Tuesday 16 January 2018

5 reasons why guilty TV pleasure Love Island is the antidote to life right now

The Love Island hopefuls have landed in the villa
The Love Island hopefuls have landed in the villa
Amber on Love Island. PIC: ITV
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

It's all a bit grim isn't it? Between Trump, Brexit, the DUP's deal with Theresa May, a spate of terror attacks, and all manner of other horrors filling up our newsfeeds lately it seems like we're teetering on the brink of the apocalypse.

It's at times like these, when it all gets a little overwhelming, that escapism becomes a life skill.

Many of us will spend a small fortune on cinema tickets to see turkeys like Baywatch and The Mummy, others will hit up Netflix for a Better Call Saul bingefest, and some will bury their heads in the latest Sebastian Barry.

Me?  I'll be watching Love Island.

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There is no better way to escape the daily grind than watch an episode of the hit ITV2 show which takes 12 aesthetically pleasing singletons and plants them in a beautiful villa in Majorca to see if they fall in love (or, let's be honest, lust).

It's not prestige TV, and that's exactly the point.  The Handmaid's Tale may be an infinitely superior hour of telly which ticks literally every box on the prestige TV check list and more, but nobody can deny it is nerve-shreddingly traumatic viewing. 

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Ofglen (Alexis Bledel) in The Handmaid's Tale. PIC: Channel 4

Even the BBC's Poldark is a bit grey, a bit grim (despite its heaving bosoms and rippling torsos).

If you're going to resort to rippling torsos to help your brain wind down and escape then you might as well succumb to Love Island.

Here are 5 reasons why it's the perfect antidote to life right now:

The premise

The entire show is geared towards getting people to have sex on TV.  Ironically, the sex scenes (of the infra red, blurry, under-the-duvet Big Brother variety) are the least interesting aspect of the show.  And probably account for less than 1 per cent of running time.

What is most interesting about the premise is that the focus is on relationships.  And while some men and women choose to couple up, others are forced to pair up because they either haven't been chosen or someone has chosen the person they like.

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It makes for interesting dynamics, and more than a few bruised egos.  Think early days Big Brother, before all the ridiculous tasks and brazen wannabes took precedence over the most interesting aspect - relationships.

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Dom and Jess on Love Island. PIC: ITV

On Love Island they have to work together to stay in the game.  There's plenty of double crossing, lies and tactical voting, but also genuine friendships and romance that will warm the cockles of your heart. 

At the end of the series, the winning couple are asked if they want to split the £50,000 cash prize or whether one of them will take it all. There's a lot at stake for the individuals and it makes for an explosive finale.

The voiceover

Scottish comedian, writer and TV presenter Iain Stirling is hands down the best thing about Love Island.  The 29-year-old's witty one-liners, puns, and comments are spit-your-tea-out funny.

Speaking last year he said, "I show up, watch the show, think of some funny things to say and then speak over people having sex with each other.

“I get to go to Majorca for six weeks and chill. I never thought my life would come to this but it has. It’s brilliant. I really enjoy it.”

Think Marcus Bentley with a smidgen more smut and you've got Iain.

The location

Expect to spend every single episode declaring, 'If I win the Euromillions I'm buying that villa.'  It's the ultimate property porn.  And they're in Majorca.  It's always sunny.  What's not to love?

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Love Island villa. PIC: ITV2

The contestants

Whilst at first glance they all appear to fit the tanned, toned, ridiculously good-looking criteria, this year the producers have at least tried to mix it up a bit, with at least two contestants who can hold an intellectual conversation (not that they get much chance) and a few male and female bodies that sit nearer the 'normal' range than usual.

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Camilla gets upset in the diary room after trying to explain feminism to Johnny

The cheesy dates

Lemon picking anyone? Or how about dinner on the driveway? Iain gets great mileage out of the spots where the contestants are expected to get flirty.

Caroline Flack

The aptly named Flack doesn't let the contestants away with anything when they emerge from the villa for a grilling from the presenter on sister show Aftersun.  There's no beating around the bush Emma Willis style with Caroline.

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Caroline Flack hosts ITV's Love Island

The Love Island lexicon

Bringing together contestants from the length and breadth of Britain, from Edinburgh to Essex, there's bound to be a melting pot of terminology.  This series they've all been getting 'the ick' a la Amber - when they start to get turned off by someone they've coupled up with.

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Amber on Love Island. PIC: ITV

Love Island airs ever night (except Saturdays) on ITV2 at 9pm.  And 3e at 9pm.

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