The Latest Love Island USA Drama Was More Thrilling Than House of the Dragon

The Love Island USA villa has been thrown into complete chaos following a boldly political dumping.

LOVE ISLAND USA -- Episode 612 -- Pictured: (l-r) Robert Rausch, Andrea Carmona
Photo: Ben Symons | Peacock

This article contains spoilers for Love Island USA season 6 episode 12.

For a show that routinely features half-naked hotties grinding on each other, Love Island USA is a strangely wholesome experience. That’s because, while I can’t speak for the original U.K. version, the contestants in the U.S. edition often make their way through the series in a surprisingly civil manner.

As its name suggests, Love Island drops six attractive young men and six attractive young women into a villa on a tropical island to kiss one another. After a summer of games, periodic “recouplings,” and intermittent eliminations, the last couple standing receives $100,000 and the honor of having found their soulmate. Like all dating reality competitions, Love Island USA is designed to generate drama among its telegenic players. Truth-or-dare style games encourage contestants to talk shit about one another. New “bombshell” contestants are introduced to catch someone’s wandering eye.

Interestingly, however, these dramatic ploys from the show’s producers are rarely successful. Through five seasons now, Love Island USA contestants frequently resist the allure of conflict. When given the opportunity to eject one of their own from the island, they rely on a strict interpretation of the show’s rules (who is sincerely looking for love) rather than indulging petty grievances built up over weeks of living in close quarters.

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That all changed with the show’s brilliant June 23 episode. In season 6 episode 12, four female contestants – nay, four heroes – decided that they didn’t care who was really there for the right reasons. They had a shot to enact sweet retribution and they took it, making for legitimately thrilling reality television. Allow us to explain.

In the final minutes of episode 12, the show’s host, Ariana Madix, arrives unexpectedly and makes a grim announcement. America has been voting on its favorite couples and the three couples who received the least amount of votes will be at risk of immediate elimination. The couples receiving the fewest votes were:

JaNa Craig and Hakeem White – Not into each other at all. A marriage of convenience.
Nicole Jacky and Kendall Washington – Seemingly on solid footing before Nicole kissed someone else unbeknownst to Kendall.
Andrea Carmona and Rob Rausch – Blissfully happy. Everything’s great!

As Love Island USA usually does, it decided to leave the fate of the eliminated players in the rest of the islanders hands. Unlike in season’s past though, which had the boys pick which girl to eliminate and vice versa, this season forced the girls to pick a girl to eliminate and the boys to pick a boy. The boys went for the obvious choice of elimination with Hakeem, as he was a relative newcomer to the villa and hadn’t been successful in finding a love connection. The girls, however, went with the absolute nuclear option. After much deliberation, the decision-making panel consisting of Serena Page, Leah Ketab, Kaylor Martin, and Liv Walker stood up and announced that they would be sending Andrea home. The resulting chaos was near-immediate.

Andrea started to weep as though she had been stabbed. Rob experienced the full spectrum of possible human emotions within a five-second span. All the boys flew to their feet and began to drape themselves over Rob, begging him to stay on the show rather than leave with his love connection in protest. Then the yelling began.

“I’m sorry I fucking found a connection. It’s just not fair!” Andrea sobbed.
“She’s got one of the strongest connections in here, why would you knock Andrea out?” Aaron Evans, who has nothing to do with this whole thing, cried.
“There was a logical decision [to make] and I think that was an illogical one.” newest contestant Miguel Harichi said.

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Here’s the thing though. Sending Andrea home was a logical decision for Serena, Leah, Kaylor, and Liv. It’s just that the logic behind it wasn’t “who deserves the chance to stay?” but rather “how can we enact sweet revenge?”

Of the core four decision-makers, two – Leah and Liv – have some serious beef with Andrea’s partner Rob. Leah was originally paired with Rob and received several assurances that their bond was strong. But not only did Rob have eyes for Liv when she arrived on the show, he eventually spurned both Liv and Leah for newcomer Andrea in humiliating fashion.

Playing the game of musical chair couplings is par for the course on this show. It’s expected that islanders will occasionally get to know one another outside of their own pairing, in an attempt to find the best match. When Andrea arrived to the island, however, Rob clearly preferred her to Leah but strung Leah on just long enough to not cause a scene.

Of course, Rob went ahead and caused a scene anyway. When Leah fairly pointed out that Rob seemed way more invested in Andrea, he put on what can only be described as a masterpiece performance in gaslighting. He started to weep, claimed they weren’t compatible sexually, and then ran off to be alone in the villa’s pool, hiding underneath a structure so no one could see him. When he went back to talk to Leah he cried some more and chastised her for not caring about his feelings. Completely taken aback, Leah ended up apologizing to him for reasons that aren’t even clear. Naturally, at the next recoupling, Rob left Leah for the opportunity to couple with Andrea, waiting until the very last possible moment for maximum embarrassment.

Now unenthusiastically coupled up with Connor Newsum, Leah clearly still had vengeance against Rob and Andrea on her mind. Serena, Liv, and Kaylor, bless them, were more than happy to go along.

Fans occasionally joke that Love Island should be called “Friendship Island,” as the relationships the islanders build up with their same-sex buddies is often more rich and enduring than their love connections. Even with that in mind though, contestants still at least usually pretend to abide by the spirit of the game when making elimination decisions. In seasons’ past, JaNa would have been the obvious choice for elimination, even if she was close friends with all of the girlies. This time around though, Serena, Liv, Kaylor, and Leah opted to enact a strict “bros over hoes” protocol that led to some absolutely immaculate reality TV drama.

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byu/loveislandusa from discussion

For years, Love Island USA fans have been waiting for the islanders realize that the rules are made up and nothing matters. Nothing in the Love Island rulebook says you can’t build a platonic alliance via the power of friendship and use it to enact rhetorical violence upon your enemies. Will sending Andrea home get Liv, Serena, Kaylor, or Leah any closer to winning Love Island USA season 6 and securing $100,000? Probably not, but it had to feel incredibly good in the moment.

New episodes of Love Island USA premiere every day but Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET throughout the summer on Peacock in the U.S.