Historically, the first week of Love Island is drier than a cat’s tongue. This year has been no different, to be honest, although a few notable milestones were hit. The first recoupling happened, an original Islander left voluntarily, Luca went behind Davide's back and stuck it on Gemma and Davide was fuming about the disrespect of not being consulted beforehand because he was – and I quote – “born ages before him”. Plus, the villa gained another man with hair like a Shepherd's Pie who also happens to be Gemma’s ex....
Alright, so maybe quite a lot of vaguely interesting stuff happened. Let's get into it.
AMBER AND DAMI
The summer gods prescribed Amber lots of little kisses on the forehead, and Dami has delivered. Amid the carnival of deception that is the rest of the villa, these two have become a heartwarming constant, providing a reliable amount of PDA and adorable sentences such as “Do you have any nice jumpers for me?” Right now their dynamic is giving teen sitcom power couple: Amber the gorgeous, girlie-supporting queen, Dami the dry-humoured, homie-kissing king. On that note…
Too many of Dami’s best moments have been relegated to Unseen Bits (see: him winding up the girls by pretending not to know what a blow job is), which I will be quoting at length within my complaints to Ofcom. In the meantime, Sunday night’s one-liner of “Make-up swap – congratulations” after he bumped into Davide and Ekin-Su post-snog will surely be filed next to “chaldish” and “what’s Brexit?” in Love Island history.
Some people simply aren't cut out for the Machiavellian war room that is Love Island. Our softly spoken Welsh lad chose to leave the villa this week after struggling to find his feet with the girls and also the concept of the show in general.
On the one hand it's a shame, since he's a world class flirt – as we saw when he charmed and vocal fried his way through two dates with Ekin-Su and Afia. Also, he’d clearly found a place in the hearts of his fellow contestants. When he wheeled his suitcase out of the villa shouting “Love Island Baybeee!”, it had both Amber and Luca blubbering like it was a screening of Inside Out.
On the other hand, Liam saw the castrated ghosts of Dr. Alex and Hugo in his future, and said: nah, you're alright. And good on him. When you’re challenged to kiss every Islander you find attractive and you respond by kissing every single one of the girls because you think they’re all lovely, it’s probably a sign that you’re too pure for this hellscape. No doubt the ladies of Newport will be quaking in The John Wallace Linton when he returns.
INDIYAH: A MOMENT OF APPRECIATION
Listen, this woman is so fine she should be removed from this cursed villa and immediately flown to Hollywood to become whatever sexy Marvel lady hasn’t been done yet. She should be drowning in attention, fed grapes and experiencing Vitamin C headaches from the number of orange juices being delivered to her in the morning by desperate men. It is a disgrace that someone this sweet and gorgeous is on TV every night of the week putting on her own shoes.
THE WAR OF “EFFORT”
Davide The Italian Snack™️ is bringing a fun new element to the villa this year in that he has very strong principles about what two individuals should bring to a potential relationship. In his eyes, this mostly seems to amount to: women working very hard – but not too hard! – to retain his attention, and in return he will say maybe five words about what he thinks they think of him while frowning into the distance with Rylan eyebrows. This attitude has proved contagious within the villa, I fear. Indiyah, Ekin-Su and Paige are beginning to suffer from male resistance to grafting, with each of them sensing they’re putting in more than they’re getting back.
Potentially this is down to the viewers throwing couples together initially, establishing a dynamic where “trying” – the great heterosexual male phobia – becomes intrinsic to the game. Potentially the men in question don’t fancy anyone enough to bother (to which I say: lmfao). More likely, though, what we’re seeing is the tragedy of modern dating writ large. With so much at stake emotionally, everyone wants to be chased. Unfortunately this leads to a stalemate. Either both parties move on, or there is an explosive airing of grievances that encompasses everything from how you’re always the one to initiate conversation, to leftover frustrations about how your last partner never did the washing up. We live in romantically impoverished times.
One week, three couples and a rugby playing ex-boyfriend called Jacques later, and somehow the gravitational centre of our beloved sex programme is a young woman who spent the previous season of Love Island awaiting her A-Level results. The amount of screen time she’s getting has led some viewers to suspect foul play courtesy of Michael Owen’s bank account, with “Gemma Island” trending all Sunday evening. Though I will say that she had quite a relatable moment when she realised who the newcomer was and responded by running away gagging, before covertly topping up her make-up.
THE VILLAIN EDIT
Ekin-Su – aka “Ekin-fuckin-Su” or “Ekin-bloody-Su”, as she was referred to upon arrival – is this year’s ‘woman with a balayage sent in to titilate and stir shit up like a walking episode of Hollyoaks After Dark’. In classic form she arrived, announced that she wasn’t here to “make seasonal girlfriends” and made a b-line for as many lads as possible. In many ways it’s a part she was born to play, since she was airlifted in from Turkish TV where she spends her days as a serial killer, but the role of the villain doesn’t quite fit her in real life. She soon walked back her comments about friendship and has since been embraced by the girls as an example of how to handle this particular group of men who think ‘grafting’ is a town in Sussex.
I may eat my words since her head has potentially swivelled like a mad owl towards Jacques eight hours after coupling up with Davide, but I have a feeling the female villain edit won’t stick this year. We’ve seen it play out too many times and they always emerge as fan favourites once the cold exterior dissolves to reveal an endearing mix of insecure and headstrong. The era of the villain is dead, the year of the wing-woman has begun.
This man is having a nightmare, fair play. One minute he’s crawling up the walls over Ekin-Su, laying it on Gemma so thick that he vowed never to yawn again because it gives her the ick and eating hummus directly out of the pot with his finger. The next he’s beefing one of many lads sent in to rattle him, personally (or so I’m sure he believes).
Luca has been on the island for seven days and already had it out with two boys (Andrew and Davide), with a third barney waiting in the wings (Jaques), which doesn’t seem normal but makes for amazing TV. As he’s said himself, inside him are two wolves: the "Italian bro" and the "half English". While Davide has Italy on lock, weight-lifting women and revealing that he was once enlisted to cuck his best friend, Luca can’t help but rep England. By which I mean: he’s doomed to be terminally, off-puttingly, “fed up, mate”.
The last thing I want when I’m dipping potato smileys into Veganaise and missing my mouth while my laptop balances disgracefully on my belly is to have an “active lifestyle” rubbed in my face. Between the protein pancakes, the gym being used as a flirtation site and Davide grunting with Ekin-Su on his shoulders, this year has leaned into showing how and why the cast members all have eight packs and one percent body fat. Sadly, no one cares. This is Love Island, we’re here to see women filing their nails during an argument, not facts about how people’s testosterone levels go up on leg day.
In the formative years of Love Island, lingo like “muggy” and “type on paper” was imported naturally via the Essex hivemind. Since then, there have been multiple attempts to force through catchphrases. Sometimes they stick, sometimes not. This year’s “top three” – a concept somewhere between the savage friendship ranking of a MySpace profile and the mundanity of selecting your GCSE options – was so flimsy it disappeared faster than an Instagram story. Better luck next week.