Love Island review: Friday’s recoupling drama was stagey, insincere and had pretty terrible optics

The series’ 19th episode put the power in the hands of the men, with the seven guys choosing their new partner from a line-up

Charlie Radnedge enters Love Island

It’s recoupling time in the Love Island villa. We all know what that means: a game of musical chairs with the 14 contestants shuffling around their sun-baked paramours just for the hell of it. Does it make for good television? It’s hard to say. It’s all very stagey when they’re all gathered round the fire pit, with all the stagnant tension of a Hercule Poirot drawing room scene – except the only crime here is “having bad chat”.

Before the recoupling even begins, Tasha sows doubt over her partnership with Andrew, suggesting that the relationship has turned her “gooey” and that her natural sassiness is getting smothered. (Or, as she puts it later: “I need to be a badass b****”.) It’s the kind of rote pop psychology you see a lot on this series. Let’s be honest: any genuine hope of authenticity went out the window the moment the cameras started rolling.

At the heart of her dilemma, really, is recently arrived posh boy Charlie, who seems to have turned her head. It feels like the main reason for Charlie’s inclusion in the programme is to give interstitial roastmaster Iain Stirling an open goal – every time the scene switches over to Chuck, we get some quip or another about his transparently wealthy upbringing. The class dynamics of Love Island definitely bear discussion; it’s a shame the series seems uninterested in any real scrutiny beyond a cheap punchline.

Ultimately – and somewhat amusingly – Tasha’s agonising is all for nothing, as Charlie plumps for the people’s champion Ekin-Su. This leaves Andrew to take back a thoroughly underwhelmed Tasha, the pair of them sitting together like Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross at the end of The Graduate. The rest of the episode is dedicated to the insufferable fallout of this, with the two bickering not-really-lovers talking through their problems with anyone who’ll listen.

Even leaving aside the pretty hideous optics of having a group of blokes sit down and unilaterally pick women from a lineup, there’s something quite deadening about the whole recoupling contrivance. Selecting their partner, each of the boys steps forward with a little romantic overture that rings utterly hollow. “Every morning I wake up and I can’t wait to see her face”, Luca says, plucking Gemma from the roster like a schoolkid picking a teammate for football. He’s 23 years old, half a decade into adulthood, and he’s known this girl for a matter of days. Get a grip!

Love Island wants us to root for Paige and Jacques, it seems – at least for now, they seem committed to each other despite being recoupled with other people (Jay and Danica, respectively). At this point, I’ll just root for whoever manages to act their damn age.

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