As things begin, so must they end. Love Island 2021 is over – and I know it doesn’t work like this, but in my mind I imagine the contestants packing their bags like they’re trying to beat an Air B&B check out time, as production assistants mill around them wiping surfaces so they don’t get charged for leaving a mess – which means that a new batch of social media celebrities are about to be unleashed onto Instagram, to take fast fashion and whoever makes those two pieces for men with the zip-up polo shirts by the throat.
While we do not know what paths they may take post-show (though I hope Liam becomes the first male former Islander to do a deal with Lovehoney or similar), we can reflect on their time in the villa, and on what has been a difficult but certainly more interesting final week than usual. So for the last time this year (unless they announce a cursed surprise winter season, which: no), here’s the Love Island Power Ranking. Thank you for coming on this wild ride called “compulsively watching people in a Spanish villa and then talking about them like they are your friends or cousins or something” with us.
Liberty / Image: ITV
I’m unsure that there has ever been a Love Island contestant to have given as beautiful an account of herself on the show as Miss Liberty Amor Poole, who should be presented with a key to the city of Birmingham, a star on the Broad Street Walk of Fame alongside Ozzy Osbourne and Jasper Carrott, and Jack Grealish’s hand in marriage post haste, so proudly and nobly has she represented her homestead.
The girl’s girl of all girl’s girls, the patron saint of women who tell you that you look “amazing” in club bathrooms (and the thought of bumping into Liberty in Snobs as you struggle to do up the poppers on your bodysuit… rapturous), Liberty supported her friends even when it was difficult for her. The scenes of her laughing and smiling after hearing about everyone else’s final dates, despite her own crumbing relationship, were genuinely some of the most quietly heartbreaking the show has ever aired, but she left the villa with the type of grace I couldn’t muster now, let alone at the age of 21.
On Love Island “staying true to myself” is often a coded phrase which is actually deployed to mean “snogging whoever I want in Casa Amor,” but Liberty showed that it’s entirely possible to follow your gut, leave the villa early and still come out on top (she was the first Islander to hit one million Instagram followers, closely followed by Millie.) All that is left to say is that if it were possible to vote for Liberty and Kaz to win the show, they’d have left everyone in their wake, and as such I am going to have to demand a long-running series about their new lives together, where it’s just them taking photos of each other and talking about how important it is to love yourself, while wearing those netted trousers which make your bum look amazing.
Liam / Photo: ITV
Doing Tom Jones karaoke – badly; expressing himself like a fridge magnet (“I love seeing you smile, I could listen to you laugh all day”) but with the intensity of William Blake painting his dreams; saying “how’s your mother” while pushing a pram like someone catching up with a neighbour in the Co-Op; having a dad who is constantly on the verge of tears over how proud he is; shouting out The Aberglais on national television; the way he smashed that pint while doing the quiz on film night.
Thanks to Liam, Valleys representation has finally been given its dues on Love Island and, in many ways, this is the real win of the series. Boys from South Wales have had a rough ride on the show in the past because they’re cornier than a Drake mixtape when it comes to talking about their feelings and can’t be arsed with drama. Being understated can often come off as boring, especially when surrounded by people from Romford screaming, and to be fair some of the previous Welsh contestants have been, shall we say, ‘off-piste’ (Dr Alex???).
But this is the first year we were treated to a proper Merthyr shagger who is passionate about romcoms, pronounces “sexy” properly (i.e. with three syllables; “seck-see-uh”) and seems like he knows how to tend to an allotment – and now look. The charm, quite simply, reigns supreme. The villa is often considered to be Essex’s world and everyone else is just living in it, but culturally speaking the Valleys are basically the Essex of Wales, which makes Liam and Millie a powerful hybrid. I can’t wait for them to cut the ribbon for whatever outlet next arrives to Cyfarthfa Retail Park.
Kaz / Image: ITV
A moment, too, for Kaz, who may have come fourth last night, but is first place in our hearts. A master communicator (when she calmly said “Don’t get disrespectful with me” to New Aaron it was one of my highlights of the series), and an icon of the simple-but-effective eyeshadow game, Kaz showcased herself so well in the villa that she could probably just as easily walk into a career as a high ranking speech writer as she could modelling and influencing us all to buy bikinis that will never, ever look as good as us as they do on her.
Tyler's legend dad / Screenshot: ITV Hub
The way Tyler’s dad bowled into the kitchen saying “HELLO PEEPS” blew every single bombshell entrance out of the water, let’s be honest. Add that to Liam’s dad in box-fresh white trainers telling everyone in the villa how stunning they are, and I think it’s time for ITV to consider launching ‘Dad Island’ – a spin-off series featuring an all star cast of dads abroad for a hot summer of wearing big shirts, arguing over how best to grill meat, and reminding the younger generations what it takes to properly work a room.
Chloby / Photo: ITV
I wish these two Tangfastics who have decided to go out with each other nothing but happiness, and so I do feel sad in some ways that we were robbed of a Chloby win. This is mostly because you just know that upon hearing their names, Toby would have picked Chloe up and ran around as she screamed NÖ WHEY, and in that moment they would have resembled a human version of those inflatables with the arms that you see outside carpet shops. And that is what I am looking for in television.
Chloe's mum and sister / Photo: ITV
If you had to guess whose mum would walk in and shout “Darling, you have been iconic!” across the Villa it would always have been Chloe of “You are the table” fame. She is the kind of mum who would have refused to buy you Glen’s and insisted you have a couple of bottles of Pinot with her for pre-drinks as she talks to you about the boy you want to shag. I can see Chloe and her mum having some sort of spin off show on BBC Three.
ALL THE ONES WHO SHOULD HAVE STAYED
Shannon / Photo: ITV
Despite falling from grace this year, Love Island 2021 was full of contestants with potential. Some took their time to get going, others were lost to circumstance, and I still have absolutely no clue why Shannon was made to leave after 24 hours but that was the entertainment equivalent to daylight robbery. So at the end of another stressful summer, let us take this opportunity to shout out those we wanted to see more of: Shannon, Sam, Aaron and, of course, Lucinda, whose “REEEEALLYYYYY” will live rent free in our heads forever.
THE LOVE ISLAND COMEDOWN
Not only am I losing the rush of deciding to go to the Big Sainsbury’s at 8:30PM and trying to get home in time for 9PM, but how will I cope not seeing former Love Island star, Jack Fowler, in a tiny pilot’s costume in the many, many ad break slots?
SPLIT OR STEAL
Millie 'deciding' whether to split or steal the money / Screenshot: ITV Hub
If this show is to continue as it must for the rest of our earthly lives, I am on my knees begging for the split or steal format in the final to be removed. Nobody is going to steal the money, so it’s not a source of tension, just a weird roadblock. Just give the winners what they actually want: £25,000 each and to be sent on their way to their hotel room so they can go and have sex not under a duvet.