Season 8 of Love Island has been breaking lads left and right. Ever since Liam (remember him? Cheeky Welsh fellow who looked like the main character in an illustrated children’s book?) decided it wasn't for him and went home after like five days, there has been an unusually even gender split with regards to tears spilled. And, after a rocky few days experiencing emotions such as affection and vulnerability and having to deal with them on reality TV, Jacques decided to leave the villa and check himself into the head-loss clinic.
Now we’ve entered the final two weeks, and in many ways people have only just started to crack. These are volatile times, with movie night wreaking more havoc on people’s “connections” than the departure board at Gatwick. Amid these fissures, let’s take a moment to consider this week’s power players, our potential winners and why the fuck we have all spent yet another two months of our lives watching a load of 20-somethings arguing and working on their lats in the Spanish sun.
It’s been quite a dark week, energy-wise, so let’s start off on a wholesome note by appreciating Becky Hill for a) being really good at singing and b) giving the Islanders a genuine Propaganda-style night out that saw the girlies in bodycon dresses screaming “I WISH YOU WELL” into each other’s mouths while Josh did a backflip and Luca whipped out some actions-to-lyrics dance moves that haven’t been seen on broadcast television since the Fast Food Rockers took Eurovision.
DAVIDE AND EKIN-SU
It is clear to see that these are our winners, even if they do constantly bicker like a divorced couple who chose to remain friends but have a literally infinite supply of criticisms about domestic habits, parenting styles and how he left the room to get a Twix during the birth of their younger child still left to deploy. After weeks of will-they-won’t-they, Davide is still dropping bangers like "you are fake like the Louis Vuitton from China", while Ekin-Su still gets horned up anytime a new six foot plus man presents himself and she finds herself feeling “nervous” and “excited” for mysterious reasons.
On paper, Gemma and Luca may have taken the win this year, since they tick the boxes of a) loyalty, b) aspirational girlbossery and c) chastity, exchanging "I love yous" while a solemn piano cover of "Is This Love" by Bob Marley and The Wailers plays in the background before ever even doing bits. Luca’s fucked that up now, but even so, the people want a character they can root for – and this year Davide and Ekin-Su have brought that in spades individually, let alone together. If they can stay in a couple until the end, it will be their coronation. And, given the sliver of hate they are fostering for each other, this is also the closest we have gotten to someone stealing the money at the end.
The pack behaviour and deep-seated hatred of women that emerges after movie night is so predictable at this point it’s not even worth talking about, but the fact that Deji sat through it all with an immense suit, absolutely no skin in the game and a variety of reactions so powerful that ‘Deji face’ is now trending on Twitter, definitely is.
Adam Collard, a man people seem compelled to refer to by his full name like he’s a Member of Parliament or Harry Potter, was sent into the villa as a rogue attempt to stir the pot late in the season. That’s sort of happened, since his mere presence was at least 40 percent responsible for Jacques leaving, but mostly he’s just made a b-line for Paige, wooed her by saying things like “I book holidays last minute” and otherwise kept himself to himself. It’s a dark day for men, as a concept, when the most respectable guy on Love Island is someone who once behaved so troublingly that Women’s Aid had to issue a PSA.
CHALLENGES, THE TAKESHI'S CASTLE ERA
Since we’ve now decided it’s not alright, probably, to trawl Twitter for the most insidious things that @m1nty1998 has to say about complete strangers on the television in an effort to get inside the Islanders’ heads and shatter their confidence for entertainment, the challenges of yore have been replaced by physical comedy.
Does it mean there’s less salacious drama that provides the forbidden dopamine we all crave when engaging with this mostly evil programme, like a cancellation writ-large? Yes. But when all’s said and done, I would much rather watch women with immaculate blow-dries launch themselves down a slip and slide while trying to swipe a load of pints into a hole, or Davide shoving a hose between his legs to chants of "Yes!! Piss for us!"
JACQUES AND LUCA, THE UNLIKELY ALLYSHIP OF
"If Gemma hadn't been in here I'd have walked out that door with him,” said Luca, in tears, as his current love interest’s ex-boyfriend wheeled his suitcase into the night. There is something untoward about this pair and their bond that is built upon the confusing foundations of “coveting what the other has already experienced”, “keeping your enemies closer” and “essentially being the same sort of man only one is much more obvious about it”.
Now that Jacques, Luca’s greatest “threat / friend”, is gone, it’s unsurprising to see Luca's net of perceived adversaries widen to include the entire villa (and, soon, the world). To be honest Luca should have followed Jacques out the door, because judging by the way he’s reacted to Gemma being civil to Billy while he attempted to flirt with her – instead of telling him to “fuck off and die”, I guess? I genuinely have no idea what anyone could be expected to do in that situation?? – it seems we have another patient prepped for the head-loss clinic.
THE FALLEN ONES: JAY, CHYNA, JACQUES, JOSH AND COCO
As is always the case when creeping towards the end of a season, the overlords of reality TV have begun swinging their axe with the voracity of a feral cat colony around a grill house. The pack thinned by five this week, as a public vote led to Jay, Chyna, Josh and Coco being voted out, and of course Jacques picking up his y-fronts and leaving of his own accord.
What this also means is that we’ve seen a lot of those talking heads that happen while the Islander chucks a load of in a suitcase and people talk about how funny they were, how much they are loved and how they “can’t fault them at all” – always in the past tense, as if they’re dead and definitely won’t be reunited at Sheesh Chigwell in three weeks. The greatest eulogy of the show came courtesy of Dami, about Jay; "He was true to himself throughout this whole experience, and his abs were always rock solid."
TRUE FEAR OF THE ‘I'VE GOT A TEXT’ TEXT
At least once an episode now someone will spring up from a bean bag screaming “I’VE GOT A TEXT” with the same wide-eyed terror typically reserved for watching Hereditary, prompting Indiyah to fling her snacks into the air while small groups of boys start embracing each other like they're being sent to Normandy. Makes you consider the long-term effects of the show, really. It must breed a particular kind of nervous system when some of the most intense anxiety of your life is twinned with a concrete fire pit and some sterile furniture, while the fear of God shoots through your veins every time someone sends you a meme on WhatsApp.
Usually when people get sent on their little dates – at least the proper couples, like Luca and Gemma – they get plonked in a novelty location like a yacht or on top of a horse or something. But this year, almost every single event has involved one of those folding tables your nan always brings out whenever there’s a war anniversary, two plastic flutes and a conversation regarding “differences”. The cost of living crisis truly has hit us all.
WEIRD AMERICAN ACCENTS
I don’t know at what point saying things like “scootch yo little ass closer to me” in a stock American accent became known as “flirting”, but it appears to be a sickness that’s rapidly infecting the villa. Summer was the first to fall, announcing “Alrighty, I’ma go with it!” on her date with Adam. Josh then caught it off Summer, as they sat on the beanbags trading directionless one-liners like Offset and Quavo doing a bit about Year 7 flirting. Since then, Billy has been taken ill, while Tasha came out with it while making some announcement about “my maaaan”.
Since half of the adverts are for The O.C. and The Sex Lives of College GIrls, the conspiracy theorist in me thinks it’s a ploy to get us to watch ITV’s new bump of American programming. But probably it’s because everyone is in their early-20s and has spent the last few years in forced isolation, hooked by the veins to Benito Skinner’s TikTok page.