The LGBTQ+ singles of Lovestruck High are welcoming an inclusive new era for the reality dating genre.
Premiering 18 May on Prime Video, the Lindsay Lohan-narrated series follows a group of UK-based 20-somethings as they “try and find the one.”
Filmed in the UK, Lovestruck High pays homage to classic American high school movies of the 90s and 00s with its aesthetic, from the blue lockers, bleachers and yellow school bus that transports the students to and from school. The grand finale will see one couple walk away with a cash prize of £100,000. Twist alert: not all of them will make it as some of the students will face expulsion.
An official synopsis from the streamer reads: “These students won’t be going back to any school as they’re fulfilling their teenage fantasy and entering the nostalgic picture-perfect world of an American high school in their search for love. From taking a seat at the cafeteria, to homecoming, to cheer tryouts, Lovestruck High creates a perfect backdrop for finding friendship, flirting and falling in love.”
What separates Lovestruck High from other shows of its kind is that it’s inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community: eight out of 15 participants identify as queer which – in 2022 – is still extremely rare in any genre.
“Put any 15 people in a room, there’s going to be clashes. But, this is 15 diverse individuals of all sexualities and religious beliefs. It’s what we should be seeing!” says Junaid, the self-described “drama” of the season. Jody agrees, adding: “It’s so important for the younger generation to see that, just because you’re gay or bi, whatever, it doesn’t mean you can’t do things like this.”
While we eagerly await for all eight episodes to drop on Prime Video later this month, meet the eight LGBTQ+ cast members of Lovestruck High that are ushering in a more diverse and inclusive new era of television.
Basit (27, Dublin)
No stranger to TV appearances (he was a member of the Pit Crew on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and memorably featured as the object of The Vivienne and Monét X Change’s affection in that viral video), Basit is bringing the “chill vibes” and “funny lines” to Lovestruck High. For the London-based “Dublin boy”, it’s about damn time a dating show, particularly one within the UK, “tackles” LGBTQ+ issues and features more people of colour. “It’s not all about the straights!” he declares (can we get an amen?). “You can be non-binary, bi, gay and straight and they can all co-exist and still give the public what they want.” Basit admits that school wasn’t the “best time” for him, so he was intrigued at the chance to return and be the person he was always destined to be. “High school is like, ‘Is this where I peak, or is this where I learn to be stronger?’” he says. “Sometimes you get bullied and that makes you stronger, but I think Lovestruck High encompasses all of that.” Growing up in a Catholic school in Ireland, Basit, 27, was excited to explore classic high school traditions such as baseball and cheerleading, so don’t be surprised to see him shaking his… pom-poms.
Charlie (29, Surrey)
“Crying, drama,” Charlie says of what we can expect from her on Lovestruck High, before describing herself as a “very genuine, normal and down-to-earth person who went in there to find love and something they’ve never experienced before.” The property manager from Surrey is a musical theatre kid – her performing arts credits include Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and Whistle Down the Wind – so the American tradition she was most excited to participate in was, no shock here, cheerleading. “I used to watch Sabrina the Teenage Witch, so I genuinely thought that was what high school was like,” she laughs. The impact Lovestruck High will have on queer youth at home is not lost on Charlie, as she hails the series as the “first ever dating show” that embraces those within the LGBTQ+ community. “You’re gonna get a lot of school kids watching it,” she says. “When I was at school, you’d look at someone and think, ‘They can’t be gay.’ I used to think to myself, ‘You can’t be gay, you’re too fem.’ I want to show younger people that you can look like everyone else. I think it’ll be so refreshing for them to see.”
Dan (23, Bridgend)
If you’re wondering who would win the award for “Most Filthiest” on Lovestruck High, then look no further! “I watch it back and I’m like, ‘Fucking hell! I’m disgusting,’” says Dan. “The things I say are repulsive.” The 23-year-old, from Bridgend, says it’s an “honour” to be included on the show’s first ever season due to its inclusivity and diversity. “It didn’t surprise me,” he says of the groundbreaking LGBTQ+ line-up and the lack of homophobia in the narrative. “It was what I thought it’d be. Because why wouldn’t it be? That’s not the vibe we’re going for.” One aspect of Lovestruck High that Dan thinks will resonate with viewers is its portrayal of “normal, real life people” unlike other dating shows of its kind. “We’re not your standard Love Islanders, who are all fucking perfect,” he states. “We’re all perfect in our own way, but we’re normal people. This is going to be massive for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s going to be massive because we’ve got nothing like this.” When it comes to romance, Dan is looking for someone who is “fun” and makes him feel “comfortable” in his skin. His ideal man? Ben Fogle. “I think it’s his big nose,” he admits. “I have got a big nose but his is huge.”
Jess (24, London)
“It has a very British sense-of-humour,” Jess says of Lovestruck High, “which is what I think will really sell it.” Born and bred in London, the 24-year-old says you’d “never expect” to see someone like her on reality television because of her love for tattoos and fashion. “I like to be actively different,” says Jess, who is proud to be working class, Northern and to “wave the flag” for the pansexual community. Jess admits that her all-girls Catholic grammar school experience couldn’t have been more different from what’s depicted on Lovestruck High, describing it as a “straight and narrow” environment that would “measure our skirts with a ruler”. For Jess, the reality show allowed to be the “artistic, free-flowing” person she should’ve been in her youth. As for how it will impact the LGBTQ+ community, the fashion creative says Lovestruck High has the potential to see a “real change” in the queer movement and “open up a really amazing, forward-thinking society”. “I feel like with other shows, you’re either straight or you’re not,” she continues. “I’m a firm believer that sexuality is a spectrum and it doesn’t matter where you fall on that. If you’re happy, why does it matter what anyone else should think of it?”
Jody (28, Bolton)
Jody reveals that she’s been turned down by “multiple channels” in the past for dating shows because she’s a lesbian (sigh). “You’ve got things like Love Island, but where would I fit into that?” the 28-year-old explains. “It’s so important for the younger generation to see that, just because you’re gay or bi, whatever, it doesn’t mean you can’t do things like this. When I was younger and watching things on TV, I thought I’d never be able to do it.” The salon owner says Lovestruck High will be “amazing” for the LGBTQ+ community as it “normalises” the queer experience, rather than depicting them as ‘other’. “It shouldn’t be a shock to see two women or two men holding hands walking down the street,” says Jody, who’s excited for round two at prom after her own celebration was ruined by the death of Michael Jackson. “I thought I was going to start crying when I was there speaking about all [of the representation]. With all those cameras… so embarrassing!” Expect the Bolton native to deliver the drama, because she describes herself as “fiery, feisty and hot headed”. “I definitely don’t hold back,” she says, before dramatically reiterating: “I do not hold back.”
Junaid (26, Essex)
“You can expect tears, tantrums and a lot of dramatics!” laughs Junaid. “I’m just a very honest and direct person. My whole tagline is that I’m a bitch with a heart of gold.” With a personality that could rival some of the most iconic of Essex divas, the runway-ready 26-year-old isn’t afraid to ruffle some feathers during his time on Lovestruck High. “I can be such a bitch but when you get to know me, I’m actually such a lovely person,” he says. As one of the first shows of its kind, the social media influencer praises the Prime Video title for mixing “sexualities, ethnicities and religions,” and, hailing from a Muslim background, it’s important for Junaid to be the mainstream representation he failed to see growing up. “There are people like me out there and we should be proud and embrace it,” he says. “Put any 15 people in a room, there’s going to be clashes. But, this is 15 diverse individuals of all sexualities and religious beliefs. It’s what we should be seeing!” Junaid, who’s seeking someone with “good hygiene” and a “decent job”, was excited to return to school – especially an American high school – to live his High School Musical fantasy. “I think it was the little things like homecoming, that’s a tradition we never do in the UK,” he says. “So, it was really interesting – to say the least!”
Sin (24, Northolt)
Northolt-based Sin describes herself as a “fun, bubbly character” who likes to bring “smiles to people’s faces”. The 24-year-old, who currently works as a security officer, was excited to acclimate herself into the sports element of Lovestruck High, from baseball to dodgeball and basketball and, of course, prom. “What differs us from other shows is the fact that we are LGBTQ+ friendly,” Sin says of why she applied. “It was just lovely to know that we’re not the outcasts. We definitely blended in. Everyone got along, whether straight, bi, gay or lesbian. It was just wonderful.” Due to its inclusivity, Sin expects Lovestruck High to elicit a “big, positive response” from queer viewers at home. “I hope it brings confidence to them, to know that they can go from high school to bigger things,” she explains, “and to know that they’re accepted.” If viewers at home look up to Sin as a role model, particularly those within the queer female community, then she’s all for it. “I like to make you feel comfortable,” she adds. “Slide in the DM’s and ask me these questions! I might have a few followers going up, but I’m still Sin from West London. I’m still normal like everyone else. I feel like being that spokesperson for lesbian, especially Black lesbians from the Caribbean, because we’re not usually represented.”
Theo (21, Bristol)
Although Theo welcomed the LGBTQ+ representation on Lovestruck High and how being “white was the minority,” the “biggest shock” for him was having to compete against other queer men for the same love interest. “I thought I’d be the only gay to walk in and have all the attention on me,” says the 21-year-old. “Then I was like, ‘Hang on a minute, I’m going to have some competition!’” Theo was inspired to audition for the series because of its inclusion, saying he would’ve felt more comfortable in his identity as a gay man if he could’ve seen LGBTQ+ people on-screen as a struggling teen. “I’ve seen it with my own eyes, how I can inspire the young gay boys and young Black kids who don’t feel comfortable with themselves. We’re out here. We’re not being shut away anymore, so shows like this are really going to teach people how to treat gay people,” he defiantly states. “I even managed to educate [the straight cast] on gay lifestyle, such as Max with bottom and top. He had no idea what that was!” As for what viewers can expect from Lovestruck High, Theo – the catchphrase-r of the season – says drama is “inevitable,” adding: “Some possible pies. There might be some pies in there.”