Wild nights fire up the temptation lights

Villa life is not complete without nightly parties. The couples adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude as they party with the singles to distract themselves from the realities of their respective relationships and what may be waiting for them at the end of the show. // photo courtesy of USA Network

The ocean glimmers blue against burning sand. The waves are deceptively calm in advance of the storm to come. Four couples walk onto Maui for season five of “Temptation Island,” heads held high for their introductions. Not all of them will make it out as a couple, but those who do are forever changed.

Now produced by Banijay Studios, “Temptation Island” has passed through the hands of several companies since its original 2001 debut. Despite the tumultuous history of the show’s ratings, it has survived a two-year layoff and a complete revamp. 2019 saw the release of the newest version of the show and a total reset of the show’s seasons, making this year’s renewal season five. 

The premise of “Temptation Island” is reminiscent of the “catching a cheater” pranks of 2010s YouTube. Four heterosexual couples at a crossroads in their relationship come onto Temptation Island to test the strength of their bond. The couples are separated, with all the male members going to one villa filled with single women, and all the female members going to another filled with single men. 

Sometimes, a couple is recovering from one of them cheating; other times, a couple may be getting engaged soon and are testing each other’s loyalty. Despite the various reasons a couple may have for coming onto the island, the singles see them all the same: fresh meat. The single castmates’ sole job on the island is to “build a connection” with the newly separated couples. Whether that connection is mere seduction or something more is a matter of circumstance. 

To be on “Temptation Island,” a couple has to be having severe issues, hesitations or insecurities within their relationship. When you put them in an environment away from their significant other and surrounded by “temptation,” it creates a window unreplicable in the real world. Some couples escape the toxicity of their relationship and can break free by experiencing new relationships; other couples seize the first chance they can get to cheat. 

Throughout the show, there are numerous opportunities where the coupled women and men get to meet with the host, Mark Walberg (not to be confused with Mark Wahlberg), at events called “bonfires.” At these bonfires, the separated couples get to see video footage of what their other half has been up to in the villa. At the end of the experience, there is a “final bonfire” where the couple comes back together for the first time since the start of the show to make a final choice: leave the island alone, leave with a single person you have met on the island or leave the island together with your significant other. 

Season five brings with it an all-new cast and new events to spice up the show. This season, there is a massive party where all the singles and couples meet each other on the first night. In previous seasons, no parties or meetings occurred with the singles until the men and women of the couples were separated into different villas. 

Additionally, this season saw the introduction of the “temptation light,” a glowing orb atop a pedestal. The orb flashes red whenever a significant other cheats, without specification as to whose significant other cheated, creating confusion and tension between castmates. Lastly, significant others have the opportunity to send their partner a video message in the middle of the season. This season, however, the singles can also send the significant other in the other villa a video message, often stirring up drama and jealousy. 

The first couple is Marisela and Christopher. On the very first episode of the show, Christopher outs Marisela on national television as bisexual, which was unbeknownst even to her family. He uses this fact to connect with some of the single women at Marisela’s expense. Throughout the season, Marisela, once meek and mild, transforms into someone Chris can barely recognize. 

The second couple is Paris and Great, who are there  to test whether or not Great would cheat on Paris again. Both of their journeys are fiery, passionate and keep the audience on the edge of their seats waiting for the
next twist from left field. 

Third is couple Hall and Kaitlin, who are actually engaged and have been together for eight years —​​ far longer than any of the other contestants. They have split and gotten back together once in the past, after which Hall proposed to Kaitlin. While they seem assured, the island quickly works its way between them as Hall comes to
devastating revelations. 

Last is Vanessa and Roberto, who are struggling with the age gap in their relationship. Vanessa, who is much older than Rob, doubts his maturity and seeks to test his respect and loyalty for her. However, once they are separated, the controlling and toxic nature of their relationship comes to light. Furthermore, the reunion episode of the season overturns everything that the audience thought they knew as more clips and conversations are revealed for the first time.

While Temptation Island has been controversial in its interference in relationships, the couples that come on the show are seeking extreme change in the extreme manner of going on national television. At its core, “Temptation Island” embodies reality TV — the good, bad and ugly. 

With that, season five effectively builds on its foundation and makes for a truly infamous addition to the series. Whether you like reality TV or not, “Temptation Island” is far messier than its Netflix counterparts, keeping you hooked in a love-hate relationship with the series.