This year’s Love Island has been like no other. From allegations of coercive behaviour to more than 2,000 “bullying” complaints from viewers, this has been a controversial series.
However, in addition to the annual issues around unrealistic body expectations and their impact on the mindsets of young viewers, we now have an increasingly prevalent undercurrent of misogyny.
With the curtain prepped to fall on this year’s series tonight, here are some of the key takeaways from Love Island 2022.
A strong sisterhood has been prevalent this year, with almost all the female contestants backing each other with regard to acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.
And there has been a deluge of the latter.
We could draw on the epic double standards in terms of “loyalty” displayed by Andrew, Davide, Dami, and Jacques the lad, however, I would like to focus on Luca.
While he might be the only soul in a couple who didn’t enjoy (multiple) dalliances with the new girls during Casa Amor, it’s worth remembering this is the exact same tactic employed by Jake Cornish last year.
Both Jake and Luca egged on the boys in Casa so they could look squeaky clean.
That’s where the comparisons end, however.
Jake thought he could lovebomb Liberty in a bid for a fast track to the final and £50,000 (€60,000), while Luca’s behaviour seems far more sinister to me.
By way of some background: Luca “he sells fish” Bish has been raising the hackles since he started pursuing Gemma Owen.
She might be the super “switched-on” 19-year-old daughter of Michael Owen, but time is running out for her to see exactly what’s going on here.
While Jake tried to convince everyone, including himself, that he loved Liberty to extend his on-screen time, Luca truly believes that Gemma – and her future babies – belong to him.
There are almost too many red flag moments to reference them all, but there have been some standouts.
These include embracing the pack mentality to such a toxic extent that you needlessly gang up on someone (Tasha has been one of Luca’s main targets since she chose Andrew over him in week one).
Another red flag has been body language.
Several times Luca has been seen holding Gemma in locked arms or moving to stop her from physically leaving a conversation. He has also pushed her twice – on camera.
Then there has been the ‘love bombing’.
This year Luca was the first islander to make a point of dropping the L-bomb, leaving Gemma to mumble it in return.
She has said it since with more conviction, but viewers remain sceptical.
Conversely, Luca is the only contestant who hasn’t wanted to put a label on his relationship. Seemingly it’s not his and Gemma’s thing, and that’s just fine.
However, one could assume failing to label a relationship, while also declaring you love the person, implies a reluctance to commit.
After Wednesday’s Mile High challenge, Luca was irked that Gemma managed to throw herself into proceedings alongside her fellow contestants.
Bubbles were splashed, laps were sat on, and necks were licked.
Luca was fine with all the other girls’ antics, but – according to him – Gemma was the one “giving it the most”.
He did his utmost to convince her of that, but Gemma stood her ground, clearly being the more mature of the two despite her still technically being a teen.
Meanwhile, when Movie Night revealed that Gemma had not sufficiently (in Luca’s eyes) spurned Billy’s relentless advancements, Luca said: “Look at her, with a smile on her face. An embarrassment.” It’s worth remembering that Gemma had done nothing wrong.
So unnerving was Luca’s resulting reaction that his family felt compelled to release a statement apologising “on his behalf” and saying that while they don’t condone his behaviour, “we do understand he is in an intense environment where his emotions are heightened”.
This begs the question: if this is how Luca conducts himself publicly, what would he be like in private?
It’s worth remembering that we all need to play a part – no matter how small – in ensuring society doesn’t revert to the dark ages. Having conversations about mutual respect is pivotal.
Luca is lucky to have people in his life who are willing to call out his conduct.
If everyone was just slightly more cognisant of toxic habits and their impacts and collectively held each other accountable, the difference would be phenomenal.