Ariana Madix Talks Hosting ‘Love Island USA’ as a Superfan: ‘Part of Me Wants to Jump in There’

Ariana Madix had no problem saying yes to hosting Season 6 of “Love Island USA” for Peacock, after all she’s been a franchise superfan for years.

“‘Love Island’ is my favorite show,” The “Vanderpump Rules” star told TheWrap. “I’ve always loved watching every single moment and I always feel like I can’t get enough.”

Madix wasn’t a total newcomer to the “Love Island” set either, as she popped into the Fiji villa for a guest cameo during Season 5. The reality star said dipping her toes into the “Love Island” world last season “set her up for success” this year, recalling the excitement of seeing the villa firsthand, “as opposed to always watching it on [her] television screen.”

“It’s better than I thought, because I … get to see everything play out in real time,” Madix said. “When it airs on television, [a discussion or conflict] might be five minutes, whereas it was maybe an hour in real life.”

The flip side to baring witness to the juicy drama in the villa, Madix now faces having to remain unbiased in house conflicts, with Madix pointing to Andrea Carmona’s recent exit and Rob Rausch’s near departure as a tricky moment to not get involved.

“It’s hard because part of me wants to jump in there sometimes, especially that night. But also as a host I have to be somewhat impartial, at least in front of them,” Madix said.

After Carmona was voted off the island earlier this week, Rausch immediately stood by her, saying he would also be leaving the show (he later decided to stay). It was then that Madix encouraged Rausch not to leave the house, which the host said reflected a two-prong approach.

“I don’t think that making a big decision like that in a highly emotional moment is the best thing to do … give it a couple of days,” Madix said, adding that Carmona is still in a hotel in Fiji. “Also, part of me felt like I wanted to call his bluff because I didn’t really think that he wanted to leave … Especially not with Aaron there.”

Below, Madix dishes on the most shocking moment she’s seen in the villa so far, reveals how “Love Island” compares to “Vanderpump Rules” and teases which couple could be tested in Casa Amor.

TheWrap: Ian Stirling has had some fun with you coming in as a host. How closely do you get to collaborate with Ian on the jokes he says about you or the cast in his commentary?

Ariana Madix: I don’t know any of that until after the fact, which is incredible. He just gets it. He’s always been one of my favorite parts of watching “Love Island,” whether it was UK and then when he moved over to USA. I think he’s the funniest person. Sometimes I have to rewind the scene because I’m still laughing at his joke and then I’m missing what is actually going on.

You’ve had a fair share of experience with reality shows and how they are produced. What’s something that surprised you about how “Love Island” works?

Something that is really interesting about “Love Island,” as opposed to “Vanderpump” or “Housewives” or something like that, is that there are no cameramen anywhere near the islanders. There are cameras set up throughout the entire villa, and then there are walls where they have sliders and there are cameramen behind the walls that can move, but the islanders never really see the cameramen and there are no areas of the house — aside from the obvious like the toilet or the shower — that are blindspots, and so you might think you’re having a secret conversation in a corner that’s not the case. They are really flies on the wall, getting to capture everything.

It’s mind-blowing to me that they take all of these hours upon hours of footage from all different angles, and then they edit it all together in less than a day.

When the first round of bombshells came in, you were visibly shook by how the ladies were kissing the men. What was it like to get a front seat to that drama?

Nicole and Andrea — they came in and they smashed it. They did exactly what you would want any bombshell to do coming into the villa. I know it’s silly, because they were kissing people who were blindfolded and handcuffed, but I was proud of them in a way, because I think that it takes a lot of guts and a lot of confidence. They were also in lingerie, and they just walked in there, and they owned that moment.

When you first met the islanders, you seemed so excited to get to know them personally. How did you craft that relationship with them?

I miss them every day that I’m not in there, and I don’t get to talk to them. As a fan of the show and as the host, I really do want good things for all of them. I feel like every girl and guy coming into that villa, for the most part, is there with the right intentions. Of course when you see that, you want to root for them, so I’m rooting for all of them and if we could get them all coupled up with the right person before they leave, that would be amazing.

What’s a moment that really shocked you as an observer so far?

This most recent elimination, not the elimination itself, but the reaction to that elimination when Aaron started freaking out. I was so glad that Liv was there to really stand up and put her foot down and stand on business. I could not believe just how emotional everybody was in the aftermath of that elimination.

Who is one islander you’ve been particularly surprised by and why?

Liv. When she initially came in as the very first bombshell all by herself, I think that there was a bit of hesitation from other islanders. It’s tough going through that. And as we’ve gotten to know Liv, I feel like she stands up for everybody and she is a very strong person. I’m loving watching her develop on this show as she gets closer to everyone there.

I’m always surprised at who’s picking who and how that’s going. They always keep me on my toes there.

What can you tease about the coming episodes? 

We do have Casa Amor coming up fairly soon. That’s usually something that happens about midseason. That will be very exciting. Who knows what’s going to happen? Kaylor and Aaron, I think, are the strongest couple right now and Casa Amor is something that has torn apart some of the strongest couples in previous seasons, so we will see.

You’d usually be filming “Vanderpump Rules” at this time. How does hosting “Love Island” compare to that experience?

Being in Fiji is very different from being in LA. It’s very lovely just getting to hang out. I spend a lot of time just going to the gym or laying out with whoever else has the day off at the pool, and we’re just really enjoying being here in Fiji. It’s always exciting when I’m getting to go into the villa. I can actually see the villa from my hotel, so I might go buy like a really powerful pair of binoculars and then I can spy on them all the time.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

New episodes of “Love Island USA” daily at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, except for Wednesdays, on Peacock.

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