There are usually three different types of couple that emerge from Love Island. First, you have “the non-couple”, whose romance ends as swiftly as it started. Their outside world relationship lasts mere weeks before they swap declarations of chemistry for quick singledom on the celebrity circuit.
Then there are the “make-it-work” couples, unlikely pairings that find love during the mid-point of their villa stint – think Siannise and Luke T from series six, or Alex and Olivia from series two.
Finally, there are what I like to call “endgame” couples. These are duos who have remained together from the get-go. They have faced bumps in the road, but have never uncoupled, never swapped partners and certainly never shared a bed in Casa Amor. It’s these couples that often face the most arduous journeys outside of the villa; they promise so much but, for whatever reason, deliver so little.
As series seven’s only “endgame” couple, Liberty and Jake were always going to have the furthest to fall. Set-up immediately as a one-sided relationship, with Jake’s initial doubts contrasted against Liberty’s quick infatuation, “Jiberty” have seemed destined to reach this crucial plot point. But, can we trust Jake, and is he as invested in this relationship as he claims?
With a public perception challenge underway, watching Liberty realise that we, the viewing public, questioned her relationship, was akin to watching a very small, and very adorable balloon animal, being slowly deflated. As the subtle disquiet around Liberty and Jake’s relationship situation spread around the villa, even her fellow “babes” realised not all was well. Kaz, Faye and Chloe even made their doubts known to Tyler, Teddy and Toby.
Of course, all of this looks terrible on TV. Jake being unable to eloquently communicate how he feels, makes him look terrible. Jake reiterating over and over (and over) that Liberty is his girlfriend, makes him look terrible. Jake taking his sweet, sweet time to say “I love you” back, makes him look terrible. Collectively, these moments make for easy editing, his flushed face and over-exaggerated gestures only reinforcing our collective distrust. The script has already been written, but how much can we trust it?
Jake is not perfect. Compared to the beauty and grace of Liberty, his imperfection is made all the more clear. However, isn’t there something palpably dangerous about the way we’re scrutinising his actions based on an hour of TV? We can say he doesn’t deserve her; that she is an angel and he is... not. But I am wary of going any further when pathologically breaking down our islanders’ actions.
After Faye and Teddy’s argument, social media was ablaze with speculative mental health issues being applied to Faye’s rant, which in turn could be more damaging to contestants’ mental health once they leave the villa. Is this the behaviour of a pathological liar, manipulator and gaslighter, or just someone figuring out how to fall in love on a reality TV show and getting things wrong in the process?
On balance, I’m not yet willing to believe that Jake doesn’t want to be with Liberty. Yes, he needs to learn how to provide the verbal affection and reassurance his partner desires and, yes, he has (lots of) grovelling to do. But, only in the aftermath of this series, in the weeks and months to come, will we know where his true intentions lie.
With Jake returning those three, hallowed words (he did it, guys), lest we forget our lord and saviour Molly-Mae and Tommy Fury, a couple that the public once adamantly believed was faking it for the cameras, but are still going strong. For now, it looks like Jiberty are back on stable ground, but will the doubts of their fellow islanders prove harder to shrug off?
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