Everyone knows Love Island is light entertainment. Yet people still enjoy affixing deep political discussions with words like ‘ideology’ and ‘systematic’ onto a show that pits dozens of uber-attractive people against one another for eight long weeks. And we all love to watch. So, as the aftershock from the 2019 series rumbles on, here’s some more fuel to light the burning fury that accompanies the series.
Love Island is a matriarchy. The gender imbalance is abundantly clear from the advertising on television: the exclusively female fashion emphasis, the glitter, and the women-orientated products.
The show’s composition fundamentally favours women. While the ladies look as trim and unblemished as when they arrived, the men’s muscles are softer, their abs less cut and through the longevity of the series it is the boys that unravel on our screens the most drastically.
But the programme’s biggest imbalance is its paradoxical demands for chivalry, respect and devotion while simultaneously inciting people to ‘speak their mind’ and tell each other how they feel.
In Love Island, it is catastrophic for any man to have second thoughts. No hero is ever perfect, yet any minor loss of face spells disaster for a man, who is quickly shuffled off (anyone remember Tom? Jordan?). Perhaps most dangerous is that any deviation in pure, honest devotion to their lady is lambasted as a crime.
Perhaps Love Island’s impossible demands can only be met by a contestant like Tommy, who says ‘refreshify’ and thinks that Scotland bisects Cornwall and Manchester
The crime’s name? Gaslighting, defined as manipulating someone by psychological means into doubting their own sanity.
In other words, insinuating malicious, premeditated intent on the part of the man to undermine the mental health of the woman and put her in the wrong for four million viewers to see. Which apparently this whole series has been; a display of ingrained misogyny, if Glamour magazine is anything to go by.
Such gaslighting claims merely dilute the seriousness of such behaviours when they occur in the real world. At a time when men’s charities encourage gents to show their feelings and speak to one another, Love Island seems to demand you keep your doubts schtum or suffer the consequences. Curtis and Jordan tried to express themselves and were both tainted by such a disclosure.
And meanwhile, the most popular men were Ovie, Greg and Tommy. Why? Because they’re ‘gentlemen’, which seems, on Love Island, to entail being as compliant and inoffensive as possible. Curtis had this title until he finally went with what he felt regarding Amy; so, to an extent, did Jordan.
Ovie was incredibly relaxed, avoiding a contest over Anna, and reaped the rewards of such behaviour with a final spot. Anton similarly succeeded for so long because he was pied for most of the series, and so his ‘wandering eye’ was never an issue. And yet a flippant moment of banter with a shop assistant threatened to upturn everything.
Perhaps Love Island’s impossible demands can only be met by a contest like Tommy, who says ‘refreshify’ and thinks that Scotland bisects Cornwall and Manchester. Tommy’s enduring appeal for eight weeks was his simplicity in the villa.
Where others failed to curb urges and deviant thoughts, Tommy was led by straightforward principles that have kept him unbendingly true to Molly-Mae. And whilst it may be ‘refreshifying’ to see someone with a single motive at such a young age, it is far from normal. Winner Greg also had the fortune of a short stint in the villa so his morals were never once challenged. Had he stayed longer and Amber been her typically fiery self, how would he have fared?
A man’s moral for Love Island is to toe the line and avoid doing anything to challenge your lady’s supremacy. women control the villa and ultimately what the series has shown is that the majority of men under 30 are not ready for the kind of commitment the show demands.
Instead, they’re made out as deviant or hypocritical, as if they fail to reach expectations. In reality, Love Island is an environment which sets up the majority of men to fail.
So why would a man watch Love Island? For the low-brow, easy watching drama and the attractive people strutting around Majorca.
Just as there’s no more Christ at Christmas, there is no Love in Love Island, or any other deep, meaningful takeaways.
Don’t take it to heart; it is what it is.
Image by Nattu via Creative Commons