Written by Ruby Hinchliffe
Illustrated by Lucy Lorimer
Love Island is a conundrum. It’s a game show with a handsome cash prize which motivates many contestants to play the public and resist their natural inhibitions. But this insulated bubble of twenty-somethings sunning themselves in the luxury Majorca complex will also inevitably slip up, make mistakes and show their true colours in ways they never knew they could.
It’s a completely artificial setting – if they leave the villa they’re served food and drink by actors, producers will take them aside to fast-forward plot lines and their drinking is limited to just a glass or two.
And yet, plenty of real things still happen in the made-up villa. Watching it from our sofas sees us constantly move between calling Islanders liars and genuine people. For us, the game becomes a rendition of ‘Guess Who?’ to spot what’s real and what’s motivated by the glinting £50,000.
Is Curtis a game player or did he genuinely think he liked Amy for a time? Is Michael taking out his feelings on Amber because he likes her or because he resents her presence jeopardising his own position in the villa? Is Anton biding his time with Belle or is he going to practice what he preaches about managing his perfectionist expectations?
With just two more weeks to go until the final, now is the time when Islanders begin to get desperate, turn on the charm and make provisions to cling on until the end. They know the sooner they leave the more quickly they’ll become irrelevant in the outside world.
With the show seeing its highest ever ratings earlier this month as six million viewers tuned in for the July 3rd episode, it’s all to play for. The nation is watching them and it is taking no prisoners.
Let’s take a look at some of the Islanders so far and see whether they’ve navigated the show with games or true emotion.
Molly-Mae & Tommy
They’re the classic couple of the series. They tick all the boxes of clear Love Island winners – they’re sweet, loving, never argue and they even look after a child together: soft toy Elly Belly. But if we think back to when Molly-Mae first met Tommy, there was a clear lack of intellectual connection. This trickles through when we see Tommy try to make up words such as ‘equivalates’ to which Molly-Mae exasperatedly tells him: ‘It’s not a word!’
We often see the couple getting physical together rather than having conversations, begging the question: do the couple actually have chat? If they don’t, it’s likely they’re ignoring that fact until they inevitably win with the entire nation cheering behind them.
Michael, Joanna & Amber
Joanna was torn apart from Michael yesterday ending an entertaining love triangle which saw us all shouting at our televisions for Michael to be straight with Amber. Half the villa coined his relationship with Joanna fake, especially when he decided not to leave with her. But now the Casa Amor fling is over, Michael is left vulnerable. It was probably this vulnerability which motivated his rude outburst to Amber last night. The poor woman has been on the receiving end of all his frustration this series, so it isn’t surprising that people are reading between the lines.
Now Michael is widely disliked by the nation because he chose not to play his cards right. Hooking up with a Casa Amor babe never scores you points with the public, especially if it’s at the cost of an innocent like Amber. Perhaps his poor game is a sign he really is trying to give this ‘love thing’ a go? Or perhaps he’s just selfish and enjoys calling all the women in the villa ‘immature’.
As for Amber, it seems Michael was her ‘one’. Despite his flick of the switch, she’s found it far harder to turn off her feelings for him. Perhaps now he’s told her to ‘sit down’ she’ll move on? Nah, you can’t get rid of a woman that easily Michael.
Our shining light. Our beacon of hope. Our savior in a whirling sea of boorishness. Here comes Ovie. He needs no woman by his side to command the screen. Despite being unlucky in love, viewers are demanding more screen time from the 6ft 7in basketball player. Already the subject of numerous memes, Ovie will not be forgotten quickly. Can he ride the wave of his personality until the end? Potentially. Often the public will vote to save individuals in a couple. I doubt bouffant Chris would still be wandering about if he didn’t have the lovable Maura carrying him through.
But it looks like Ovie is finally getting some action tonight. You heard it. King Ovie is finally getting what he deserves. His wait has served him well. We take our hat off to you Ovie. Keep shouting “message”, keep putting away those pop ices and keep cultivating that fabulous hat collection.
Belle & Anton
When Anton began his time in the villa we all knew he was ‘that guy’. The one who played up to the boys, got his mum to shave his arsehole and had unattainable standards for girls miles out of his league. Then he became funny, in a temperate, lovable sort of the way. The more he was rebuffed after countless failed attempts of Mission A [insert first letter of girls name], the more we felt sorry for him and let him in.
But, unlike fellow Islander Jordan, Anton lacks maturity, often playing up to ‘his boys’ without a care for how this affects the girl he’s supposedly interested in. When Belle stood up for herself at the club women everywhere cheered and suddenly remembered how childish Anton can be. Belle is a woman. The question is: does she really want to invest her time in teaching Anton the fundamental principles of respect in an adult relationship? Perhaps with two weeks left and £50,000 at stake, yes.
So we saw the couple leap to resolve their fiery run-in at the club after both calling it quits to fellow Islanders. Many women watched in discomfort as Belle completely backed down after making such a solid case for herself. Would she do that on the outside? No, she probably wouldn’t. It’s even been speculated the whole row was fake.
Anna & Jordan
Anna began by being one of the more genuine girls. She didn’t jump at any of the men who walked through the villa in the first few weeks. Instead she focused on her girls, bigging them up and encouraging them to put themselves out there – most notably Yewande. When Jordan came in they seemed to hit it off, but you could tell the part plus-size model and part pharmacist wanted more. Queue tall, dark, handsome Ovie. We all thought it was a match made in heaven.
But no-one accounted for Jordan’s grace after he was dumped. Instead of slagging off Anna, he accepted the challenge and made it his mission to turn Anna’s head back to him. He succeeded, proving to Anna that chemistry isn’t always found in a man you drew up for yourself some years ago. The two do argue, but it’s never on red flag scale like we saw with Belle and Anton. To the public they’re a so-so couple, probably because they’re one of the more realistic pairings in there.
Amy, Curtis & Maura
Amy’s ordeal at the hands of, at best, an ‘indecisive’ Curtis, was tragic to watch. After she left the villa Telegraph writer Kate Leaver said:
“It gave us emotionally intelligent, unselfish love that involved a degree of sacrifice and a generosity of spirit you’d better associate with at least a Richard Curtis film but quite possibly even Austen or Eliot.”Kate Leaver
Perhaps one of the only genuine contestants of this year’s show, Amy truly let her guard down, fell in love and was cruelly rejected so far down the line it felt like far too little too late from Curtis. She was collateral damage in a game of hiding real feelings, because she didn’t hide and she did feel. ‘Mr Nice Guy’ Curtis broke her heart, allegedly because he couldn’t make his mind up, but I’m sure many of us were thinking: ‘you were using her until someone better came along.’
Now he’s cracking on with Maura, but many of us can’t see this unlikely coupling making it past the finish line either. Despite sliding into her DMs before the show, their personalities are completely opposite. But perhaps opposites will win out. Curtis’ similarly unlikely bromance with Tommy has won over plenty of viewers, sending them wild with a tantalising private balcony kiss in one episode. If this is anything to go by, Maura has a bright future ahead with him. Of course, that’s provided you forget about poor, heartbroken Amy.
In an ideal world Love Island should work on the premise that people genuinely put themselves out there and couple up with people they actually like. But with the prize money looming and sponsorships in the wings, often it resorts to survival of the hottest.
Molly-Mae and Tommy look the part which is why they’ll win. They never argue and they’re always affectionate towards each other, so it doesn’t matter if they don’t have the chat.
The fact they’ve been dubbed clear winners certainly says something about us, the viewers. We want to see perfection, despite all the imperfections we harbour ourselves. The show feeds off this hypocrisy and we unashamedly buy into it despite being fully aware of the innate contradiction.
As my boyfriend often says above the sound of shushing flatmates: ‘where’s pale pot-bellied office worker Alan?’