I'm worried about Love Island
Covid has changed us - even Love Islanders.
The horniest islanders yet. Pure chaos. Nature healing.
This is what people are expecting from the first series of Love Island following the emergence of Covid-19. We’re filled with hope that a year of lockdowns and casual sex being banned will amplify the best bits of the show we’ve missed - making all the bikini-ed contestants perfectly primed to create the escapist watch we’ve needed.
But I’m worried we’ve overlooked the other impact of the past year.
You know, the year that didn’t just make single people horny, but also sad, lonely, socially awkward messes, grappling with depression and questioning their life’s purpose.
Can anyone truly throw themselves into cracking on with hot people with the weight of the past year on their shoulders? Will we see a break in the show’s usual rhythms and routines, as someone pauses and questions why they’re bothered about a generic set pf walking abs when death and illness has become an ever-looming presence, a ghost waiting for them to relax before tapping them on the shoulder and saying hey, what if everything you’re doing is pointless?
Global trauma does not make for good reality TV. Depressed people (and I say this with love, because I am a depressed person) are not fun to watch. Misery tends to zap your motivation and make everything - even attractive people and challenges where you have to carry food in your mouth and spit it on to someone else’s tongue - completely uninteresting.
I fear the islanders’ overwhelming mood will be ‘tired’, that they’ll really struggle to muster up the energy to care.
And then there’s the conversation.
I hope, with a desperate urgency, that ITV has given this batch of islanders a course on post-pandemic socialising. And that they’ve banned them from asking the question ‘so, how was lockdown for you?’ or discussing how they’ve become quite used to wearing face masks, so the bottom of their face now feels sort of naked, but they’re glad they’re not getting chin acne now, but have you tried silk face masks, because they’ve really made a difference, ooh no, well I’ll have to give those a go after this.
If you’ve returned to the office or properly hung out with friends, you’ll know how deeply you’ve forgotten how to socially interact, how making eye contact and asking questions and actually listening to someone’s reply, rather than planning what on earth you’re going to say next, feels like a strange, stilted performance.
How do you flirt now? How do you have funny, meme-able banter? What do you talk about, once you cycle through the cliches and rehearsed chats? Can Love Island handle the big post-lockdown questions of hey, so did you completely reevaluate your life? Does everything you do feel stupid now? Did you lose anyone? Did you lose your mind? How many times did you feel lonely? What self-destructive coping mechanism have you adopted? Do you hate your body now, or just your face, after a year of studying its asymmetry?
What if some of the islanders are anti-lockdown, or, worse, antivax? What if it turns out that one of them was going to illegal raves while another one wasn’t allowed to go to their cousin’s funeral because of restrictions?
A year of coronavirus has changed us all - even wannabe influencers and blonde women who adore square-headed mixed-race men.
We can only hope that the producers have taken this into account, and that they’re fully prepared to de-neuroticise, to provide motivation when things seem futile, and to ensure no one does that stupid ‘ooh, are we elbow-bumping or hugging now?’ thing.
We need Love Island now, and we need it to be the way it always has been before: completely unreal reality TV that in no way reflects our lives, our bodies, our minds. Take us away from ourselves, ITV2, and don’t you dare hold up any sort of mirror to who we’ve become post-lockdown.