Look, I get it. There was a time you were dedicated, a real stan’s stan. You live-tweeted the episodic drama, fired off masterful quips in your Love Island-dedicated group chats when tits were licked. You even thought about buying the iconique bottle so you could pull your manager “for a chat” to ask about a raise as a joke. You had Casa Amor in your calendar, didn’t you, you beautiful mess. You were ITV’s backbone: an unashamed Love Island addict, blithely ditching plans for regularly scheduled glossy butts and bods.
But after a lacklustre winter season that lacked the deranged theatre you’ve grown to love, this season’s meme-worthy intros came around again and you just couldn’t. You saw the all-too-familiar conveyor belt of casual sexism, pumped-up lips, and cocksure beefcakes dogged in their mission to “steal your girl” and you… well, you just couldn’t. “I swear it just finished!” you text your bestie. “I don’t think I can do it. It’s too much.”
And you know what, fair enough. But, and I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, you have well and truly missed out. Because this season has been more Shakespearean and Kafkaesque than ever before. We’ve seen Hall of Fame contestants, unprecedented producer-engineered drama, and quite frankly shocking star appearances. But hun, this is Love Island: We’re in this together, so let me catch you up on all satisfyingly juicy tea and get you ready for the imminent finale.
Arise, Sir Mitchel Taylor
Mitch scares me. His actions, his words, his motives: It’s stuff you do in a post-drug binge fever dream, only the Sheffield-based gas engineer chooses to do it, over and over again, in the cold and sober light of day.
Throwing marriage out there on the same day of meeting newcomers, repeatedly suggesting he is “an upgrade” to visibly uninterested girls, saving girls from being dumped in the name of “friendship”, laying awake upright with his eyes wide open as the villa rests, eternally fighting (and losing) a pathological urge to salute – the man tempts chaos with all the delicacy of a ketted-out raver, repeatedly leaving the villa nonplussed. “He’s a brazy yute,” Tyrique says to his boys as they once again convene to try to rationalise his actions. Or, as his betrayed and beaten pal Zach shouts at him: He’s a “snake boy”.
Mitch, don’t listen to them: You are unadulterated entertainment.
We all know that toxic masculinity has been the downfall of the series. Ofcom complaints about arriving in their thousands mere seconds after the credits roll up is the Love Island way. So while not particularly “healthy”, it’s been exhilarating to see a role reversal this season.
Catherine, by all accounts a surprisingly sweet estate agent leading into casa, ditched Scott at the mere sight of Elom’s rippling pectorals – and then gave him grief about it upon her return, forever proving her profession is reserved solely for snakes. Ella, who repeatedly lambasted Tyrique for simply looking at other girls, returned from Casa with an old Glaswegian flame. During Movie Night, all the girls encouraged the collective bullying of semi-pro goalkeeper Scott.
We have admittedly seen some of the classic toxic behaviour from Pretty Boy Ty – shoutout for Ty’s eyes while we’re here, have to be some of my favourite eyes ever – as the Lewes FC footballer goaded his boys into lipsing every possible girl during Casa Amor. But let’s face it: the girls have taken the cake for Top Meanies this season. It’s a bad thing to celebrate, but we’d be lying if we didn’t say it wasn’t thrilling to watch.
Move aside Jax Jones and Becky Hill, this year’s special guest was motherfucking Ne-Yo. Yep, Ne-Yo, as in actual “So Sick of Love Songs” Neyo. And the hero actually performed his hit songs without a clear desire to push his clearly poorly performing new material to a giddy and starstruck villa. But the best thing? He ended his set by sneaking the girls off to Casa Amor in black cab, or as Zach put it: “Ne-Yo stole our girls, bro!”
Speaking of Casa, You Could Literally See It From the Villa
Brava, producers. Brava. The boys crestfallen, alone and horny, staring at Casa Amor off in the distance as the girls joyfully wooed their new men – this was pure cinema. To be perfectly honest, it’s probably the best shot to emerge from the show.
Our Girl Whit
Whitney is us. Her thinking, her chat: It’s as the London local and self-proclaimed baddie sees all, an omniscient goddess with unprecedented emotional intelligence, talking down other islanders from the edge of cabin fever-induced insanity on the regular. She also is just pure fucking craic: from cackling for the entirety of Movie Night as if she’s watching it at home to saying “you’re a bad bitch that was doing the WAP” while consoling a weeping Molly.
She is undoubtedly an all-time contestant. It’s plain injustice she only made her way to the island in Love Island’s twilight years. Her catchphrase (“it’s giving”) should be printed on T-shirts, mugs, phone cases and multi-year ITV deals. Give her everything she wants.
The Return of Molly the Cringe & Other Firsts
Fair play to the production team: They’ve put in some tweaks to maximise the drama, like banning the least compatible couples from recoupling to keep the show moving apace, brutally dumping the quite frankly boring Catherine via text while she made toast in the kitchen, breaking up rickety morning debriefs, getting real bombshells that actually shitstir, and letting all the girls watch from the terrace as their coupled-up men went on a date with bombshells. Despite the neverending glut of “Love Island Is So Over” thinkpieces, the show has felt fresher than ever.