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Love island: the train wreck you just can’t look away from

By Rebecca Richard

Neon filled escapist paradise is perfect for student relaxation.

As the sweet melody of whatever upbeat pop tune accompanying the previous evening’s Love Island recap fills my living room for the sixth time that week, my flatmate, who has never actually watched the show themselves, asks for an update on who’s kissed who now. Even those who say they don’t like the tropical love and lust filled reality show, secretly sneak a glance from the other side of the room as the most dramatic “recoupling” of the season takes place. 

We all love a bit of brainless reality. Amid a dreary Glasgow winter, when assignments, work, and rain is all that fills my days, you best believe I’m booked and busy every night at 9pm waiting to see who has declared their love for their third “soulmate” of the week. 

Tuning in to this year’s budding young, attractive love birds every night is a nice distraction from the trials and tribulations of daily life. While the South-African villa with its neon décor (and of course the constant drama between the gorgeous contestants) is a break from doom scrolling and deadlines, the true escapism of Love Island comes from the Twitter community during the nightly live episodes. The memes, social commentary and literal personality analysis of contestants is endlessly entertaining, as predictions are made, and unpopular opinions divulged. There was even a spate of body language analysts sharing their expertise for a few seasons, giving us the scoop as to who really liked their partner. 

I don’t think anyone who watches Love Island is under the illusion that any of the contestants strutting through the villa every year are genuinely there for love at this point. We’ve all seen the success of Molly-Mae Hague and they want their slice; I respect it. Everyone watching is painfully aware of the manipulation and forced drama (looking at you Casa Amor), but watching it all unfold with people we can somewhat relate to is fun. When our days are filled with a 9-to-5 job or endless uni readings, the absolute nonsense discussed of “testing” relationships, being “mugged off”, or heads spinning for the latest “bombshell”, is a welcome break from using a single brain cell. As much as the show is so unrelatable in many ways (because, who watching at home can relate to a free eight-week holiday to find their lover), it clearly resonates with the audience enough to rack up millions of viewers every single day. As a fellow twenty-something who has experienced the UK dating scene, it is relatable to hear people getting the “ick”, being chucked aside for someone better, or your head and heart feeling decidedly “scrambled” between multiple attractive potential partners in the vicinity. 

Love Island, of course, has its issues. The lack of body diversity is jarring, not to mention the mental health issues many contestants face upon their exit from the villa; it goes without saying viewers should be mindful of the real people behind our escapism. But if we take it for what it is on its nightly basis – a light-hearted dating show with the odd cringey, but altogether entertaining themed challenge, it’s good fun to keep up with. 

At the end of the day, it simply isn’t that deep. Not all TV has to have meaningful symbols, airtight plots or even a purpose at all. I want addictive trash that I can switch off my brain to in the evenings, whilst judging whether I personally would have paired those elbow-length gloves with that neon green dress. If you’ve so far had the strength that I did not, to refuse succumbing to Love Island’s magnetism, I encourage you to watch (even with a sociological lens if that eases your extremely valid internalised disgust). After all, who doesn’t love to watch romance blossoming in real time, whilst simultaneously voting for the newest contestant to absolutely destroy it in the next episode. Embrace the chaos.


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