Sunday 18 August 2019

Life lessons from Love Island

As the show enters its final week, avid viewer Catherine O’Mahony reflects on what it’s taught us about life, love, and troublesome trousers

Keeping it real: Irish islanders Yewande Biala, Maura Higgins (pictured) and Greg O’Shea stand out from the rest of the contestants
Keeping it real: Irish islanders Yewande Biala, Maura Higgins (pictured) and Greg O’Shea stand out from the rest of the contestants
Yewande Biala
Greg O’Shea

Catherine O’Mahony

We've been glued to our screens for nearly eight weeks now, and with Monday night's Love Island finale looming, it's safe to say we've learnt many vital lessons about life, love, and the universe from the show. Don't believe me? Read on....

1 Irish people are reassuringly different

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Superficially, this year's batch of three Irish Love Island contestants looked more or less identical to everyone else on the show; shiny, buff and lip-filled. But, looks apart, it turns out nothing has changed; Irish people are still in some odd way that little bit distinctive.

First there was Yewande Biala, a woman in possession of the kind of extreme aversion to showing her feelings you would expect from an old Kerry bachelor. Go Yewande.

Next came Maura Higgins, sweetly pretty at first look, but with a tongue so sharp and a delivery so strident that within a couple of weeks she was being hailed as a miracle of modern feminism - and I mean this went global. Much kudos, and a possible presenting stint on ITV, await her when she exits.

And finally there was late-arrival and charming rugby player Greg O'Shea, who - it quickly emerged - was hiding a farmer's tan under his Essex-boy disguise, and an impulse for discretion around his first kiss with Amber that set him apart from the herd.

It all goes to prove that you can take a Love Island wannabe out of Ireland but you just can't take Ireland out of any of them.

Most Irish moment of the series: when Maura was shocked that there were leftover breakfast pastries and stole one for her partner. Too right! What loon would be wasting croissants?

2 Love Island blokes can't wear pants

It was an unexpected but unbreakable rule of the Love Island villa that any man who ditched his daytime shorts for long pants of an evening ended up with some abomination on his pegs. It is as though some genetic inability to wear pants reasonably had struck the male members of the cast. There was uber-muscled Michael Griffith with his teeny tiny Communion trousers. There was Jordan Hames in pale blue cropped cotton trews, that came with a matching top, like a hospital orderly's. There was Chris Taylor whose skinny knees protruded bumpily through the rips in white jeans so tight you worried for his circulation. And so it went on. Only Londoner Ovie Soko - despite being 6 foot 7 - appeared to own trousers that fitted him. Who knew trousers were so troublesome?

3 There's an art to a graceful exit

Air stewardess Amy Hart was devastated when "half-boyfriend" Curtis Pritchard abruptly decided he wasn't all that keen after all, while she was busily planning their future together (she'd never had a boyfriend before so got a tad over-excited). After some unattractive bouts of crying on-screen, she wisely decided she was better off leaving him to it. So off she went, exiting with dignity, having had a gracious chat with her former beau, who was left to make a holy show of himself in front of millions while she hobnobbed with Robbie Williams at parties.

Nice call, and well executed, Amy.

4 Endless options are not a good thing

The trouble with populating a reality TV show only with a parade of the most gleamingly attractive of young human beings (physically, in any case) is that some of them will inevitably find it tricky to stay focused on the pursuit of love.

Such was the case with Liverpudlian Michael Griffith, who started off sweet as pie with a credible fledgling romance with Amber Gill, before he suddenly and bafflingly declared she'd been a terrible Love Island partner, repeated this nonsense to everyone that would listen, and then promptly ran off with another girl.

As if that weren't bad enough, he then did a U-turn when Girl 2 was voted off the show, tried to get a clearly flummoxed Amber back and then performed a final about-turn on exiting the show himself, at which point he said it was Girl 2 he wanted all along. Confused? Everyone was. The boy needs a long cold shower.

5 Slow and steady can win any race

If someone had told me that a laconic chap with an aversion to drama and a fondness for quirky hats might do well on Love Island, I'd have been sceptical. But Londoner Ovie has done nothing since starting on the show but sit about having a laugh, occasionally dispensing low-key advice to his more excitable cast members, seemingly unfazed by his difficult-to-understand failure - until the closing days of the show - to attract a woman. The fact that of all the cast, he best fits the description of tall, dark and handsome makes it all the more surreal. But cheers to Ovie, a lone cool dude bobbing serenely amidst a frantic sea of wannabes.

6 Sex is best when it's not on telly

This season was, by all accounts, the least overtly sexy of all the Love Islands to date, which was top news for those of us who worried that even the suggestion of any kind of on-camera action would make us feel like perverts. This was possibly because of a deliberate decision by the producers not to show any x-rated scenes to encourage family viewing, or (less likely) a decision by the participants in the show to exercise restraint. Either way, I can't be the only one grateful to be (mostly) spared.

7 Veneers are not the answer

You'd think a mouthful of nice white teeth would be a good thing. And perhaps it is, in moderation. And yet somehow, when everyone's teeth are as giant and gleaming and freakishly perfect as they are on Love Island, you find yourself only desperate for a nice gappy imperfect smile. Of the entire cast only one chap, Jordan, displayed truly normal gnashers - and they looked amazing. Love Island has thus officially cured me of any desire to remortgage the house to fix my teeth. My bank manager is grateful.

8 Philosophy dwells in strange places

'It is what it is' was the mantra of this year's Love Island. The dictionary translates this as follows: "The situation, circumstance, or outcome has already happened or been decided or established, so it must be accepted even if it is undesirable.''

Obvs, this was a sentence far too long to hold the interest of a Love Islander so it was the snappier version that was intoned approximately 500 times per episode. It proved a handy way of ending a conversation about nothing very much without actually saying anything (which may well be the key to surviving the entire Love Island experience). It could be worth trying it out - in full-on Estuary English, perhaps? - to smooth out the cracks in your working day. Give it a go.

And roll on 2020.

Irish Independent

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