Gird your loins, shut your eyes, and open your hearts: Love Island 2018 is upon us, the Great British tele-viewing public.
…but, according to the internet, no one’s buying it, even now, as the wannabe Casanovas and long-suffering consorts are moments away from stepping in the Majorcan villa of curated modern-day coupling.
You can watch the Love Island 2018 trailer below to whet your apetite:
Now, cast your mind back to summer of 2017.
Brexit had divided the UK, 312 people were killed in widespread flooding in Sierra Leone, neo-Nazis were running rampant in Charlottesville, the Grenfell Tower fire left 71 dead, the battle for Mosul raged, Spain was hit by its worst terror attack in a decade, and President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris Accord.
It’s no surprise so may of us retreated to our sofas and streaming services for some much-needed mindless escapism.
Indeed, Sally Brown, media commentator and BACP-registered therapist told UNILAD why we are so attached to Love Island, which acts as an antidote to anxiety-inducing rolling news channels and high-tension crime dramas.
Brown explained how Love Island soothes our hectic souls:
There is a need for more ‘soothing’ TV programmes, sufficiently engaging to stop us overthinking or worrying, but not overtaxing or stress-inducing. Love Island ticks all those boxes.
It’s also very funny at times which is therapeutic.
So that’s why last year, 2.43 million viewers tuned in live to see Kem and Amber crowned the winning couple in 2017; it was a vapid but restoratively simple experience which served as human distraction from the toll of global events.
The year before, the Love Island final was watched by 1.3m viewers, while the finale of the first series was watched by 737,000 viewers in 2015.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane to Love Island 2017’s best bits, shall we:
Although ITV2 were unable to provide viewing figure estimates for episode one of Love Island 2018, it’s exponential increase in popularity bodes well for the spin-off channel – as do the record number of commercial partnerships ready with the readies this year.
Yet, word on the street doesn’t exactly reflect decisions being made in the boardroom:
Am I the only person in Britain who has never or never had the desire to watch Love Island.
— Cat (@jammycrumpet) May 29, 2018
Think I’m the only British female who honestly couldn’t give a flying fuck about love island
— Charlotte ? (@Chaarlouise998) May 30, 2018
My sister in law has actually just said the words 'I think you should watch Love Island' to me and I've never been more disgusted. I'd rather deep throat a cactus.
— Becky (@becksthfc) May 29, 2018
cba for my timeline to be full of love island again. how has it already been a year, it’s pure fucking shite
— ashleigh (@ashl_eighhh) May 30, 2018
Ouch. Those metaphors are enough to make Camilla cry. Maybe we’re all hardened to curated courtship after three series. Maybe 2018 has failed to beat our brows into submission in time for TX.
The worst thing to happen to us this summer so far is that Infinity War ending.
In other words, Love Island 2018 is back, but the hungry-for-drama millions of savvy observers are going to take some convincing, if Twitter is anything to go by.
‘Why?’, you ask.
The majority are going to take some convincing because – just like contestants in an initial coupling – we’re all judging the line-up on their first impressions…
We have the women: Samira Mighty, Kendall Rae-Knight, Hayley Hughes, Laura Anderson and Dani Dyer, and the guys: Niall Aslam, Eyal Booker, Adam Collard, Jack Fincham, Wes Nelson and Dr. Alex George.
There’s about as much chance of getting lost in the d*ck sand here than there is of me forking out £15 for a personalised Love Island water bottle.
In other words, people are being pretty salty about the line-up first look:
Awful from love island with the line up
— Felix (@felixjames96) May 29, 2018
The love island line up this year looks fucking shittttt
— Kennedy Bolton (@KennedywBolton) May 29, 2018
Wtf is the new love island line up, got a fuck boy who sells pens, a couple of so called models and a few other cretins who love themselves too much
— Libby Thompson (@libbyathompson) May 30, 2018
My input on the love island contestants this year: pic.twitter.com/JzDsxyKDhE
— K ₁₇ (@minizerktbh) May 29, 2018
But let’s not take Twitter’s word for it. UNILAD asked some die-hard romantics, who spend most of their summers telling their friends the show is their ‘type on paper’, why the Love Island 2018 line-up is so disappointing this year.
One reality TV aficionado dubbed them a ‘bland bunch’ but remains hopeful ‘they could all shake things up in the first week like last year’. He also theorised ITV2 producers might be ‘keeping the best people’ aside as so-called bombshells.
All the same, we are all a little bit addicted:
It’s unclear what inspires people to volunteer as a tribute on The Horny Games – beyond five minutes of fame and a small fortune divided in two with someone you’ve pretended to fancy for the whole summer, not to mention the free holiday.
Oh, and, supposedly you’ll have a fighting chance of making an actual career out of the spotlight, à la Jess and Dom.
All you have to do is sell your dignity in a bikini and swim shorts on your televised wedding day:
Herein lies the problem for Georgie, 25, who thinks this year’s cast seem even more ‘fame-hungry’, citing Dani Dyer, the son of Danny Dyer (no, really), who has previously appeared on Survival of the Fittest, which in case you missed it, is another tat TV programme.
There is an undeniably dull homogeny to each and every year’s successful entrants.
Maybe the melts’ basic, generic appeal makes them so relatable you can’t help but take an interest – sort of like an average reading age level book.
Caroline Flack put it well when she told ITV2:
Last year, we reached a bigger audience across different ages. I think people started realising the show is a lot more than what it might seem on the surface.
People have realised it’s so much more than just being another reality show. It’s about real relationships and how they develop and people always see a bit of themselves in everyone.
Brown echoed Flack’s sentimentality with some real psychotherapy talk
People project a lot of their own emotions onto the characters – so when we say, ‘Chris must be so hurt’ we are often thinking about our own experiences in similar situations.
Seeing beautiful and seemingly confident people being rejected or failing at love gives us a sense of perspective about our own problems, allowing us to accept that heartbreak happens to everyone, rather than being down to our unique flaws or failings.
However, last year, the show received some criticism for its cookie-cutter portrayal of what love means in the 21st century; with a lack of diversity and no representation of the LGBT+ community since Sophie Gradon and Katie Salmon were told they had to date a man to win the prize money in 2016.
ITV2 promised things would change this year.
When questioned by UNILAD, ITV2 reps were unable to confirm the sexual preferences of the contestants on this cycle, which will be airing during Pride Month.
Watch this space.
love island airing during pride month is genius all the local straights are too busy getting horny over the bare minimum het relationships so us gays are free to do what we want pic.twitter.com/EZFzJ0OlmJ
— amy (@kashymcgraths) June 1, 2018
Personally, I welcome an application video mix up between Love Island and the Mars One project, which sees some of the globe’s sharpest minds battle it out to move to outer space and repopulate the Red Planet.
Saying that, between a pen salesman, member of cabin crew, doctor, engineer and west end star perhaps the Love Island 2018 ‘worldies’ would fare quite well out of this world with their unique collection of transferable skills.
First impressions can be deceiving, after all, according to Gabs, who dropped some truths for the naysayers:
Everyone needs to stop being so shallow about this seasons love island’s line up… first of all, the pics defo don’t anyone justice and secondly, it’s not all about what you look like yanno! Brains and “banter”/personality are important too! ???♀️❤️?#loveisland
— GABBY ALLEN (@gabbydawnallen) May 30, 2018
Personal politics aside, the show does offer an incredibly close insight into gender types, and heterosexual expectations – good, bad and ugly – of modern dating rituals, packaged into a shiny shell which could almost convince you it’s not excellent fodder for a social sciences class.
It might be viewed as ‘trash TV’ but we talk about it like we’re anthropologists or sociologists, analysing the behaviour of the human species, the cultural expectations on men and women today and basic theories of the human need to be loved and accepted.
It can spark philosophical debate about what is right and wrong. Sex and love is the basis of lots of TV shows but with Love Island, the contestants are real people whose lives we can continue to follow afterwards.
Yet, in an alarming mass case of cognitive dissonance, it seems most of us can see Love Island 2018 and its shiny shell is crap, acknowledge its crap-ness and yet proceed to surrender to the utterly crap TV willingly.
…absolutely and whole-heartedly, according to these eager masochists:
New Love Island cast look fucking horrendous but ya mad if you think it ain’t gonna be my life for 6 weeks
— Connell Parr (@ConnellParr) May 29, 2018
i cringed the whole time and if you think i’m gonna waste my life tuning in every night to watch this shit then you would be absolutely right https://t.co/asivydbSTq
— ???? ? (@asiaisdead) May 28, 2018
If you expect me to watch Love Island when all they do is pick the same look-a-like people to take part every single year who argue about the same stuff and all have banging bods which makes me feel like a whale then you are absolutely correct, i canny wait x
— Caitlyn Vanbeck (@caitlynvanbeckx) May 29, 2018
the love island cast might look shit at first glance, but will i be watching the show religiously at 9pm every night, checking out the first look previews everyday and analysing/deconstructing the show's events on the group chat afterwards? absolutely.
— chris (@bIandbyname) May 30, 2018
love island looks absolutely awful this year but obvs still gonna watch it religiously every night cba x
— Fiat 500 Twittér ? (@Fiat500Tw1tt3r) May 29, 2018
let’s be honest love island looks shit this year but we’re all gonna watch it religiously.
— Love Island (@LoveIsIandReact) May 30, 2018
Brown went onto outline why viewers demonstrate this ‘dual perspective’, saying we can be ‘partly detached and cynical’ and ‘partly engaged and invested’.
In other words, one minute we can be huffing ‘This is so fake and staged for the cameras’, and the next enthusing
‘I think Kem and Amber are really into each other’.
Brown credited the media-savvy public, adding:
We are all media-savvy enough these days to think ‘meta’ about the TV we watch – where are the cameramen? How come they all look so styled? So we know the difference between Love Island and real life.
But at the heart of the programme is our deepest biological drive, the need for love and acceptance, which makes the chance to watch and analyse a group of people trying to couple up irresistible.
There’s no doubt the setting and the sheer gorgeousness of the contestants is glamorous. But few of us envy them – there’s more of a ‘thank goodness that’s not me’ feeling.
Despite this, we all have our favourites, don’t we?
Caroline Flack said series one still has a ‘special place in [her] heart’, adding:
For me, all three series have been special. The momentum has picked up as it’s gone along, which is always nice to see in a series. I don’t think any series has been more special than another.
love island season two was and always will be the best no competition
— ? grace ? (@gracefituk) May 31, 2018
No love island series will ever compare to series 2. U can get as many birds in as u want but no one will be as class as Liv and Cara and no lad n i mean NO lad will EVER COMPARE 2 ALEX BOWEN
— geebee ? (@georgiafischer9) May 31, 2018
I gen don’t think series 2 of Love Island can be beaten ??♀️
— Beth (@bethjoness1) May 31, 2018
Debating whether or not I can watch love island this year cos NO ONE will ever compare to the Chris and Kem relationship so bye don’t even @ me
— Zoe McGlade (@ZoeMcglade) May 30, 2018
If you don’t you might as well pretend at the water-cooler for fear of being shunned. So why this collective mass appeal?
Brown answered, concluding with the key to Love Island 2018’s inevitable success:
The increase in digital platforms and on-demand TV means it’s rare we’re in sync with our friends and colleagues viewing habits. If we also watch on our personal devices rather than a TV screen, it becomes just another isolating activity.
So a TV programme we all watch when it airs is a welcome antidote.
It’s a way of connecting, forming a temporary ‘tribe’ at work or with groups of friends, but can also make you feel like an outsider, if you’re the only one at work who doesn’t watch. So we can feel a bit ‘bullied’ into joining in.
Feeling that pressure? Need a hand picking?
The populace consensus seems to state contestants Alex Bowen and Olivia Buckland, who are now engaged, made season two the ultimate love story.
You can watch the trials and tribulations of their budding romance in the clip below:
Have we all fallen out of love with all the Love Island ‘waste cadets’? Yes.
Will we still be coupling up with each and every episode, saving it from televisual elimination? You bet.
Will we ever pie it off? Doubtful.
We leave you with this unpopular opinion in summation:
unpopular opinion: love island is the most overrated/fake/shittest show ever and am sick of seeing it everywhere already and it hasn’t even started
— Ellie (@elliethompsson) May 29, 2018
Love Island continues every night – yes, every night – from 9pm on ITV2.
To find a British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) therapist in your area visit their website.
If you have a love story to tell, contact UNILAD via [email protected]
A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.