Despite the barrage of reality tv shows at our disposal these days, there’s always a vacancy for those looking for ones that don’t so much instigate drama but observe it. Love Village errs closer to a series such as Terrace House than Love Island, but with more drama than say something like Single’s Inferno. The latest Japanese reality series begins with a cast of four men and four women all 35 years old and above, sharing an old-fashioned style country home. The goal is to find a “last love,” someone they will spend the rest of their lives with. Separated from their phones and computers and with no television, they’re forced to interact for greater chances of sparks of romance.
Due to their bite-sized nature, the 30-minute Love Village episodes (short compared to most other reality TV) and the confines of the space the contestants are all sharing, we get personal insight alongside competing big personalities. As viewers, we explore bonds, tensions, and await the final decision as the episodes of Love Village build on each other until the final of the 18-episode Netflix series.
Here are three reasons why Love Village is worth checking out.
Watch Love Village because the eliminations are brutal
Despite the relatively wholesome nature of the series, the “eliminations” of sorts are particularly brutal. If a contestant has decided they’ve found the one they’re meant to leave with, they ring a bell, and then whoever has been chosen has a day to decide if they’re going to depart with the suitor or not. If they kiss, they leave the village together. If the one being propositioned says no, the proposer needs to leave the village alone.
It’s salt in the wound, poke in the eye level icy. Once gone, the participants who have left are replaced with one or two new ones to help shake up the dichotomy of the community they’ve built. But that severity of the punishment of not finding love is so deliciously thought up and cringe-inducing in execution that it’s shocking. The biggest argument in the first four episodes takes place between two people squabbling about whether or not one of them has one sleeping pill or two. This is a low-stakes show which allows the fate of those who “lost” to be all the more entertaining.
Watch Love Village for the frank conversations
Despite relying on the gimmick of this being a reality series for people not just in their 20s, it does suit the pacing of this type of show really well while offering up insights we don’t get on something like Love is Blind. There’s no performative gestures and the contests are refreshingly unpolished — we’re not watching any of them (well, aside from one) and thinking that they joined the show for the sake of fame and notoriety. And while likely that contributed to part of the willingness to be filmed, their every move telegraphed, the hat trick of the series is convincing us otherwise.
And it does because, again, there’s a rough around the edges quality not just to the contestants but the production as well. Contestants in their talking head segments speak directly to the filmmakers and we hear their voices as they ask follow-up questions. The film crew can be spotted in scenes where the renovations are done to the house they’re living in. It’s got the air of a show that’s figuring it all out as it goes along, mirroring the mentality of many of the contestants themselves.
Since their ages range in the first four episodes from 35 to 60, with many of them already having been married in the past, there’s a level of self-assuredness to them and a lack of censorship for weightier topics. While we all have been taught to crave a Hollywood romance, as we see each housemate explore their lives, it’s easy to become fans thanks to their honesty.
Watch for the hosts and their energy
At this point, it’s not unexpected for a group of panelists to operate both as an audience insert and offer comedy commentary. What’s interesting about Love Village is that there are only two of them. Each host of Love Village brings their own individual personalities more time to shine compared to their four to five, who all are vying for the biggest reaction of the wittiest jab.
The series has also made a clever move to have a small corner screen where we can see how the panelists are reacting in real-time to the actions while also allowing their commentary to run over conversations between contestants. There’s no sectioning off between segments where both contestants and panelists get their own separate time slots, but instead, both Becky and Atsushi Tamura, Japanese entertainers, deliver off-the-cuff reactions that accompany the visuals of what they’re reacting to.
With its eclectic group of contestants, energetic hosts, and rough around the edges production quality that lends itself to the perceived authenticity, Love Village is an engaging and fun watch. Without three episodes currently available, there’s still the sense of the series finding its identity beyond its logline. However, the group of individuals and the mix of colorful personalities and tones make for a light, escapist watch.
The first 15 episodes of Love Island are available now on Netflix, with new episodes airing every Tuesday.