You either watch it or you laugh at people who do. You’re either addicted or you avoid people who are. Love Island. Wow.
Up until this year, I wouldn’t have been caught dead watching it. I put it in that thrashy reality box where no self-respecting, intelligent person would lower their eyes to let such visions cross their peepers. What a waste of time, I scoffed. Losers!
Then, recently, in between flipping between cartoons (because we are held to channel ransom in this house by a three year old) I heard a discussion on Loose Women where the guests talked about how they’d never watch it, but after watching a few minutes for ‘research purposes’, they were hooked.
Maybe I’d like it, I thought. If these articulate women, with brains and sass say it’s ok, it must be.
Lads it is more than ok. It is an education.
If you’re as old as I am, you’ll remember when Big Brother first hit our screens. I remember my friend telling me about the concept first and we marvelled at the idea that anyone could watch normal people living in a box all day. Who would want to watch that? we sneered. Well the answer is – everyone.
Love Island reminds me of how I felt when I first started watching Big Brother. I’m not only addicted. I think about these people during the day. I actively go through scenarios in my head with these characters, I think about their likes, their dislikes, their personalities.
What the actual fluff?
Because I’ve been thinking about this a lot, I’ve begun to form ideas as to why so many people are watching, talking about and absorbed by stalking beautiful people in the sun.
Here are my deep and meaningfuls.
(Bear with me, I have a lot of time on my hands at the minute. Yes, I should be out exercising or doing more cleaning or probably writing. But you know… Love Island.)
1.All of the beauty
GOOD JAYSUS. Where did they find these Gods and Goddesses? You’d think I’d be jealous of watching tall, lithe, muscle clad men and women pancying about in tiny bits of white lycra, but I’m not. I’m not jealous at all, I’m just fascinated. They remind me of playing with my barbies and ken when I was a kid. Easy to dress up and so beautiful when you did. It’s like watching one big moving Instagram page. I love it.
2. Finding out that personality does matter
Once you’ve gotten over the model status of each person, you quickly get to know everyone’s personalities by watching how they move, act, speak and reveal their intelligence level. Surprise, surprise, some of the most beautiful people aesthetically, turn out to be the least fanciable overall because they’re complete and utter gobshites or would have you jumping in the pool to drown yourself if you had to actually spend any time with them. The nicest people are the people who are fun, don’t take themselves too seriously, are kind and considerate of others and just have something about them. Nothing to do with looks. All about the personality. That makes me feel a lot better (!)
3. Thinking, what would I do?
The concept of Love Island is genius. They’ve taken all the good parts of Big Brother and made it even better – fill the island with stunners, make it a requirement that people must couple up and leave out all the gacky silly games and just let them at it. And drink. “Mammy why is everyone drinking juice?” asked my three year old as she passed the TV the other day. Because dear child, alcohol is the lubricant of our love dreams. As people move in and out of the island, you feel personally involved. You know what’s going on with everyone, who you’re rooting for, who would be your friend, who you would fancy. You are, in effect, part of it. You’re practically there. You’re on Love Island! Well, for an hour every night anyway.
4. Hanging out with your mates
In Love Island the girls and guys are often pitted together. If something happens, they group up and move in, to protect their sex. We’ve watched strong friendships form and real bonds develop, and it reminds us of our own experiences with our own best friends, girly groups and bromances. Sometimes we watch in horror as they give each other terrible advice, telling their friend to ‘crack on’ or ‘yes you were exactly right in your strop there, completely in the right you were’, because it’s exactly what they want to hear. We all support our friends as they move through terrible relationships and broken hearts. That’s life!
5. Chuckling with voiceover man
I love that voiceover man takes the piss out of everyone. And the production. It means we’re fully aware that what we’re watching is not serious and is a complete escapism project. He’s hilarious and one of the freshest voices I’ve heard on TV in years. I’d just hate to have him comment on my own life. Plenty of piss take fodder there.
6. Going out without all the fuss
Every night the villa inhabitants get totally glammed up, have drinks and hang out together. As they get ready, you can pretend that you’re on a night out too and observe the chats while scoffing your own beverage of choice. It’s like a night on the tiles from your very own sofa. I’m far too old to be bothered with that anymore.
7. All of the drama
As with any decent night out, there’s always a ton of drama, from fights and arguments to potential cheating and tears. The arrival of newbies into the villa sends feathers, glitter and bikinis flying into the night Majorcan air. It’s glorious. As most of my friends live completely drama free lives (in the love department anyway) all of the gossip is a throwback to the heady days of our 20s when everything was in flux and nearly everyone was single. Hashtag #gossip.
8. We all just want to end up like our Ma and Da
This is the first season I’ve ever watched, so I can’t tell about other seasons, but from very early on in this season (Season 4) it was obvious that Dani and Jack were the cutest, most genuine couple. They’re endearing, sweet and remind us all of long term couples we know, probably like your Ma and Da (if they’re still married!) Thing with Jack and Dani is that they’re also the most normal, both in personality traits and body types (in that they’re not stalking around with muscles dripping off their eyeballs). It makes us believe in love. We all know – that’s what we really want to find.
I do have some issues with the programme of course. There’s been a lot of talk about diversity and how our idea of beauty is held up as fully white, straight and prejudiced. It can’t be ignored that out of all of the contestants this year, Samira is the only black contestant and that she has largely been left to the side by all the boys. As everyone in the villa roots for Dr Alex to find love, not a whole lot is said about Samira’s single status or prospects.
And then there’s the pitting women against women. The show is designed to make the worst of women’s insecurities and jealousies – with every effort made to ensure new women cause as much as a fuss as possible.
After lothario Adam was mean and manipulative to Rosie, domestic abuse charities identified his behaviour as emotionally abusive and a form of mental abuse.
It doesn’t’ stop me watching though. If anything I find things are laid out more clearly – reflective of how things are in the real world – why we see breakdowns in relationships, misunderstandings, racism and abuse under our very noses.
I don’t watch passively. I think a lot about society, dating, morals, standards, expectations and our ideals of beauty as I get my daily dose of escapism. I dread the end of the programme which will leave a glaring hole in my life, like that time I came home from the gaeltacht and found I missed the nightly ceilis.
If you’re watching Love Island, you will understand what I’m talking about. If you’re not and think I’m an absolute eejit for even trying to justify myself, then so be it. I was on that side until about two weeks ago. And I don’t care if you judge me. I’m wallowing in my voyeurism and throwback to my long forgotten 20s.
It’s good to hold a mirror up to how we behave. Even if it’s in a world of models, goddesses and stud kings. Peel away the beauty and we all have the same feelings underneath. Don’t we?
You can catch Love Island nightly (except Saturdays) on ITV2 or on 3e in Ireland.