Monday 19 August 2019

Ciara O'Connor: 'Maura: the girl's girl friend we think we all need'


Maura Higgins
Maura Higgins
Maura Higgins

Ciara O'Connor

Love Island, where sexy adult-children behave as if they have been raised by wolves in pursuit of £50,000 and Instagram sponsorship from car air freshener companies.

Last week saw the most wonderful time of the reality TV year, Casa Amor. It saw boys and girls separated into different villas, and joined by a new batch of influencers/semi-professional athletes to tempt them away from their established partners. Obviously, it's carnage.

Luckily for Maura, the wrong 'un she'd been courting for a bit was dumped, so she got to enter Casa Amor free from the oppressive weight of moral obligation. She was like a kid in a candy shop, the lads were hers for the taking, and no one could say boo.

She, the hero we all need, snogged Dennon on the first night - but conversation with him revealed he wasn't much of a listener. Maura, with impressive self-awareness, acknowledged that although she talks over people all the time, she doesn't like it when people do it to her. She ultimately chose to take another curiously blank-looking fella, Marvin, back to the main villa with her. We haven't really heard Marvin speak, which Maura might quite like.

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Her mission to capture hearts and minds and ultimately end up on the €5 note continued apace: when Amy came back to the villa to discover her half-boyfriend Curtis's head had been turned, she cried to the girls that she was still in love with him. Lucie gently asked "But does he love you?" as the girls tenderly stroked Amy's back, and Maura exploded, "Why're you asking her that? 'Does he love you,' He f*kin' doesn't. It's harsh, babe, but it's the fo*kin' truth."

Initially, it was Maura's unembarrassed sexual frankness, and her unwillingness to compromise on respect in a partner, that made her the runaway fan favourite - but that moment, speaking the much-needed truth to heartbroken Amy, cemented her as the girl's girl friend we think we all need. The internet was in raptures.

Just 48 hours later she decided she'd like Curtis, whom Maura warned Amy off, to teach her how to dance. Who is Maura? What does she stand for? Is she a cyborg created by ITV producers? Who cares. She's incredible television, and that's all that matters.


The medium a celebrity uses to communicate with the people is almost as important as the message itself.

Break-up announcements are best suited to a black screen and the typewriter font on Instagram stories if you're a former Love Island contestant, and on Twitter if you used to be in One Direction.

If you've been embroiled in a cultural appropriation/sexual assault scandal, a screenshot of lengthy prose written on the notes app of your iPhone is the only acceptable way to state your defence.

Tumblr is the natural home to the internet fandoms - extremely devoted fan communities for musicians and TV shows. And it is here Taylor Swift has been running her own account to interact with her 'Swifties' since 2014. It was the natural place for her to drop her lengthy meditation on the sale of her previous record label, along with her back catalogue, to her mortal enemy, music executive Scooter Braun.

Taylor's message about Braun's alleged years of 'bullying' would first be read by her legions of frighteningly supportive fans, ready to deploy across the internet to defend their high priestess in comment sections, before it filtered through to the more sceptical general public and the rest of the industry.

Justin Bieber, signed by Scooter in 2007 and a messy bitch who lives for drama, laid down the gauntlet with an Instagram post: everyone knows that a permanent post, as opposed to a 24-hour story, means serious business.

It's considered. "What were you trying to accomplish by posting that blog? seems to me like it was to get sympathy u also knew that in posting that your fans would go and bully scooter [...] I usually don't rebuttal things like this but when you try and deface someone i loves character thats crossing a line.."

Demi Lovato was more circumspect, leaping to Scooter's defence in Instagram stories with some toxic positivity: "please stop dragging people or bullying them. there's enough hate in this world as it is." Sia chose Twitter, the platform that (wrongly) thinks it's above the childish drama of other socials just because world leaders use it, to tell Braun: "you're a good kind man."

Because she's digitally literate, Cara Delevingne got her two cents in by commenting on Bieber's post - a method with the ring of authenticity, writing: "As a married man, you should be lifting women up instead of tearing them down because you are threatened."

Taylor's former mentor, who sold the label to Scooter, used its blog to address Taylor, an obvious power move to imply a 'rising above' the messiness.


A former Dun Laoghaire children's home known as The Bird's Nest, has been reinvented as a co-living space, for rents of up to €1,500, called The Orphanage. When asked about the name, a spokesperson said: "When you are there, it will become your adopted home."

All over the internet, people ask: who signed off on this? Who thought this was a good idea?

Obviously, the answer is: millennials. They are famous (among themselves) for their a dark sense of humour, for surreal, self-referential memes. For a generation that believes God and government to be dead, irony has become our true north. All very well, in the safe confines of a section of Instagram where hallelujah-hands emojis pass as informed comment.

I can imagine the conversations in the pink warehouse boardroom, eight 27- to 32-year-olds sat on bouncy hoppers, giving ironic PowerPoint presentations: "So, in this slide you'll see that the property was opened as an orphanage in 1859 by a Mrs Smyly. We've imagined a Mrs Smyly for marketing purposes, using Meryl Streep and the Babadook as references. We would market it at depressed millennials with a taste for irony - which is all of them! Strapline: 'Smyly's, it might never happen!' But 'it' has already happened, which is why fully grown adults are having to live in souped-up student halls! It's hilarious!"

"OK, OK, but what if we ran with the whole 'orphanage' thing instead? Like, aren't we essentially a generation of orphans? I mean, I basically became an orphan at 31 when my parents said they wanted to downsize. Like, that was my home. I totally would have gone for somewhere called The Orphanage just for the lols. Can you imagine? And tbh, what kid who grew up on Oliver!, Annie and Tracy Beaker didn't want to live in an orphanage for a bit? Honestly, it's like completely nostalgic and hilarious, people are going to love it."

RIP irony.



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