Three weeks in, Love Island is in full swing. Relationships and friendships have been firmly established, couples have been tested, beds have been swapped, kissing competitions have been had. After a slow start, the producers have listened, and the show is now finally providing the drama people demanded. Now all we need is for Curtis to sit back, and stop encouraging everybody to be so rational.
Not everybody’s cup of tea
Last week the public voted to keep Anton in at the expense of Elma, who was dumped from the island just as she was about to have a probably very big fight with Maura over quite a dull man. Here we go again, I thought: classic Great British public, always proving they should not be allowed to make decisions.
This is not easy to admit: I was wrong. Anton is TV gold. He is maybe Love Island’s least successful contestant ever. It is not unusual for a contestant to fail to meet anybody they are interested in, couple up platonically for a bit and then be booted from the show when their partner finds love. That is not what is happening to Anton. Anton has met lots of people he is interested in. Anton, to be honest, is interested in everybody.
Time and again, we watch as he pulls a different woman for a chat, lays it on incredibly thick, sometimes while obliviously insulting them, and is ultimately told that he’s a really great mate.
The plight of Anton is – and I do feel a bit bad saying this, but my god is he an idiot – great TV. And at this point, Anton has near enough accepted his fate. Sure, having been rejected by pretty much everybody else, he is half-heartedly attempting to crack on with the new girl, Arabella. But everybody, Anton included, knows it is not going to happen. Instead, he seems to have mostly given up the chirpsing, and assigned himself the role of the villa’s tea lady, spending his days rushing round asking if he can get anybody a hot drink and offering to fill up water bottles.
Pride comes before a fall
– Anna Leszkiewicz
Once in a Majorcan moon, Love Island treats us to a microcosmic moment of such cinematic, emblematic glory we can’t quite believe our luck. Sunday night’s episode offered one such rare parable: the cautionary tale of Tom and Maura’s Hideaway drama.
The interaction lasted 54 seconds in full. After being given a night with a boy of her choice in the Hideaway, the sexually frank and exquisitely horny Maura chose Tom – strong of jaw, weak of personality – to be her sleepover companion. As she picked out her sexiest pyjamas in the dressing room while assuring the girls she didn’t plan to actually have sex with him on mainstream television, Tom was outside, waving a condom around as the boys screamed in delight. When Maura popped back outside, Tom glanced her way, turned back to the boys, and loudly announced, with all the bravado of a naughty schoolboy mocking a teacher within earshot to impress his friends, “It’ll be interesting to see if she’s all mouth.”
The gleefully horrified look on the rest of the boys’ faces should have been enough to make him realise what a monumental error he was making. But Tom – grinning the absurdly overconfident grin that could only be worn by a man with a condom burning a hole in his back pocket – simply repeated his sexist, arrogant comment to Maura’s face as the Large Lads of Love Island tittered in the background. “Did you actually just say that?” Maura asked. “Wow. Ok. Are you fucking joking? That’s a dickhead comment. Fuck off. Go fuck yourself.” Tom was left spluttering. Then, head in hands, he whispered the ancient refrain of foolish men throughout the centuries: “I fucked it”. The Large Lads could not contain their shocked laughter.
Pride comes before a fall, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and good things come to those who aren’t complete and utter dickheads. This dizzying reversal of fortune shows us all that and more. Perhaps the thing that’s the most infuriating about the scene is that Tom says his little misogynist aside in spite of the fact (or, perhaps, because of the fact) that he knows Maura can hear him. He wants her to know that because she is sexually frank, he expects sex tonight. He wants her to know because he thinks that making his entitlement to her body clear will make it more likely that she’ll go for it – perhaps out of guilt and fear of being labelled all talk, or a tease.
How satisfying, then, that he said it to Maura, of all people. Maura, a human whirlwind of sass and chaotic fury; Maura, who can reduce men to erect, gawping shadows of their former selves with a glance; Maura who spent the first week of her flirtation with Tom rolling her eyes at his pathetic lack of game, asking with withering disdain, “What the fuck am I going to say to him? ‘Intimidate me’?”
Tom, you have indeed fucked it. You’ve fucked it so badly I’m not sure you’ll live to fuck another day.
Reality TV is not reality
Last year’s Love Island brought “gaslighting” to public attention when Adam Collard twisted the narrative and effectively told Rosie Williams, with whom he was coupled up, that it was her fault that he fancied somebody else; and, in scenes that made for horribly uncomfortable viewing, smirked as she cried while confronting his behaviour. The charity Women’s Aid issued a statement condemning Collard.
Women’s Aid has again this year issued a statement over a contestant’s behaviour. But should it have done so? There was no denying the emotional manipulation that took place last year, but this time round the waters are a little murkier.
Contestant Joe Garratt confronted his “half-girlfriend” Lucie Donlan over her friendship with Tommy Fury, feeling it was strange she spent so much time with the boxer, and telling her she should spend more time with the other women. It goes without saying that Lucie should be able to be friends with whoever she wants, male or female, and that Joe should not attempt to stop her doing so.
Joe should not have said what he did. It was controlling and he appeared very insecure. But I think we have to recognise that we are seeing a version of events that the producers want us to see. It is in their interest to create villains and victims, because it creates drama and keeps us watching. We were rarely shown any instances where Joe and Lucie were just chatting happily, only the moment that they argued.
I am not sure that, when somebody is cut off from the world, completely unable to defend or explain themselves, it is helpful for charities to be encouraging the idea that they are abusive, without at least acknowledging that we are seeing a heavily edited version of events. In the last two years, two former contestants have committed suicide. Joe left the villa to allegations of abuse and as such had to immediately be put in an ITV safehouse for his own wellbeing. Perhaps ITV must remember that its duty of care doesn’t start only when the contestants leave the villa.
Yewande’s big problem
Most islanders are, it’s fair to say, not really there for love: they want the chance to make a name for themselves so they can fly home to a BooHoo deal, a tour of appearances at Britain’s finest nightclubs and regular requests for sponsored content. A new boyfriend or girlfriend would be an added and unexpected bonus.
Yewande, it seems, is perhaps not like most islanders: she’s spent years studying to become a scientist, so it seems unlikely she wants to throw that away to share pictures of toothpaste on Instagram. Yewande seems to genuinely want to find love, not rush through a relationship, and declare she’s the “half girlfriend” of some guy she met four days ago and has spoken to about twice.
This means that Yewande wanted to take any relationship slow. This is obviously fine outside the villa, but when you’re forced to live 24/7 with the person you’re dating, the pace of any relationship is going to be dramatically increased. Earlier this week many viewers accused her of not playing the game when she was hesitant to show any affection or open up to Danny.
When the other islanders encouraged her to try a bit harder with Danny, after he went on a date with new girl Arabella, Yewande made more of an effort, telling Danny how she felt about him, and kissing him.
And when it transpired that Danny had been, in Michael’s words, “a dickhead”, Yewande was calm and collected. She sat down and spoke with him and Arabella individually, and explained why she was upset and what he had done wrong. Later she cried to the other women, and told them she wanted to go home because she didn’t think she was going to find love on Love Island after all. Unfortunately for Yewande, I’m not sure any of the other contestants ever expected to.
In a conversation about how many people they’d slept with, Molly Mae was visibly shocked to hear that Maura, the world’s horniest woman, had slept with five people. Her mouth agape, she exclaimed, “What?! You are messing. Jesus Christ, really?! I thought you’d be in the numbers, like the numbers.”
She went on to say, “I just thought it would be more than five, but kudos to you, I’m proud of you, keep those numbers low!”
This sort of conversation is typical of Love Island. Despite having all gone on a show where semi-nude attractive people must couple up and share a bed with other semi-nude attractive people, they must all pretend they hate to have sex. They congratulate each other on having slept with less people, or act repulsed to learn that their partner has slept with more people than themselves. Love Islanders are, in many ways, straight out of the 1950s.