cabins is certainly no Love Island, and sadly it doesn’t even come close.
The only way I reckon it would be brought back for a second series is if the pandemic takes Love Island off the air for a second winter running, leaving producers with little option to fill the void.
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