‘Love Island’ is barely worth watching as it is – but don't worry ITV, I know exactly how to fix it

The Love Islanders resemble nothing so much as a school of bottle-nosed dolphins washed up on a beach, but without the famously intelligent cetaceans’ ability to entertain

Sean O'Grady
Wednesday 29 May 2019 15:01
Love island unveils contestants for it's fifth series

I am dreading the return of Love Island. I’ll admit I’m not the target demographic for the show, though I’m thinking the audience might include a surprising proportion of old blokes taking an unusual interest in this particular bikini-clad exemplar of reality TV. I can picture them sat there on the sofa in their underpants with only a tube of Pringles and a bottle of White Lightning for company.

As far as I can gather, the new contestants, announced to much fanfare yesterday, are yet another lot whose doomed quest for love is more likely to take place on a traffic island than some sunkissed beach in the Med.

For a start, they are very strange to look at. This is despite their seemingly strenuous attempts to attain some supposed standard of physical perfection. I noticed last year that there is an almost eugenic ethos to the show in this respect, literally setting the scene to breed a new human being out of two biologically flawless specimens in the most bizarre experiment in selective human breeding seen since Heinrich Himmler stalked this poor old fractured continent of ours.

This year is no different – all teeth and tanned limbs as per usual – except I read that, in response to criticism, ITV has introduced a “token plus-size” contestant into the mix. Great, except that I couldn’t quite make out from the publicity pictures which one that was supposed to be, as they all looked pretty size-minus to me. It seems I'm not the only one confused here – actor Jameela Jamil tweeted a picture of said contestant and said: "The producers of Love Island think this slim woman counts as their new token 'plus size' contestant? Are they drunk?"

I cannot comment on their state of inebriation or lack thereof, but clearly we're both missing something here, as her tweet has garnered a fair amount of controversy. As far as I can see, the only thing plus-size about any of them seems to be their unnatural looking lips. These can be fun in use, yes, in certain circumstances, but they tend to undermine the wearer’s credibility. And none of the chaps are the least bit tubby. No so much as a hint of paunch is permitted to defile their six packs. The most self-aware of them is maybe Sherif Lanre, 20, chef and semi-pro rugger player: “I feel that I make people laugh so I want a girl that makes me laugh, even that’s just from being herself and not trying to be funny…My actual laugh, my hysterical laugh is pretty ugly”. Quite a laugh, then.

Love Island is a fairly boring business. Watching beautiful young people copping off with each other is a bit tedious, especially as they all lack much personality or interest in the world beyond their abs and butts. Their outlook seems studiously unintellectual. Amber Gill, for example, a 21-year-old beauty therapist form Newcastle, is interested in dogs, and she likes guys who are interested in dogs (no jokes, please). On the male side, Sav Berry, 23, is an “influencer, model and internet prankster”, and there can be no higher callings than those.

Most don’t seem bothered about anything, and merely wish to find someone nice to have sex with. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not love – and it doesn’t really require a luxury island.

Sarah Pinnock is the sister of Little Mix star Leigh-Anne Pinnock and has “had her fair share of bad relationships so is well and truly on the look-out for love and a long-term relationship”: Can’t help feeling she is going to be disappointed again.

Love Island will, as ever, be inhabited by a group of glossy manicured bodies shaved so comprehensively that the discovery of a single stray pube would prompt something of a panic. The Love Islanders resemble nothing so much as a school of bottle-nosed dolphins washed up on a beach, but without the famously intelligent cetaceans’ ability to entertain. Let’s just say none of the contestants will be missing the opportunity to engage in the debate about the Conservative party leadership, which is being held on a location far, far away known as Hate Island.

My feminist friends tell me that Love Island is a vehicle to promote heteronormative ideals that are utterly out of date. Do you know what? This time I think I agree with them. It is. It also means that Love Island is more tedious than it needs to be. There’s obviously no LGBT+ presence there, and there should be, just like over here on the mainland. It would really mix things up – literally.

Heterosexual, gay, bisexual, bi-curious, bi-bored, asexual, pansexual, polyamorous, cis, trans, nonbinary, queer, vanilla folks, members of the kink community, fat, thin, hard Brexiteers, people supporting a People’s Vote… just the works. All physical types, all ages, all ethnic and religions, abilities, backgrounds. Diabolists. Anything goes, really.

So that’s my idea of what Love Island should be. An absolute free-for-all, an orgy of diversity and an absolute celebration of love in every possible contorted position. It would be boost ratings, and they could put in on in the mornings (in censored form), in the slot vacated by The Jeremy Kyle Show, the perfect antidote to that daily festival of fear.

You’re welcome, ITV.

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