Tuesday 20 August 2019

Ciara O'Connor: 'Maura is carrying 'Love Island''

Maura Higgins
Maura Higgins

Ciara O'Connor

Every time I think reality TV has already created the most complex character in its long and illustrious history, and we have seen all there is to see, Maura strips off another layer of the metaphorical onion of her personality and leaves us reeling from her intricate humanity.

It was yet another week which made us ask, what would Love Island be without Maura Higgins? Are her shoulders aching from carrying the entire show? Is she on ITV's payroll? A plant, an undercover producer? But she can't be, because you just couldn't write Maura. No one would believe it.

She started off the week technically coupled up with Marvin, or as he's more commonly known, 'Marvin?,' whom she scooped up in Casa Amor for the crack. A last-minute decision, like nipping into the Zara sale in your lunch break and opening your bag that evening to find the most unlikely of ill-fitting viscose panic purchases, because you had to get something.

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Unlike those jazzily patterned culottes though, Marvin proved painless to return, and after a spectacular double break-up by herself and Lucie, Maura was once again a free agent.

Mystifyingly, she set her sights on Curtis, someone she had apparently fancied since day one.

This tipped his ex-half-girlfriend Amy over the edge. The unlucky air-hostess fell on her sword, nobly sacrificing herself for Curtis's happiness: he could not, she told him through misty eyes, move on while she was still there. The music swelled. She had to leave. So off she went, meaning the viewers and Maura no longer had to look at her broken buzz-killing face and could proceed with sexy abandon. And proceed Maura did. The (internet) headlines detailed her salacious antics to seduce the terrified (potentially virginal) ballroom dancer: as part of a challenge, she gave him a lap dance, finishing it straddling him with a snog. She asked a nonplussed Tommy, "Don't you think he'd look so much better with my legs wrapped around his head?"

But that wasn't the most outrageous Mauraism, the truly shocking moments came when she was just chatting to him. She was, and there's no other way to put it, bashful. It was jaw-dropping - the inhibition, the girlish giggling and shyness. Just when we thought we'd seen it all, Maura pulled the rug out from under us. No one knows why she, who deserves Barack Obama, fancies this grating Benjamin Button-boy, but we had no choice but to believe it. She was an adorable mess. It was, possibly, the first time we'd seen Maura with an actual crush and not just horny fanny-flutters.

Curtis, disturbingly appearing to initiate some manner of dirty talk, mused that her wipe-clean sexy cat costume must be hard to take off; Maura said it was, yeah, when she goes to the toilet she has to take the whole thing off. She quickly righted herself, " - and I'm wearing no panties".What ensued was the most uncomfortable television of 2019 (and I watch Caroline Flack attempting to present Aftersun) as they falteringly 'bantered' about Maura being a 'naughty' student to Curtis's dance teacher.

It's difficult to understand what Maura sees in Curtis, objectively the worst man (sorry, 'young man') in the villa. But there must be something, some pheromones or witchcraft, because Maura soon found herself with a love rival: new arrival, Francesca. Francesca went on a date with Curtis and Ovie, scientifically the greatest man in the villa, and possibly in the world. But she didn't fancy him, which leads me to conclude she is a cyborg or some kind of avant-garde performance artist, musing on desire and subversion. She liked Curtis, and Curtis liked her too. He told Maura he wanted to get to know both of them, and primal screams of desperate rage went up around the country: hasn't Maura been through enough?

When it came round to recoupling, Francesca got to pick from the line-up of blow-dried pink-shirted skinny-legged vajazzled men (there had been a 'glitter party'). She chose Curtis, and as he went to embrace her we could feel our hearts breaking just a little bit. Maura had to pick last, and she was left with poor old Marvin or the new guy Chris with whom she had been on a lacklustre date. Through gritted teeth, she went for the latter.

Afterwards, Maura wept, surrounded by a human shield of clucking gal-pals. We never saw her face, just heard those huge gasping sobs. That felt right somehow; respectful. This season, we haven't blinked watching wet tongues sliding in and out of other people's mouths, close ups of bouncing bottoms and night-vision sex faces. But Maura's tears were too intimate for the public that has become her loyal cabal. Another layer of the onion shed. I'm glued.

*******

It's been a dark week for fast fashion: the man who launched a thousand, "Thanks, girl! Penneys!" Arthur Ryan was laid to rest, and the devastating effects of a no-deal Brexit on Irish millennials became clear.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has been assessing a 'disorderly Brexit' and warning consumers online clothes purchases could be subject to tariffs, VAT and Customs duties - it would be like buying from China or the US, which no one does because would you be bothered? Paying the extra at point of delivery by An Post? But that's not the worst of it; the Irish Independent brought the issue home to millennials across the country: an Asos order of €173 would end up costing €266.23.

No longer bound by EU regulations, UK-based retailers may change their refund policy. And the tax implications of returning (not getting back everything you paid) could endanger the sacred millennial cultural practice of drunk/depressed ordering of €300 worth of clothes we have no intention of keeping.

Sunday Independent

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