Sunday 18 August 2019

Ciara O'Connor: 'Going by the Love Island book, Molly and Tommy should really have won'

Millennial Diary

Greg and Amber’s win was a vote for managed expectations, and Ireland
Greg and Amber’s win was a vote for managed expectations, and Ireland

Ciara O'Connor

Tommy and Molly-Mae should have won Love Island. According to the laws, customs, and hallowed traditions handed down by four series of the reality show, Tommy and Molly-Mae should have been the only ones with a shot at the 50k win.

They were together from the start, became boyfriend and girlfriend, said they loved each other; and on their final date they agreed to move in together. They are basically indistinguishable from last year's winners Jack and Dani, and the year before's Kem and Amber. Indeed, in the traditional way, Tommy is an extremely sweet dunderhead and Molly a shrewd careerist. Probably. We think.

Jack/Dani and Kem/Amber barely lasted six months after their win, and the flurry of break-ups around last Christmas from the class of '18 was sobering, forcing us to confront the reality of reality TV.

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And this year, the voting public finally called bullshit on Love Island. The professions of love and finding "the one" and having "never been happier" rang hollow, when we all know the fate of sickly sweet Tommy and Molly.

Amber and Greg's win, having only been coupled up for the bones of a (very happy) week, was a vote for managed expectations. Greg and Amber hadn't made any grand gestures or promises they couldn't keep. They just seemed to really like each other: it was a vote for hope, and fun, and a bit of cop-on. It was a vote against emotional incontinence and playing up to cameras; it was almost a vote against Love Island itself.

And of course, as Brexit ravages the UK it was a vote for Ireland, backstops, and a relationship. It was an apology.

On the penultimate day in the villa, the islanders' parents visit to tell their kids how proud they are and meet their partners, whom they've watched being all over their darling children for weeks on national television.

We watched with terrible glee as Maura's clearly sceptical mother impressed upon her daughter that she knows Maura would say if "something wasn't right".

We won't speculate about what Maura's mother might find "not right" about Curtis.

Greg's mother gave Amber a present of a shamrock pendant. In the great tradition of presents-from-your-mother-in-law, it was sweet but dreadful.

The final night is always a treat to watch, in a car-crash kind of way. The boys are given tuxedos and the girls go "shopping" for elegant long dresses and they all have to write "declarations of love" to read to their partner under a floral arch, in front of all their fellow islanders. Obviously, it's completely mortifying - like the world's most depressing humanist shotgun wedding.

Naturally, everyone found the writing task difficult and intimidating - not least because some of them hadn't seen a pen and paper in two months. How to make a "declaration" to someone who isn't even your girlfriend, without sounding insincere or like an asshole?

Greg wasn't flustered, and his speech could well be what won it for him: in the great Irish literary tradition, he wrote a poem. It was funny and sweet and didn't make anyone want to be sick in their mouth. Every female viewer looked from the screen, to their partners sprawled on the couch next to them in a cocoon of crumbs and broken dreams, and back to the screen again at Greg's twinkly eyes and wondered where it all went wrong.

Amber, resplendent in floor-length white, wore the necklace. Perhaps she just thought it would be rude not to; but Greg's mother and the rest of Ireland knew what it really meant: I will convert; I will not steal your darling boy-child from his home; our children will be Irish, and their children too; I hereby renounce Newcastle and England and all its works and all its empty promises; for you, I am Irish.

Yes, we thought as we saw her smiling at our boy under the arch, the green shamrock glinting at her beautiful neck - she's all right.

It meant that we didn't begrudge Greg travelling straight to her hometown after the win; we didn't mind the picture he shared of himself at a Newcastle gym, shur it's only right that he makes peace with Amber's people before spiriting her back to Limerick to begin her life as an Irish Model and WAG.

It's almost enough to bring a tear to your eye. Failte, Amber - love the necklace, girl.

*******

It is said that the monks went to Skellig Michael in the sixth century to emulate the extreme sacrifice and self-exile of St Anthony. They required dwellings that were both functional and spiritual, and over the centuries they developed beehive-shaped huts out of local rocks, to shield them from the harsh weather coming in off the sea.

In 2019, hardly a week goes by without a story about Kim Kardashian plagiarising sunglasses, or kids' clothes, or fragrance logos, or offending an entire people by blithely appropriating their cultural dress, or hairstyle. Her husband Kanye has largely managed to steer clear of such raised eyebrows in his business ventures, largely because his stuff is too ugly for anyone else to have thought of first. But last week we were given the first glimpse of Kanye's new "social housing project", dubbed YEEZY Home - the rapper's idea for "breaking barriers that separate classes" - and the 'houses' looked pretty familiar.

Kanye's hyper-modern solution to the housing and inequality crisis is putting people in those ancient Irish beehives - admittedly, his are 50ft tall and presumably will enjoy a certain amount of plumbing. As for his plan to house the homeless underground in "sunken" homes - well, even those ancient monks devoted to a life of ascetic deprivation wouldn't have thought of that.

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