A few weeks ago, I wrote about how the impending series of Love Island felt like a chore, and that I was in two minds about watching it this year.
ell, how stupid May Emma was, as June Emma has hitched herself to the villa wagon wholeheartedly.
After an underwhelming two years of the dating show, Love Island, much like Stella, has got its groove back.
Every night at around 8.50pm – I allow myself 10 minutes to get Virgin Media Player to work – I excitedly snuggle up to watch a group of hotties a good decade younger than me in swimwear have repetitive conversations about wanting to rip each other’s clothes off, with Twitter open at all times on my phone to keep abreast of memes. This series has everything – love stories, partner-swapping, comedy, and most of all… drama.
The issue Love Island had last year was that it was full of conflict, and not in a good way.
We uncomfortably watched as Faye Winter shouted at Teddy Soares in scenes that would receive thousands of complaints, and started to consider whether this was actually entertainment.
But we were also infuriated when nothing happened. Reality TV is a tricky balancing act. Go too far into mundanity and we’ll be bored out of our minds, tip in the other direction and it feels exploitative and dangerous.
The heartbreaking suicides of two islanders and host Caroline Flack, plus testimonies from reality TV stars about their struggles post-fame, have rightly led to ITV strengthening its aftercare package and being more cautious, but the fact remains that reality TV needs a bit of drama to survive.
This series, so far, has perfected this balance. We have had screaming matches but no one has been harmed or ganged up on. Islanders have swapped partners, but no one has been left heartbroken.
There are friendships as well as clashes, and while we have slightly villainous character arcs, like Luca’s descent into madness every time he experiences a slight inconvenience, there’s no nastiness.
But there are also drama queens and kings, and that’s what makes this series stand out. I can imagine ITV’s casting department are drowning in champagne following the introduction of bombshell Ekin-Su to the villa.
Much like Maura Higgins and Megan Barton-Hanson before her, this Turkish-English soap star swanned in and held a can of deodorant up to a lighter, causing destruction and turmoil everywhere she goes and managing to turn a man not making her a tea in the morning into a telenovela.
In just over two weeks, she has stolen Davide, dumped Davide, crawled on her hands and knees for a kiss from a Scottish finance manager, and is now eyeing up posh estate agent Charlie like he’s a particularly juicy burger.
The tactic of many islanders, particularly the women, is to emerge as the ultimate girl’s girl. Smile, be sweet, don’t step on too many toes and you too may leave universally loved and inundated with fast-fashion partnerships. But this does not make a good reality TV star.
A good reality TV star knows they should make mountains out of molehills, insert themselves into every storyline and prioritise entertainment over friends.
I love Paige and Tasha and their sweet journeys to romance, but I would much rather watch Ekin-Su act stunned as Italian cartoon character Davide – also absolute reality TV gold – calls her “a liar and an actress”.
There’s been more than 200 islanders at this stage on the show, and while there have been plenty you’d like to be mates with, it’s the hurricanes that stand out and make the show watchable.
God bless the Ekin-Sus and Davides of the world for giving me a reason to stay in every night.
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