Sooooo, Love Island then?

Hey kids! (spelling is fun!) (sorry)

So I just thought I should get you right up to speed with a l’il British show you’ll no doubt have seen/heard a lot about if you’re on Twitter/the internet.

It’s called Love Island.

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A lot of people who have never watched it like to give us their never-ending hot takes on it.

Its fourth series started at the beginning of the month.

There’s a lot that’s wrong with it. And you know – I really enjoy watching it?

Here’s the premise: a group of good-looking single guys and gals head to a beautiful island villa, and then they couple up. That’s basically it. Over the course of two months, they take part in various challenges, split up, get back together, or get together with new people, or end up getting kicked off the show.

The winners are the couple who the viewers like best. They get £50,000 and probably a spin-off show.

Now there are obviously a lot of problems with this format. Let’s start with the aforementioned “good-looking” folk. Because obviously, whilst your idea of beautiful is going to be different to mine, we all know that there is, shall we say, a “standard” beauty ideal – and producers have thus far picked a fairly identikit run of contestants. Here’s last year’s line-up:

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Aaaaaand some of this year’s:

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D’ya get me? They’re all relatively skinny, and conventionally attractive, is what I’m saying. And many say that fuels body image issues. (By the way, the woman above in red is apparently the “plus size” contestant this year…)

That’s before we get onto the race question. The show has – rightly – been criticised in the past for being pretty white. This year they have taken steps to address that, although I recently read this on that subject, and I think she makes a lot of strong points.

We also have to look at the way contestants are treated after the show. There’s been a lot of publicity surrounding the fact that two former participants have, very very sadly, taken their own lives after their appearances. As a result, the show’s bosses have put more aftercare in place. I hope that it will go some way towards helping people. As part of my job (full disclosure: in television), I have been on the receiving end of a very tiny bit of the internet’s vitriol. Even that was horrible (death threats are no fun! Who knew?), so I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be getting things like that and be in the public eye – and very probably having to try to return to your normal life.

That’s the criticisms out the way. They’re valid. They are. I know.

But – whilst all of that is important, there’s also a lot of people commenting on the show who’ve never seen it. I won’t stand for that. Watch an episode. Watch two. Then you have the right to say it’s whatever you think it is. And don’t be a snob (that article is SPOT ON)

Thing is, there’s also a lot that’s very clever about this programme. It’s a very simple premise. Their casting producers, and story producers, are bloody good at their jobs. Just when things get dull or comfortable, they’ll drop in a new participant, or a new challenge (the one where the couples have to look after one of those “real life” babies that cries etc, is always a belter), and set the cat amongst the pigeons.

For a summer, you get hooked in the narrative, the shared experience. It doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t. It’s escapism for a few months. It’s bonding with strangers online over something mad that’s just happened. It’s asking really important questions about love and friendship, and what we think is acceptable in relationships. It can be really funny, or really touching. It’s got two great presenters in Caroline Flack and Iain Stirling. It’s trash but that’s OK!

A lot of rumours suggest a US version is in the works, which I am sure it is, but you should stick with your British cousins for a little longer. You know how good at trash we are. 

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About gnidrah

Television, books, music, sports, cooking. I only get paid for one of them. (Update: two of them!)
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15 Responses to Sooooo, Love Island then?

  1. Kate says:

    I wondered what this was! I’m not usually a reality TV fan, but I’ll have to check it out on your recommendation. (And that young lady is in no way ‘plus size’ for goodness sakes lolol)

    • gnidrah says:

      Ha. I know, right? No one’s ever explicitly said she’s supposed to be the “normal” one, but it seems to be taken as read that she is.

      I do not claim that this is the best TV you’ll ever watch, but it’s a laugh and it gets people talking…!!

  2. welcometocostcoiloveyou says:

    Usually if I watch reality TV, it’s competition shows, like Project Runway or Top Model. If I could find this on Hulu or YouTube, I might give it a go. I really like that you addressed the good and bad of reality TV.

    And you know what? I sometimes love simple TV. Whether it’s a reality show like this or a competition show like So You Think You Can Dance or scripted nonsense like Gossip Girl. I don’t always want to watch something serious or thought provoking.

    I mean, Top Model was ridiculous. But I loved it!

    • gnidrah says:

      Thank you! I know a lot of people feel very strongly that this show is the end of civilisation as we know it – but not for ONE of the reasons I listed (which would all be valid reasons)

      It’s absolutely OK not to like certain types of TV, but it’s the moral judgement that annoys me, like I saw a facebook comment the other day that said, “I’m proud to say that I haven’t even wasted one of my brain cells on this ****” OH WELL DONE YOU! You know?!

      As you so rightly say – not everything has to be serious or thought-provoking. And you can also find thought-provoking stuff in places you never expected it!

      (ahhhh I miss Gossip Girl 🙂 )

      • hotspur says:

        Thank you for saying this. Over the weekend I got sucked into a Twitter thread that kicked off when someone posted basically “I don’t know what to watch now that Game of Thrones is over.” The first answers were “Try Chernobyl,” but quickly people chimed in with, “Don’t look at me, I never wasted one second of my life on Game of Thrones!” It made me so mad — OH WELL DONE YOU, exactly! Then the thread turned to bashing season 8 — and half the bashers were these self-righteous weirdos who hadn’t even watched it. “Over the years I wondered if I should check out this show because it was so popular — but when everyone said the ending was shit, I felt so glad I didn’t waste my time!” Yeah, you really dodged that bullet of seven years of amazing entertainment. Good work. And by the way, season 8 was fine. IT JUST DIDN’T GIVE SOME PEOPLE THE EXACT PONY THEY ASKED FOR. Ugh. Anyway thanks to Twitter I spent a solid half hour angry on my couch. Terrorists, I am begging you, please crash a plane into Twitter.

        Ages ago I had an amazing conversation with a super-smart friend who was super into Jersey Shore. He loved the show because he said, “So many people dismiss it as dumb, but you know what? The people on the show all know exactly who they are. Can you say that about yourself?”

        • gnidrah says:

          Yep, I agree completely. I don’t like Game of Thrones particularly, never really got into it at the beginning and then I just felt like “oh god there’s so much to watch! I’ll never catch up!”, but that’s not to say I can’t see why people would really love it. It doesn’t make me a better person just because I haven’t seen it.

          Some TV is trash. Some books are trash. Some films are. Some sports are. Some THINGS are. But what we have to do is assess WHY we think those things are trash, and if it’s pure snobbery, then please look at your own issues before coming for my TV show.*

          *I say this as a reformed snob. I wasted too much of my life thinking that I would only be cool if I liked a certain band etc, and I think it was when everyone started referring to stuff as a “guilty pleasure” that I started to think, well, why? If you like it, you like it (unless “it” is killing puppies or something. That’s bad)

  3. Tracey says:

    This is very helpful to me because my favorite show is MTV’s The Challenge, and they’ve started casting Brits from this show. Bear and Georgia were two key cast members on the most recent season.

    • gnidrah says:

      NO! Georgia Steel? The face that launched a thousand “I’m loyal” memes? Oh she’s great. I’m very pleased she’s out there doing this. Bear I don’t know so much about, but again I am pleased!

      Oh I’ve just googled it! You had Theo Campbell too. Do they get to keep that money that’s listed on wikipedia? I do hope so.

      • gnidrah says:

        Ahhh I see, Georgia Harrison from 2017, Georgia Steel was 2018. Oh man if you get Georgia S it’s going down. Girlfriend does NOT like losing!

      • Tracey says:

        Theo was a gem! He seemed nice. Georgia was a surprisingly great competitor and narrator – she’ll be back for sure. She seems like a good person. Bear stirred up a lot of drama but he was fun to root against. First place got $750K, second place $200K, and third place $50K, but some of them get big appearance fees as well.

        • gnidrah says:

          Yeah what I do know about Bear on Geordie Shore was that he was a stirrer!

          This year on Love Island we have a girl called Maura and that is her primary role. I do hope you can witness Maura in action on a reality show near you very soon. She is priceless.

  4. welcometocostcoiloveyou says:

    Just so you guys know, Love Island popped up on my Hulu home page today. Looks like there are 5 seasons available 🙂

    • gnidrah says:

      ERMAGAD!

      Start on season 4…

      • welcometocostcoiloveyou says:

        So, I actually started on season 1. Is season 4 the best one?

        I love it and hate it at the same time. Love the accents, hearing slang we don’t use, etc. And I love the fact that it is television that I don’t have to think about. Good to watch while I’m eating lunch or whatever. I also love that they can swear freely. The US version will bleep out the fucks and so on. Do you guys remember when Top Model banned smoking? Love Island does not do that either. Let the people do what they want I guess.

        My god, the egos on these people! Those Italian twins might be the worst in terms of talking themselves up. Now, these people – men and women – clearly work very hard to look great in bathing suits and they do their hair and makeup in a way that they like, and they do look good. Excellent work in looking good! No sarcasmo. But I don’t personally find them attractive. I swear I saw one of the girls staring at her own reflection while in conversation with one of the guys. And not while she was fixing her hair. Just walking past something shiny, and she stopped to look at herself! Eesh!

        • gnidrah says:

          Very interesting! Series 3 or 4 is when the new version of the show really hit its stride, they learned what works in terms of casting and in terms of challenges, etc.

          In the early series, they also did show islanders smoking – that’s totally stopped in the past couple of years. I understand that there IS a smoking area, but it’s never shown on camera any more, and they barely show them drinking alcohol any more. We know that they do drink, but it’s never that much and you’d only ever see them with a glass, never pouring a drink. I am sure that’s sensible – you don’t want to think about what could happen on a show like that if someone got very drunk – but it has sanitised things too.

          The egos haven’t changed though! Oh my days. Ego central. They look great, even if it’s not always my thing either. They love preening and primping (and they do show them working out too, which I kind of like) and it’s an utter shock to them if someone doesn’t instantly fancy them.

          I know it’s mad – but there have actually been some really important conversations in this series so far, conversations you would be unlikely to hear on TV elsewhere, about consent, about how men talk about women, about how women talk about sex, it’s TV that washes over you but in amongst that, there’s stuff going on, there really is.

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