In an ideal world, which we are categorically not living in, Love Island would have aired this summer. It’s usually with some reluctance that we sacrifice up to six nights a week during the one time of year it’s actually nice outside to watch hot people get sunburned and argue on TV, but this summer it would have been a piece of piss. Six nights, you say? Let it run 24 hours a day – fuck it, we have quite literally nothing else to do. Entire weeks are passing by with alarming speed and lack of distinction. We’re all on “Villa Time” now, baby!
One bone that has been thrown our way, however, is Love Island: What Happened Next – a three-episode recap of all six seasons that aired this week. It’s not that exciting, to be honest: various contestants from each season reunited to reflect on their experiences on the show, clink glasses of Prosecco from a social distance and unblock each other on Instagram. But we’ll take it! And we’ll over-analyse it! In a one-off special of our “Love Island Power Ranking” column covering 2015 to now!
AMBER ROSE GILL
Of course, the real Ultimate Love Island Champion is Miss Amber Rose Gill, otherwise known as Love Island’s Only Solo Winner™, who won what was arguably the show’s most successful season last year (the less said about The Passage of Time the better.) You have to admire her trajectory: coupling up with a hot Irishman at the last minute, emerging victorious through sheer force of popularity, securing a million pound clothing deal weeks after getting out of the villa, and then telling everyone to vote Labour last December. The people’s winner.
They say that life imitates art, so it makes sense that as on series 5, second to Amber would come Molly-Mae, social media maven and owner of the world’s most meticulously tied hair bun. Misguided comments about the cuisine of Italy aside, there isn’t another islander who still trends on Twitter weekly, or who has played her fame quite in the same way as Ms Mae.
Molly-Mae’s upper hand probably came from the fact that she had the influencer aesthetic down from the moment she stepped into the villa – whereas for lots of other contestants, that only became their career after they left the show. With almost five million on Instagram, she’s the most followed Islander ever, and in fairness to her, her YouTube does genuinely bang: the video where she gets a walk-in wardrobe installed without the knowledge of her landlord is my Best Picture winner.
PEOPLE WHO WENT BACK TO THEIR DAY JOBS AFTERWARDS
Arguably one of the most powerful and well-adjusted things to do after being on the telly is chalk it up to life experience and return to your job saving lives or teaching kids who just could not care less – “You were on what? Sex Island? Sounds shit, miss.” This seems to have been a more popular course of action for contestants in seasons one and two, before some degree of fame was a prerequisite for getting cast in the first place, but an honourable high ranking goes to all our Islanders who dropped out of British celebrity with intent. I personally look forward to being operated on by someone I have seen assemble a Shack Stack with their mouth.
Vindicated reality TV hero, much needed poster girl for sexual health awareness in the UK, living proof that Love Island as a format would be vastly improved if they only cast bisexuals.
Chris Hughes staring into the void on the night vision camera after telling an already sat Olivia Atwood to “sit down” in the middle of an argument; Tommy Fury beefing shapes and inventing the word “refreshify”; Callum Jones asking twins Jess and Eve if they were “both 20”– Love Island has been generous in its deliverance of himbos, aka male bimbos, aka big beefy men who navigate relationships like a dog that doesn’t know its own size.
After Series 1 star Hannah Elizabeth’s admission that she had her baby Reg during a planned Caesarean – with a blow dry booked in beforehand – which was over in seven minutes, I finally understand what people mean by “the beauty of childbirth”.
OVIE, THE ONLY SOUND MAN IN THE HISTORY OF LOVE ISLAND
Ovie Soko entered The Villa in 2019 with nothing but positive vibes and a vast selection of hats. Where there was inane gossip, he put his feet up and ate a Tip Top. When he inexplicably became involved in a love triangle, he calmly said “bless” and walked off. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a well-adjusted man in real life, let alone on reality TV. These days he addresses his two million Instagram following with the detached air of self-confidence most people reserve for their Close Friends list when they’re high, and posts unflattering videos of himself necking crisp dust to the grid. The man has just released an inspirational book called You Are Dope, for fuck’s sake. We don’t deserve to even know who he is.
OTHER REALITY TV SHOWS
If nothing else, Love Island has incubated cast members for literally every other big reality show in the UK: TOWIE, Geordie Shore, Made in Chelsea and Dancing on Ice have all hosted previous Love Island contestants, securing its status as the place to go if you want an EasiLocks ambassadorship and an offer from Celebs Go Dating.
THE CONCEPT OF MARRIAGE
It follows that a show whose climax is forcing people who’ve only worn swimwear and bodycon for eight weeks into formal attire and making them read what basically resemble wedding vows to each other – a veritable festival of heteronormativity, in other words – would lead to at least a few marriages.
The Love Island reunion shows remind us that there are two married Love Island couples (Alex Bowen and Olivia Buckland; Jess Shears and Dom Lever), and two others with children or children on the way (Jamie Jewitt and Camilla Thurlow; Nathan Massey and Cara De La Hoyde.) Statistically. that’s actually quite bad considering how many couples the show has produced in its time. But it’s nice to pretend that the show is good for something other than just widening the net of people who might show up on your Instagram explore page, isn’t it?
REHEARSED SPEECHES ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS THAT DIDN’T WORK OUT BUT THEY’RE A ‘LOVELY BOY/GIRL AND I WISH THEM WELL’
Usually code for “had not properly considered the Newcastle to Essex commute to be honest”, “it’s been two years why are people still asking me about this” or “I’m scared of her dad”.
WOMEN WHO HAVE STARTED BUSINESSES TO DO WITH THE GYM
A very common post-Love Island career path, which has been followed by Gabby Allen, Kady McDermott, and Georgia Harrison to name a few. Quite boring in my opinion, but I’m sure that as they wallpaper their homes in £50 notes they’re not particularly interested in what I have to say.
Any man who has dared to upset Charlotte Crosby – the centre point around which all that is good and pure in the world revolves – does not deserve the good name of Islander.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO MUSIC
There’s something about the Love Island music that gets me going like nobody’s business. The opening credits alone cause me to grit my teeth, thrust my head forward and gasp for a VK like I’m coming up in Tiger Tiger.
The same can’t be said for the musical output of some of the contestants, which is, if nothing else, varied: major label deals, talent show supergroups, one-off collaborations with The House & Garage Orchestra, genuinely impressive West End success including a future role in Bring It On: The Musical. There’s also Chris and Kem’s fun but blindingly white grime single “Little Bit Leave It”, which, as much as I love Chris and Kem as TV personalities, sounds like Lethal Bizzle’s “POW” re-written by members of the Cambridge Union.
Curtis’ LONDON PARIS NEW YORK CHESHIRE cushion has unfortunately put paid to the entire industry.