In Defence of Love Island
Photography by Ell Field.
Love Island, on paper, isn't my type. I was adamant about this last year. I don't really like reality TV, or TV in general that much so I didn't see why this daily reality TV show would be for me. All of my friend's watched it and were trying to convince me to join in but I wasn't even willing to put one of my eggs in the TV show's basket. For the first few weeks, I stayed loyal to the fact that I'd never really liked reality TV and I just KNEW that it would be the same with this TV show. But I well and truly mugged myself off. After seeing snippets of it last year through my sister and boyfriend watching it, I slowly became interested. That interest grew and now I would call myself a dedicated fan of the show and I am so happy that my friends' grafting in trying to convince me to watch the show paid off, because I love it so much. Ok, I'm done with casually slipping Love Island lingo into this blog post (for now...), so please carry on reading, especially if you don't watch the show and were very confused by that introduction.
Despite the show gaining popularity like no other over the years, I've spoke to so many people who still have reservations about it, ohhell, I was one of them last year (ok ok I promise that was the last reference, especially to Dr Alex who I am not a fan of). These reservations are usually/always based on the fact that watching it every night for 2 months is a waste of time, which from an outside perspective is a valid point. But in this post I am going to explain why watching Love Island, and the show's existence in itself, is not a waste of time. With the show's final being aired tomorrow (*sobs*) and the fact that I am wearing a dress that was worn by Liverpool's very own Hayley on the show which is now part of Missguided's 'Love Island Collection' (even though I bought it last year before it was part of it but let's just ignore that), I thought this would be an apt place and time to express my love for the show and explain why I am annoyed at my past self for refusing to watch it until half way through Season 3.
The first argument against Love Island that I want to talk about is that it's a waste of time to watch it because it's a waste of time to watch any type of TV, but especially this kind, every night for 2 months, because this is the one that was most valid for me last year. I'm not trying to say that watching Love Island every night boosts my intelligence and makes me a better person because, quite frankly, it doesn't. But it provides me with a form of escapism like no other. In fact, watching the show is my ultimate escapist activity, switching off from my own life completely and becoming engrossed in the lives of others for an hour. As someone who can become obsessed with doing work and being productive, Love Island is the best method I've ever found for switching off, and the fact that it allows me to switch off every day for an hour just before I go to bed, is perfect. Not only this but it happened to start this year on the day of my last university exam, meaning it really got me into the swing of taking time to myself over summer. For people who can switch off and relax easily, this might not be a big deal. But for many, I think Love Island provides an hour a day in which they can stop thinking about everything else going on in their lives, which can be so beneficial for many and I think is a reason why so many people love the show.
The second main argument against Love Island is that the content of the show is vain and contributes absolutely nothing to our society, expect perhaps perpetuating negative attitudes. As I briefly mentioned earlier, you are not going to get the same benefits from watching Love Island as reading an encyclopedia but that's not why anyone watches it. But despite the fact that Love Island is an escapist activity for me and for many, the issues that are inherently wrong with the show itself and that arise from the activities within the villa provide important societal discussion points. For example, the TV show does have a body image issue, this one is non-negotiable. Everyone in the villa has the 'ideal body' and, of course, this can have a negative effect on more vulnerable viewers. But the fact that this is the case has started a huge discussion on the subject, on social media and beyond and perhaps brought the issue to the attention of those who might have dismissed it in the past. I hope Love Island rectifies this issue in the next series by recruiting contestants of different shapes and sizes, reflecting the real world in a real way but, as much as I don't like to use this as an excuse, no TV show, or book, or anything is perfect and sometimes being able to use something as a point of discussion and criticism can be irrevocably useful.
Love Island has incited some really interesting conversations this year, from body image, to race, to female friendships and other feminist issues. A weekly podcast that I've loved listening to is 'Under Cover Lover', an unofficial Love Island podcast that dives deep into all of these issues and that has encouraged me further to watch Love Island critically, something I can't really help but doing anyway. The fact that I can watch something in this way, having these interesting conversations about it whilst also still living my escapist dreams is the perfect scenario and the main reason why I think Love Island is so brilliant.
If you have been watching Love Island, I hope you're not too sad about it ending tomorrow. If you are, do what I'm going to do and go back and watch the previous series on Netflix and/or send me a message so we can chat about it (I could do this for hours). I'd also love to hear who you are rooting for to win! I'm a loyal (no Georgia-reference intended) and die-hard Jack & Dani fan but I was shocked to hear that more than one of my friends is rooting for Kaz & Josh, so I'd love to hear your opinions. If you haven't watched Love Island this year, you're probably a bit late to start. But I hope this blog post has convinced you that it's not a waste of your time, whether you're looking for something to calm you down or if you love partaking in a bit of critical conversation. There's always next year to start watching it... or ITV Hub but don't say I didn't warn you of the binging that will take place if you go for the second option.