Can you believe it's only been a week? Doesn't it feel like we’ve known these people – watched their oil-slick bodies heaving in and out of novelty costumes, rolled our eyes at their deranged proclamations of love, called them only by their first names to our friends – forever?
As it does every year, Love Island’s relentless pace means that we already have a better idea of what most of its participants are up to than we do of the movements of our first cousins. It can be overwhelming, it can be confusing, but we’re here for you. Just like last year, the social analysts at VICE will be publishing The Love Island Power Ranking – a serious and rigorous anthropological study of the villa and its hierarchies – every week.
I mean, if nothing else we’re just handing you ready-made opinions on the show to feed to colleagues and Tinder matches, so you don’t have to watch six hours of TV every week. Don’t thank us, I believe it’s called public service journalism. We go again:
Same as in the Bible or Lord of the Rings, every year on Love Island there must always be a chosen one, and this year it is Lucie. Lucie is fascinating because she is a walking, talking projection of Western beauty standards (blonde hair, blue eyes, size 6, frankly cracking boobs, fair play) who also exudes an "I'm not like other girls!!!!!!" energy (surfing, loves the gym, no make-up, manages to speak to Tommy about boxing for longer than one minute).
Lucie, therefore – through no fault of her own, I might add – appears to the men of the villa as a Cool Girl, and as such is the most powerful person in the villa right now. Cool Girl-ness is dynamite to many young men, and while Lucie is much more than this set of traits, it is these traits which have quite clearly knocked the heads off multiple dudes (Anton, Tommy, Joe) in a single week, to varying comic effect (my personal highlight was Tommy Fury telling her that he would "crawl to the moon" for her after knowing her for mere days).
I personally don't have any real feelings about Lucie’s standing in the villa other than that it’s in part a result of fucked up social ideals about women, but she herself seems cool, and also seems to have stopped trying to make "bevy" happen, so I don’t really have any further reservations. Hope she ditches Joe, and wish her every success with her future Fat Face endorsement deal.
Curtis is unlike any contestant Love Island has ever seen before. Historically speaking, islanders tend to fall into one or two of the following categories: entertaining, nice, strong game – but not all three. Never all three. Somehow, though, this swole character from The History Boys has every box ticked and submitted.
He’s in the only solid couple so far, he is the official confidante and counsel-giver to literally every other contestant – men and women alike – as well as providing the most reliable running commentary for the public because he has no ulterior motives beyond everyone "doing what’s best for them". Being beckoned on a date by newcomer Molly-Mae, politely asserting his allegiance to his current partner Amy within the first ten seconds and then escorting Molly-Mae into the villa to meet everyone so she doesn’t feel awkward, before immediately reassuring Amy that it’s chill, and encouraging good relations between them? I know the bar is low for a show as debased as this, but even so: WE HAVE TO STAN.
Curtis is above the un-evolved social framework that most islanders operate within, where men and women behave and react according to traditional expressions of gender, and I look forward enormously to watching him sail over the mess for the next seven weeks, referring to people as “young lady” and making Carry On jokes about Tommy’s balls.
The most interesting thing about high street fashion for straight men in 2019 is how much it resembles indie fashion in 2005 that was widely derided at the time for being "gay". Obviously this is no surprise: fashion, like everything else, works its way from the underground up – but it doesn’t make it any less funny to see the men of Love Island parading around with their knees bursting out of their super spray-on skinnies like hulked-out members of The Automatic.
Every summer I forget that White Jeans On Lads is a thing, and every summer Love Island rolls around to remind me that, in a world where #sponcon reigns supreme, the ultimate signifier of clout and masculinity is how long you can spend with your legs vacuum-packed in pristine white denim without acquiring a stain or passing out.
Amber has the biggest "don’t cross me" energy since Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, and for that we must respect her. So far she’s been like a walking book of self-help catchphrases for women – "I’m no one’s second best," etc – and has displayed the kind of self-assurance and assertiveness that would see her win The Apprentice.
That said, Amber is also responsible for booting Callum – a brilliant legend who responded to her critique of his sunglasses by wearing them every second of every day – out of the villa in favour of Anton, a beg who seems consistently unable to get through a conversation without making it about how he’s single.
You can tell everything about a person by the company they choose to keep, and unfortunately I feel this move has revealed Amber to be the kind of powerhouse who is only "sound" until you wander over her impractically low tolerance threshold. Based on Amber’s reaction to Anton using her razor*, I would put money on her having once ended a friendship with someone for buying a top she already owned.
*Important note: to shave his face, not arse.
Would be much lower due to being the first person eliminated (can you imagine what it would be like getting your phone back after that, the absolute ripping you’d be taking in your several group chats? Or, even more chillingly, what your first time in the pub would be like, people from school openly laughing at you, friends of friends calling you Callum One Week, which is what you’ll now be known as locally for the rest of your life? Doesn’t bear thinking about), if it weren’t for the fact that he launched not only the single greatest catchphrase Love Island has ever produced, but also the catchphrase I will be saying so many times per day for the foreseeable future that one of my friends will inevitably try to smother me.
Tommy Fury made Molly-Mae the worst omelette since Jeremy Corbyn posted that abomination on his Twitter last August. Omelettes, sweetie, I’m so sorry.
THE FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPT OF NORMALITY
Being on reality TV is an unimaginably jarring experience. Life as you know it changes, and you’re put into a situation which is ostensibly real – there are things like gravity, other humans, snacks – while also sharing basically none of the characteristics of actual reality, unless your reality is wearing a swimming costume 16 hours a day (somehow without getting thrush????) and sharing a bedroom with more than ten other people.
As such, you’d expect that in a reality TV situation people’s behaviour becomes a bit more extreme. But like. There is extreme and then there is Week One of Love Island 2019, the likes of which I have never seen.
With a show as big as Love Island, it’s inevitable that the contestants selected to be on it would play up to the stereotypes that have made it so successful, resulting in people having "chats" about whether they fancy each other four times a day, and trying to coin terrible catchphrases (I can already sense my own Pavlovian conditioning to the phrase "laying it on Factor 50", which makes me involuntarily say "fuck off" to nobody whenever I hear it).
It’s also inevitable that with no distractions – no phone, few private areas for furtive wanks – you’d get inflated ideas of your own feelings for someone you met two days ago, because it’s all you’ve had to think about. As such, we end up with behaviour like Joe telling Lucie – who, I should stress, he has known for one week – that he doesn’t “trust” her because another person chose to go on a "date" in the villa car park with her. We end up with Anton attempting to chat up not one but four women in the space of a seven-day period, trying to convince each of them that he really believes they have "good chat" and that she is the one. We end up with Amy and Curtis acting like a couple celebrating their golden wedding anniversary and sagely dispensing advice to the other islanders purely because they were fortunate enough to actually fancy someone they ended up chucked in with.
Normality always becomes a bit skewed in the villa, but between desperately trying to shape everything they say into something that would look good printed on a mass-produced T-shirt, and trying to force feelings that wouldn’t be there in the real world, it seems that it’s happened very early on for 2019’s game.
In a single week, Joe has gone from "the cute, harmless one who looks a bit like Harry Styles if you really, really squint" to the kind of person who might feasibly chop all your clothes into little bits and sew them back together into a giant broken heart after your three-week fling comes to an end. Did you see how stressed he was about Lucie after two days? Do you know how many people I’ve known for two days? I've had rashes that last longer than that.
Anyway, Lucie picked Joe over Tommy in the recoupling, and now they’re going to stay together until the final, where they will both come third. But not before they have three to four major arguments, one of which results in Joe ripping his microphone from his Hawaiian shirt and attempting to storm out the villa because Lucie made Tommy (who she secretly fancies more) a cup of peppermint tea.
If you're desperate for more Love Island content from VICE, be sure to give our podcast VICE Does 'Love Island' – dropping every Tuesday and Friday all season – a listen.