Wondering

Love Island

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The end is nigh.

I’m gripped by it. I didn’t think I would be. Nor did I want to be. Surely this is way beyond my age bracket and depth is not something the show can be accused of. Despite myself, I love it.

I love Love Island.

It’s the only love I’m experiencing though. There’s no love on this island, only self-aggrandising opportunism. But how it glitters – tanned, toned, sculpted bodies glinting in the sun, perfect hair and make-up even in that heat. Somehow, these mannequins, who are never shown eating, suck you in to their Majorcan vortex to monitor their every move.

It’s an autonomous state with its own rules and language like ‘recoupling’ which sounds vaguely like something from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and more changes of mind than a woman choosing a dress for a night out.

Their wardrobes are extensive, their bikinis not so much.

Piers Morgan is highly entertaining in his utter disparagement of the show. He is ashamed that this is the image Britain is projecting to the world. That Brexit has something to do with trees, they don’t know where Vienna is and that the contestants don’t know what superficial means, which is, when you think about it, hilarious.

It’s not the vacuous conversations I watch it for, nor the fashion on the stick insect bodies, nor the make-up tips of the twenty-somethings which bizarrely seems to involve blow drying eyelashes, it’s for the sub text, the positively Machiavellian antics of the contestants who I am sure have never heard of Machiavelli.

It’s pure, golden escapism. From Trump, the World Cup, water shortages, drought, Meghan Markle pretending to be a great humanitarian when she won’t even speak to her own father. For one hour a night you can get lost in the swirl of sun cream, hair straighteners, fake eyelashes and a story that is as old as time – boys will be boys, especially around pretty girls. But Love Island exposes a deeper dynamic and it is this that keeps me watching, a class element, a societal reflection and in scenes reminiscent of Lord of the Flies, the way they vote each other off is a study in psychology – ‘survival of the fittest’, ‘beauty opens doors’, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, ‘money isn’t everything’ – they are all here, side by side, on this sunny isle. These clichés crash into each other night after night and expose the greatest doubts and fears we have about ourselves that have absolutely nothing to do with fitting into one of those bikinis. It’s like watching an extended version of a night out in a club. You don’t get to know another person well in that environment and the same can be said of Love Island. Yes, they are together nonstop, all day, every day. Yes, there are challenges to the relationships that are manufactured by the producers, but there is no reality on this reality show. Relationships are tested by mundanity not by excitement. Love is in the boredom of the everyday. And in the reactions of your partner when the really ‘real’ stuff happens like sickness or tragedy.

But, I’m going to miss it.

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