Love Island – yes or no?
How are you spending these balmy July weekday evenings? Taking a stroll to admire views of our region’s verdant, bucolic countryside? Imbibing a glass of rosé while doing some pruning in the garden? A whirlwind of glamorous summer parties perhaps? Or maybe, like most of the Muddy office, you’re slumped on the sofa, curtains closed, glued to Love Island? Not familiar with the ITV2 ratings-winner reality show? (Have you been in a coma?!).
It’s the one where highly attractive – yet devastatingly dim – twentysomethings embark on relationships with complete strangers over a six week period. Big Brother with more shagging and skimpier outfits, basically. Anyone who remains single gets sent home from the Mallorçan paradise, with viewers voting at the end for the best couple. We’re all in agreement that it’s weirdly compelling but opinion is very much divided around our watercooler as to the show itself. Amazing or awful? Yes or no? Muddy’s founder Hero Brown and associate editor Kerry Potter duke it out.
‘NO. Kill me now’, says Kerry
So little time, so many questions. Where do they find such hideous swimsuits? What’s it like when your doting parents have watched you have live sex on primetime TV? Who is that girl who’d never heard of Brexit (lucky her) and thought Essex was a continent for real? Why is there no body shape diversity and minimal racial diversity? Was whoever invented men’s jeggings having a laugh? And more generally – just why? Why, oh why? I know I sound like a retired sergeant major spluttering on his sherry but Love Island is utter drivel. I keep hearing people who should know better intellectualizing it as a fascinating anthropological experiment but all I see is preening narcissists with the depth of a puddle.
It’s so depressing to hear a man utter things like, “There’s a 50 percent chance I’ll like her – depending on whether she’s a blonde or brunette.” Because hair colour is key to finding lasting love, right? (What happens if, god forbid, he meets a ginger – does his brain explode?) I’m also uneasy with this genre of TV that goads us into laughing at not-very-bright working class kids (see also: Jade Goody, Joey Essex). I’m no cultural snob – I’ve never met a Jackie Collins book I didn’t enjoy and I actually paid money to see the second Sex And The City movie – but Love Island is so trashy it needs to go in the bin.
‘YES. Obsessed,’ says Hero
OK, it is inarguably trashy and we’re unlikely to see the contestants on Mastermind any time soon (specialist subject: the vagaries of fake tan). But I’ve got a big soft spot for Love Island. Those puppy-like girls and guys grow on you the more you watch and the more you get to know them – once you get beyond the heavy-handed hair gel and fake eyelashes, most of them are decent, normal kids looking for love, just like almost everyone else on the planet.
But what I really like about it is how it provides a brilliant opportunity for us parents of teens to bond with our offspring. I don’t spend much time with my 15-year-old son these days but we both relish a Love Island viewing session – we laugh at the relentless vanity, have debates about how to behave in a relationship and muse on body image. If I tried to talk to him about that kind of stuff in any other context, he’d run a mile. A friend says the same – she watches each episode with her daughters, pausing it every few minutes to use the issues raised as a jumping off point for intimate mother/daughter chats. So bravo Love Island, you’re an inspiration. So much so I’m off to buy a thong bikini, babe.
What about you? Are you a hater or a rater?
Love Island is on itv2 most nights from 9pm.