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The Cabins: ITV’s new dating show is more than a Love Island knockoff

Though it has drawn comparisons with its better-known cousin, this wholesome series is more sweet than sexy, offering a markedly different kind of romance

Given how 2020 panned out, the bar for 2021 to prove itself marginally better is pretty low. And yet, less than a week in, it feels less like a clean slate, more like December the 36th. The country is back in lockdown, the high street continues to crumble (Topshop’s Oxford Street shop has closed its doors for good, Paperchase is on the brink of collapse) and people have even resorted to keeping their Christmas decorations up for a bit of much-needed cheer. And, in keeping with the Groundhog Day mood, yet another reality dating series graces our screens, in the form of ITV2’s The Cabins.

The show sees 12 singletons move into a cosy cabin in the Cotswolds with a potential partner, in the hopes that things heat up between them. Each morning, they must decide whether to check out separately and leave the premises or spend another night getting to know each other better. Despite being repeatedly referred to in the press as a “Love Island-style dating show”, it is not; its low-stakes dates and overnight format makes it feel far more akin to First Dates Hotel. There is no “pieing off” one contestant for another, no slo-mo surprise entrances as intimidatingly attractive new additions interrupt incumbent couples. Rather, The Cabins offers its own, specific type of wholesome wintery romance, quite different from the heat of a summer fling. It’s very much an alternative to Love Island, as opposed to its successor.

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