Remember when you were a kid and you’d hop into school one bright day in mid-July – jumper tied round your waist, shoelaces undone, joy unbridled – knowing that it was going to be the last time you had to be there for six whole weeks? Six weeks, to you, felt like the longest amount of time any person has ever had to spare; every hour brimming with possibility, blue-sky afternoons spent in parks stretching into forever, the nights warm enough to ride your bike, breathlessly, without a jacket, whooshing through a breeze of your own creation. Six whole weeks of pure summer.
So it’s good, isn’t it, how now you’re an adult and you’ve got a job and you’ve spent that entire length of time centring your life and plans around a reality TV show? For six weeks, you’ve been getting home in time to let the oven pre-heat just long enough to ensure that the waffles you put in at 8:40PM are perfectly crisp in time for 9PM, which is Love Island time, which is as close to total euphoria as you can get while splayed on a couch that belongs to your landlord with a plateful of potato shapes resting on your belly.
A conservative estimate would have it that, so far, if you haven’t missed an episode, you have taken in 36 hours of Love Island (that’s not counting longer episodes and the couple of times you’ve been in by yourself on a Saturday night and found your little paw inching over towards the remote at 8:55PM, as you pondered "shall I… I could watch a film. Could watch Mulholland Drive. Or The Sopranos—" but didn’t finish the thought because ITV2 was already on, Love Island: The Weekly Hotlist blaring bright blues and pinks out of your television). That's a day-and-a-half. Haha! Funny, really, when you think about it! Time passing, mortality and all that. God. Anyway. Power Ranking anyone?
Samira, in the end, out-powered Love Island: she’s the only contestant this year to have left the villa for love, which is, really, the most powerful thing a person on the show can do. Samira looked directly into the eyes of the charcoal toothpaste sponsorships that a full series in the villa can get you, and simply shook her head. Instead, she strapped on her heels and followed her heart all the way back to Gatwick Airport arrivals. That’s power.
Despite mounting evidence that the show’s edit attempted to relegate her to secondary character status (a number of her friendships, and her night with Frankie in the Hideaway – i.e. the Rut Shack, entry to which marks an important moment in a couple’s trajectory on the show – weren’t given proper air time, or indeed any at all), Samira was too much of an irrepressible legend for that to have an effect on how she was viewed by the public. Samira of iconic blue sequins; Samira of god-tier cheekbones; Samira of mercifully speaking to Dr Alex like a normal person and not someone who fundamentally deserves a lady to painfully finger on TV. We love you and we will miss you, and even though you weren’t there the whole time, we think you’ll get all the discount code deals you want anyway and we promise we’ll use them so your stats are good.
Charlie, as we know, is crap (see below), but I recently found myself idly scrolling through his Instagram because that’s apparently how I now use my spare time. Among all the usual rich prick bollocks (skiing holidays, ridiculous cars, thinly veiled but plausibly deniable joke about how his name is slang for cocaine) I found the above picture, which appears to be of Charlie, his brother and his dad.
Now, I do just have to ask: will you look at the bollocks on the dad? The way he is holding the drink says, "I am rich. Please look at my £30 cocktail as proof." The expensively padded jacket. The most nakedly phallic cigar known to man. The casual peep of Rolex (“You see that darlin'?" he whispers. "You like that?”). He knows what you want. Send him into the villa tomorrow and watch as every woman in there leaves their man’s side within seconds, pulled towards him by an invisible magnetism, rubbing suncream lovingly into his magenta back before the end of the day.
ASKING SOMEONE TO BE YOUR GIRLFRIEND, THE CONCEPT THEREOF
The final two weeks are shit because everyone's in love and that’s boring. I know, I know: the name of the show. I know: the entire point of this is the journey of watching 12 almost illegally horny people getting transformed into soppy romantics by way of enforced bed sharing. I know this, I understand this. But bliss is boring to watch. We’ve been talking about Georgia doing a headlock-kiss combo on New Jack for about two weeks now, because nothing else is really happening. Happiness is dull.
In domesticity, we find the deranged. Jack already asked Dani to be his girlfriend weeks ago, because they were destined to be together since the day they were both born (on ancient stone tablets buried deep under Brentwood high street, it is written: "And Lo, in the Year of Our Lord Two-Thousand Eighteen, On An Island in the Mediterranean Sea, Dani, Daughter of Danny, and Jack, Son of Whoever, Shall Meet And Kiss And Not Fuck, And They Shall Come Back To Us, The True King and Queen of Essex"). Wes was about to ask Megan, but instead she sort of beat him to the punch by stuttering "I… got… a… feeling" over the course of about 20 minutes. Josh leaping back into the house post-picnic yelling, "I'VE GOT A GIRLFRIEND!" like he just caught a rare Pokémon. In this house – such a pressure cooker of emotion, the sheer number of contact hours meaning one day in the Villa is worth a month of dating in the outside world – people declare Lust then Like then Love across an incredibly accelerated timeline. I literally would not be surprised if Jack proposes to Dani by the end of this run. In next year’s show, a Day #1 couple will be married by the final day. For this reason, in the Villa, Asking Someone To Be Your Girlfriend is incredibly important, and solemn and holy, and always involves gathering four random lads to a white outdoor sofa and going, "You know why I’ve called you here, boys." This week it was Charlie’s time to go absolutely insane because his weak human body cannot deal with the power of his love: he carved "BE MY GF?" on his chest with a blunted Mac lipstick, set up some absurd slapstick nonsense that involved getting red wine on his jeans instead of his shirt because Jack fucked up, then slowly unbuttoned in front of Ellie to reveal a birthmark-looking pink stain that sort of looked like it said something. "What?" Ellie said, a lot, then, "Yes." My guy didn’t exist on the show until he did this nonsense. He is worth £400 million. What are you doing here, Charlie, covered in lipstick and indignity, wine on your jeans, in the middle of a Villa, trying to love a Geordie? Honestly, mate. Grow up.
Jack is the childhood pal who lasted since school; who always sends a voice note doing an impression of Norris from Corrie when you’re sad; who gets the Prosecco in for everyone on payday; who speaks about football in a way that everyone can understand, no matter their interest level; who texts at 00:01AM on your birthday; who’s friends with your mum and helps her fix the car when it’s playing up; whose smile makes you feel a bit funny sometimes, though you’ve never told anyone; who brings his new girlfriend to the pub after work one day; who seems so happy with her it makes a piece of your heart crack off every time you look at them together; who, now you think about it, you’ve always kind of imagined yourself ending up with; who, if you’re honest, you can’t really imagine life without. That’s who Jack is.
WES AND MEGAN
Wes and Megan are a stable and reliable force, like an old tree in the wind or your nan coming down for dinner every Sunday. They’re both quite playful when they want to be – fun, even, in the context of what is quite frankly a severely dehydrated year for banter. But when it comes to Having A Chat, their faces freeze over like witches turning to stone and they become completely unreadable. Inside The Villa, this makes them very powerful. They do whatever they want and they’re hot enough to get away with it, which is so thoroughly the modus operandi of this show it should be the tagline.
Their power is such that they don’t even play into what the audience wants from them. They won the title of "Most Annoying Couple" this week, and I’m pretty sure it’s because they appear to be happy, when what we want is for them to be the creators and deflectors of chaos they were when they were miserable. Now, all they do is sit around all day snogging, or else they’re off camera clearly rutting in the communal bedroom. Wes basically has a semi approximately 100 percent of the time. Megan is expressing sincere feelings, which you don’t like, do you?? Because she’s supposed to be MEAN, ISN’T SHE? She’s supposed to be EVIL??? AS IF HER APPEARANCE DENOTES AN INHERENT INAUTHENTICITY AND EMOTIONAL DETACHMENT THAT WE MUST NOW ACKNOWLEDGE AS QUALITIES ASCRIBED BY PATRIARCHAL READINGS OF BEAUTY BECAUSE IN FACT MEGAN IS A NICE GIRL WITH A CRACKING PAIR OF BOOBS WHO JUST WANTS TO LAUGH HYSTERICALLY AT HER RIPPED BOYFRIEND RE-ENACTING A MEME FROM 2017?????????
Anyway, yeah, Wes and Megan: good.
Idris might be the strongest latecomer ever to grace The Villa. He simply came in, minced about the girls in extremely tight shirts without begging it, almost destroyed a relationship in the process and then burned his entire physique into the retinas of the nation with a striptease so virile it could’ve got a cis man pregnant. Despite being dumped from the island in favour of Dr Alex (whose own striptease involved exclaiming, "Hell!" before weakly booting a door open), Idris somehow left with twice the power he had when he went in. Which is more than can be said for the other lad who had mirror sunglasses surgically attached to his face and whose name I have quite forgotten.
THE APPEASEMENT OF DR ALEX
Listen, I hate Alex (Wales' Pinkest Hall Monitor). But I quite like Alex (Hertfordshire Make-Up Artist and, Hopefully, My Future Murderer). This is tricky, then: on one hand, I recognise that Alex (F) has been thrown in like a sexy dog toy to appease Alex (M), as part of a narrative I don’t fully understand or endorse (if the lad can’t shag, he shouldn’t be in the Villa – sending Girl Alex in specifically to hook up with Boy Alex is like using a cheat code on a PlayStation) (Girl Alex is literally Boy Alex’s hard-baked entitlement made flesh, we should not! Be endorsing! His wet-lad! Behaviour!).
On the other hand, Girl Alex is so fundamentally level-headed and sound that I want to see more of her, even if all of her screen time so far involves wetly kissing Boy Alex so he stops stuttering the word "Hell!" out while wearing white rip-cut jeans at her. It’s confusing: I hate Boy Alex… but also I kind of like him now he’s hooked up with Girl Alex, who is good. But I also hate that she had to go in there fundamentally for him. But I like that she’s there. I’m confused! Just let me watch them fuck! I’m confused!
ELLIE AND CHARLIE
Personally quite pleased to see the back of the Hansel and Gretel of ITV2. Given another day on the island, their flaws – being Rich Person Boring and Bang Into Gossip Boring, respectively – would have levelled up from insignificant background noise to insufferable narrative-driving drama. A man worth £400 million does not deserve to win Love Island, I’m sorry. He doesn’t need to be on it, watch it, or even know what it is. I wish him and Ellie a long and happy future snapping at each other on private jets, but they can absolutely get off my programme about #influencers scrimmaging for fifty grand to split on nose jobs.
Georgia, we must remember, is 20 years old. At that age I was wearing a lot of tartan leggings and spent a lot of time at house parties roaring through my mephedrone-clenched-teeth about how Animal Collective were the best band in the world, so who am I to judge? That said, I am also really looking forward to the day technology advances enough to be able to mute individual people on reality television. — Emma
Yes, but ever since she got with that wet-lad who looks like the teacher out of Hey, Arthur I have hated her, get her out immediately. — Joel
I will tolerate this whining child no longer. The sheer force of her nonsensical bellows of the word "LOYAL" as she stomps through the villa, like if a toddler was Godzilla, are going to cause me a head injury. — Lauren
Okay, honestly, I'm sorry to be petty, but the thing about Georgia is that I cannot help but feel slightly betrayed by her. Early on, I was impressed by the way she comforted the sad women of the villa – she was, I thought, the sort of friend who would come round your house and make you a tea if you were sad, perching on the side of the couch and just listening – but this morphed into something monstrous, whereby she seems to have convinced herself that she is loyalty incarnate, incapable of disloyalty by virtue of literally being the concept of loyalty. It is the only explanation. No more. Take her away on the boat, Caroline. Don’t let her on Aftersun. — Lauren, again
Ah yes, how does that old saying go? "Behind every megalomaniac giant topknot – a topknot the way Gregor Samsa was a bug – with a fundamental and arguably wilful misunderstanding of language, there’s the fucking human limpet who enables her behaviour and wilts in the sun if he is not physically touching her at all times," is it? Love that one.