12 Best Dating Shows To Fill That Love Island Shaped Hole This Summer

(Photo: Netflix/Kanal 4/Hayu)

(Photo: Netflix/Kanal 4/Hayu)

(Photo: Netflix/Kanal 4/Hayu)

After a series that brought us romance, mayhem and a new reality TV queen in Ekin-Su, Love the island is now over for another year.

Fortunately, fans won’t be waiting too long for the next series, with winter Love Island returning early next year, ahead of a regular summer season in its usual slot.

And while that’s all well and good for 2023 – how about right now, right?

Well, for anyone who’s been wondering how to plug that massive island-shaped hole in your life, we’ve got you covered.

Here are our top picks, and where to find them…

1. Too Hot To Handle – Netflix

(Photo: Aline Arruda/Netflix)

(Photo: Aline Arruda/Netflix)

(Photo: Aline Arruda/Netflix)

Too Hot To Handle has all the basic elements of Love Island – beautiful people in a beautiful location looking for a summer romance – but with one crucial difference… they’re not allowed to have sex, or even kiss. And if they do, they will immediately dock money from the group prize pool.

During the episode Islanders contestants are put through their paces in a series of challenges meant to test their patience, but also help them make stronger connections in the real world (with mixed results, obv).

2. Love Is Blind – Netflix

(Photo: Netflix)

(Photo: Netflix)

(Photo: Netflix)

Love Is Blind was the reality show that got everyone talking when it launched in 2020, and if you decided not to follow it at the time because you felt like you’d missed the bandwagon, now might be the perfect time to put get into it.

The US series – which sees total strangers get engaged after only talking through a wall – lived up to the hype and we couldn’t help but watch as the couples moved in together, met each other’s families and dealt with the usual trials and tribulations of a usual relationship. Except, you know, they didn’t actually know each other.

Stick around for the end because the episode with all the weddings, not to mention the subsequent reunion special, is as explosive as you might expect.

3. Married at First Sight UK – All 4

(Photo: Kanal 4)

(Photo: Kanal 4)

(Photo: Kanal 4)

And if Love Is Blind piqued your interest in complete strangers bonding, but you prefer your TV a little closer to home, then Married At First Sight might be for you. The E4 series sees complete strangers being lined up by a panel of ‘experts’ and then walking down the aisle minutes after meeting for the first time.

Cameras then follow them for the first four weeks of their married life, after which they decide whether to continue their relationship or head to the divorce courts. It’s as angry as it sounds, and while it may lack some of the glamor of Love Island, it certainly delivers on the drama front.

And once you’ve wondered about the UK version, be sure to check out the somehow-even-more-outrageous Aussie edition.

4. Back with the ex – Netflix

(Photo: Netflix)

(Photo: Netflix)

(Photo: Netflix)

As the name suggests, Australian reality show Back With The Ex (from the creators of Instant Hotel, no less) follows a series of couples who were once in a romantic relationship and for whatever reason decide to give things another go. Will they be able to move on from the past, or will past problems resurface?

You can probably guess to be honest, but it’s definitely worth watching anyway.

5. Five dates a week – all 4

(Photo: Kanal 4)

(Photo: Kanal 4)

(Photo: Kanal 4)

We were completely hooked on Five Guys A Week (as it was then known) when it debuted during the pandemic, with a woman opening up her home to five complete strangers, who move in with her when she chooses just one of them to start a relationship with.

In the days that follow, she sends three of them packing – brutal! – until she makes the final decision… after a sit-down meal with both suitors at the same time, of course.

Channel 4 has since adapted the show to make it even more inclusive, hence the new name, but we promise it’s still just as dramatic.

6. First dates – all 4

(Photo: First Dates)

(Photo: First Dates)

(Photo: First Dates)

If you’re in need of cozy viewing, First Dates always provides the best, and while watching it every night this summer probably won’t provide the shock value that Love Island provides, a brief moment of escapism in these trying times.

If you still need some sun, the First Dates Hotel spin-off series is also available.

7. Dating: No filter – Hayu

(Photo: Hayu)

(Photo: Hayu)

(Photo: Hayu)

Alternatively, if the part of Love Island you’re going to miss most is Iain Stirling’s commentary, then this could be the show for you.

Essentially a cross between Gogglebox and First Dates, the show sees pairs of stand-up comedians sit down to watch footage of couples meeting for the first time, offering their own commentary throughout. Expect big reactions, funny chatter and an awkward moment or two.

8. Celebrities go on dates – all 4 of them

(Photo: Kanal 4)

(Photo: Kanal 4)

(Photo: Kanal 4)

Celebrity reality shows are a dime a dozen, and with so many of them on the go at any given time (usually with the same cast of rotating contestants, too), it’s easy for one or two to slip through the net.

If you dismissed Celebs Go Dating as just another throwaway series, then you might have heard that over the years the dating agency has opened its doors to stars such as Gemma Collins, Dean Gaffney, Alison Hammond, Kerry Katona, Mutya Buena and Lady Colin Campbell ( and they all behaved exactly as you want them to) will change your mind.

9. The Bee Life – Hayu

(Photo: E!)

(Photo: E!)

(Photo: E!)

One aspect of Love Island (and other dating shows, to be fair) that has been repeatedly criticized is the absence of any contestants from the LGBTQ+ community. Drag Race favorite and Celebrity Big Brother winner Courtney Act attempted to rectify this in 2018 with her unique reality series The Bi Life, which saw a host of bisexual and pansexual contestants looking for love in the Barcelona sun.

Not only did it promote queer visibilityit was also very entertaining and we’re always happy to have some more of Courtney looking extremely glamorous on our screens.

10. Flirting Dance – All 4

(Photo: Kanal 4)

(Photo: Kanal 4)

(Photo: Kanal 4)

More wholesome content for fans of shows like First Dates and Strictly Come Dancing, Flirty Dancing really puts the couple’s chemistry to the test. Each of the couples is taught half of a dance routine by Diversity and Dancing On Ice star Ashley Banjo. The first time they meet, they must perform it together.

Yes, it’s totally cheesy, but watch the clip below and tell us you don’t already want to see the rest:

11. Eating With My Ex – BBC iPlayer

But if what you’re really going to miss about Love Island is all the cringeworthy moments, you won’t get any judgment from us. Instead we present the BBC’s Eating With My Ex. The show does exactly what it says on the tin, reuniting former couples for a final meal where they get some things off their chests. It’s basically First Dates, but with all the hard bits magnified.

12. Love Island USA – ITV Hub

(Photo: ITV)

(Photo: ITV)

(Photo: ITV)

Of course, if you don’t feel ready to give up on Love Island for the year… then don’t!

A brand new season of the show’s American counterpart has just started, with new episodes airing every night on ITVBe. Alternatively, if you’re interested in seeing how our cousins ​​across the pond take on the Love Island experience but don’t feel like tuning in every night, there’s always the option to catch up on the ITV Hub.

As if that wasn’t enough, BritBox has every previous series of the British show waiting for you to dive back in, meaning you can re-watch all your favorite moments, from Camilla teaching Johnny about feminism to the blossoming romance between Jack and Dani—not to mention Georgia’s priceless reaction when Josh returned from Casa Amor.

Good viewing!

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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