Despite the toxicity, the ITV2 dating show lured us in once again
To quote the ever-eloquent Billie Joe Armstrong, “summer has come and passed”; the nights are getting longer, students are returning to their outrageously priced tenements, and Iain Stirling’s shite patter no longer soundtracks my evenings. Love Island series seven has somewhat successfully completed its two-month run, leaving in its wake a flurry of memes and a new national treasure.
This was my first time tuning into Love Island. For years, I had dismissed it as a shallow, absurd show that served only to aggravate mental health and body image issues in both the viewership and the islanders themselves, revealing how dystopian British reality TV had become. And while that may all be true, I did have free evenings over summer since starting a 9-5… so I jumped in.
The main aspect of Love Island that had me captivated throughout the series was the sense of community and inside jokes within the viewership, particularly on everyone’s favourite bird-watching site, Twitter.com. Watching each episode live with my phone glued firmly to my hand and refreshing the “#LoveIsland” trending tag, the entertainment derived from people’s opinions or funny reactionary memes often far outweighed the objective entertainment value of the episode itself – just think of the photoshop frenzy after Millie played keyboard in the talent show, or Toby aggressively lifting weights after losing the sports day to Hugo. Rent free, reader. But more so than tweets like “Jake saying yor moi gorlfriend gives me the ick,” watching Love Island this year brought about a sense of community, of togetherness that I haven’t really experienced since Covid-19 brought everybody’s lives to a sudden standstill. It was cathartic, I think, to have something to watch as part of your nightly routine that unified strangers from across the country – as well as the knowledge that, for at least one hour a day, the group chat would be going off with hot takes about Faye’s brown lipstick.
Though the ending was (in my opinion) largely disappointing, the amount of laughs that came from this series made it feel like a worthwhile watch. Even the fact that I was able to view the finale with two of my best friends, whom I met through working on The Glasgow Guardian, meant so much. It demonstrates how the joy derived from watching Love Island doesn’t necessarily come from the episodes themselves, but rather the shared connections made while watching the show. Toby’s wisdom is clearly rubbing off on me. In the time between seasons, it’s easy to ruminate and wonder exactly why you watched 50+ hours of British wannabe-influencers chill in a Mallorcan mansion. The desperate, inescapable need to feel in-the-know on Twitter, combined with a shameful urge to watch pretty people parade around and participate in undignified, highly sexualised challenges? Maybe. Bants? That’s what I’ll tell myself.Though the sun has set on summer and this year’s Love Island, the memories of both will remain with us. My main takeaway from tuning in is that it’s a demeaning, facetious trainwreck – and I can’t wait for the next season.