Love Island episode review: The Danny racism controversy has soured ITV2 show

To alert an islander to what’s being written about him in the press without actually addressing it on the show seems bizarre

Isobel Lewis
Saturday 17 July 2021 09:13 BST
Love Island 2021 contestants revealed

When a contestant enters the Love Island villa, they are cut off from the outside world. Their phones are taken away, they have no access to clocks, and what the public are saying about them remains a mystery.

On Friday (16 July), the barrier keeping reality TV and actual reality apart was briefly torn down by newcomer Danny, as he was forced to apologise from within the villa after a racial slur he posted on a 2019 Instagram photo emerged online. But when the night’s episode aired, it was without reference to the incident – an elephant in the room that soured an hour of TV essentially all about him.

Following the announcement of Danny’s arrival at the end of the previous episode, both Kaz and Sharon excitedly headed out on dates with the new boy. The plumber and high-end clothing store owner was charming, flirting heavily as he hyped up his lofty career ambitions and dislike of “stushy birds” (someone who’s stuck up, apparently). The girls both appeared to fancy him, returning to the villa to gush to the other female islanders about their dates as viewers watched on uncomfortably. While we are often privy to knowledge the contestants don’t have, this one felt particularly unpleasant.

On returning to the villa, though, it became clear that Danny really has eyes for Lucinda. But, while her standard high-pitched drawl did return upon hearing he’s into her, it’s clear the feelings aren’t reciprocated. The whole self-proclaimed “Jack the lad” (yes, he actually says that) thing is a bit much, it would seem.

Meanwhile, our other recent arrival, AJ, got to know the boys with varying results. Her first target, Teddy, let her down nicely, leaving me silently punching the air for Faye. Hugo was, well, Hugo: the hot “best mate” the girls say they want, yet will never actually go for. Like the guy hadn’t already suffered enough after Danny called him an example of “what not to do” with girls. Yikes.

Then there was Liam, who AJ seemed determined to pull for chats upon chats as Millie looked on with gritted teeth. Faced with a new girl, Liam’s already awkward mumblecore flirting became even more indecipherable, he and AJ sitting side by side, gazing straight ahead and refusing to make eye contact like two teenagers trapped on a fairground ride. “She doesn’t come close to you”, Liam reassured Millie. But with all the mixed signals he’s been giving AJ, it’s hard to see this playing out well.

As the girls used their feminine intuition to warn that there was a “funny vibe” in the air, a text arrived announcing that another recoupling is coming on Sunday (18 July). With more girls than boys left, it seems like the writing’s on the wall for either Kaz or Sharon (both in friendship couples). Then the twist was announced. Newcomers AJ will pick first, then Danny, then the rest of the boys, with the remaining girl being dumped. From this episode alone, it seems like AJ is most likely to pick Liam with Danny picking Lucinda, which would throw things up in the air. It’s a genuinely good spin that could shake up some of the show’s more stable couples.

Danny Bibby is the latest contestant to join ‘Love Island’ 2021
Danny Bibby is the latest contestant to join ‘Love Island’ 2021 (ITV)

Shortly before the episode, Danny released a statement via ITV from the villa, apologising for using the slur. It’s hard to tell whether the controversy will be discussed on the show or if ITV will ignore it until he’s (pretty sharply, if Twitter has its say) kicked off the show. But to alert an islander to what’s being written about him in the press without actually addressing it on the show seems bizarre, especially when past islanders have not been given the chance to defend themselves. The fourth wall has been broken, but if the others aren’t told and the show doesn’t address the comments, it’s hard to imagine it not clouding the coming episodes.

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