Last night, Love Island closed its inaugural – and, let's face it, hopefully last – winter season, with Paige Turley and Finley Tapp crowned the winners of the six-week South African run. The finale was understandably bittersweet, as it featured new host Laura Whitmore introducing an onscreen tribute to her friend and the show's former presenter Caroline Flack, who died on the 15th of February.
Though Whitmore confirmed last night that the show will return for its regular summer season in Majorca, Love Island’s future still feels unsteady – its bubbly, neon glow dulled by all the tragedy associated with it – and it's likely that three seasons in the space of 18 months will see the show lose viewers who were already beginning to find the format repetitive, even before it was marred by this loss.
As it stands, the reality is that decisions in TV are led by profit, and with all of the brand sponsorship it offers the show is too much of a money spinner for ITV to consider cancelling it right now, despite calls for it to end. At the very least, however, let's hope producers agree on the winter edition as a failed experiment, and end the two-seasons-a-year approach after the summer's instalment.
The last week of the show has, of course, been harder to watch than usual – though it has been sweet to see the genuinely wholesome bonds between each of the final four couples (perhaps for the first time ever?) unfold. To commemorate that wholesomeness, here's a final Power Ranking:
LUKE T AND SIÂNNISE’S DANCE
Credit where it's due, you have to admit this is probably one of the best Love Island moments ever. They are beauty, they are grace: the couple that perfectly executes a choreographed routine to Wiley's "Heatwave" together stays together.
I'm astonished to have seen the day where a Love Island "girlfriend proposal" didn't make me need to leave the room, but Luke T achieved it, mostly just because he really does like her so much. By rights they should have won, but in five years, when they're having a spon-con funded wedding in the Cinderella castle at Disneyland Paris I doubt they’ll care. Good luck to them.
I have strong feelings about the Love Island Prom (spoiler: you can read more about them near the bottom of this list) but it was lovely to see a high-masc, football playing boys’ boy opening up about his feelings on prime time telly so un-self-consciously. Unrelatedly, he’s a beautiful crier…
For a few weeks now, I have wanted to write a short ode to Jess, who I am convinced may well be one of the soundest people to have ever entered the Love Island villa. When she came in with her sister Eve, it was hard for Jess’ full personality to shine through, because she was busy Being a Sexy Twin, but when Eve departed, Jess fully blossomed, leading important villa discussions on feminism, and generally just giving off extremely good vibes. She reminds me of someone who would give you a tampon in a nightclub toilet, and of all the Islanders, if I had to choose someone to just like, get pissed and then have a McDonalds with, I’d go for Jess.
I know that when you’re on Love Island there’s very little you can actually do to show someone how you feel about them, because your life essentially becomes like being in day care but for sexy adults, but breakfast-as-an-expression-of-love must stop, not least because the closeups are always gross.
THE FUTURE OF CHILD-REARING
Not looking good, as per the baby episode.
THE FUCKING LOVE ISLAND PROM
The Love Island prom is a heinous affair, mostly because its participants are all literally adults, and also because all anyone does at their actual prom is get hammered on booze they smuggled in via a Coke bottle, before vomiting on the Head of Year 11’s shoes. What prom is not, then, is a weirdly puritanical, wedding-y affair where 23-year-olds are forced to declare their feelings to each other, and then jump in the swimming pool because *checks notes* that is the rules. Get rid of it!
At its best, when it’s well-cast , Love Island is one of the most genuinely entertaining reality formats the UK has ever seen, but it is fairly hard to tell where it goes from here. With the next summer season apparently going ahead, it would be good to see some changes made – maybe the removal of the clothing partner, which can make the show feel too much like an Instagram conveyor belt, and takes the focus of the show away from the relationships, which are what really make it worth watching. Better than this, however, I think viewers and critics would agree that they’d like to see Love Island and its producers take time away, out of respect to Flack and her family, in order to reflect on recent events, and to think seriously about how – and if – the show moves forwards.