One week of this fucking programme and already I have forgotten what life was like before it returned. Who was I before I started going to bed fretting about how Liberty and Kaz are going to feel when they realise that Jake and Toby don’t really like them that much? How was I coping before I knew about Liam’s chillingly lifelike Frank Sinatra tattoo? What did I even used to do in the liminal time period between “work ending” and “frantically trying to make the ITV Hub work at 8:58PM”? Let me tell you: it was no life.
There have been some complaints on social this week regarding Love Island 2021’s slightly lacklustre start. These are not entirely valid because Love Island is nothing if not reliably shit during the first week as everyone acclimates to the whole “living on a TV set” thing, though I will say at this point that it *is* quite funny to look upon a villa quite so bereft of real chemistry (Aaron and Sharon are doing their best, and fair play to them, but they do sort of call to mind that one couple in your friend group at school who always made out loudly at lunchtime). I’m hoping that week two brings bombshells and head-turns aplenty – and Rachel’s introduction on Sunday night bodes very well indeed – but in the meantime, here’s how things are playing out right now:
In her own words, "heavy is the head that wears the crown" – and what a set of jewels Rachel has embedded in hers over the last hour-and-a-bit of television. Entering the villa as a new contestant single-handedly in charge of deciding the fate of two lads is probably the biggest big dick moment anyone could have on Love Island, but Rachel waltzed in with the most casually powerful vibe I have ever seen.
She crossed the villa with the gait of someone called up to the front of the class to give a geography presentation, dug a phone out from the back of her skirt to read the text announcing her authority, then stuck her tongue out. I can only imagine this is the kind of temperament you need to bring when your job is booking luxury holidays for the super-rich but your personality is knocking about at home in an unwashed tracksuit having a laugh with the girlies. It’s a vibe many islanders claim to have (how many times have we heard a guy describe himself as “down to earth” or a size 8 girl say “pasta is the way to my heart”), but very few have actually demonstrated. Rachel came through, said “why are you dressed in all these polyester blend teddies for it’s day seven,” spent half her time on screen knocking about in cycle shorts and a crop top, then did an ocular pat-down on Brad and called him a "dick" in a tone so charming it was basically a 15-second crash course in negging.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of Love Island is watching gobby women of Britain giving shit to an absolutely crap man, so seeing Rachel lay into Brad for not knowing what “coq au vin” is while also wrongly describing it as duck was high art to me. She is also famously 29, a fact apparently so shocking to people that "She's 29" was trending on Twitter for several hours. To which I say: you get the face you deserve, and this is what a lifetime of being an unbothered legend gets you.
‘CHUGGS,’ THE WORD
Often, on Twitter specifically, a word or phrase from popular culture will totally catch fire (for example: “big dinners,” “30-50 feral hogs”). You’ll start to see it everywhere, and some people who consider themselves above the whole thing will then instead post performatively about muting the word or phrase, so ubiquitous has it become.
In order to gain this type of meme status, in the first instance, the word or phrase needs a certain humour about it, whether that be in its cadence, rhythm, or specificity. In the second instance, the word or phrase should be in some sense at least slightly absurd. And so: a Love Island contestant from Surrey – who runs a bucket hat business called Booby Buckets – announcing in the manner of a guy running for Student Union President on a platform of “waviness, chaps” that he would like, on national television, to be referred to as “Chuggs.” And so, and so, and so.
For a brief moment “Chuggs” was inescapable. It trended on Twitter within seconds, such was its immediate memetic power. The Chuggs Reveal happened an entire day before Chuggs himself was set upon the villa – unleashed, in lilac Crocs – so while the frenzy around his name had everything to do with the facts viewers did know about him, it was basically completely divorced from his personality, and in fact, happened because of this lack of context. It quite quickly became, by Twitter’s kind of ineffable but nonetheless concrete standards, just an irresistible word to tweet. That is the power of “Chuggs”: something in how that double “g” looks written down is funnier to me than any joke I’ve ever heard a professional comedian make.
You could say that the Chuggs incident is an interesting microcosm of the way we post about Love Island in general – making the jokes we want to make, using a small amount of footage to project our ideas about the world onto. But you could also say, with just as much validity, that it’s just really funny to tweet out absolute crap. The world is a multitudinous place.
THESE UNDERBOOB WIRING BIKINIS
These have quickly emerged as this year’s supreme swimsuit and while they look banging on everyone I can’t help but worry they are leaving some quite sore red marks at the end of the day.
A rough start to the week for Chloe, in that she was forced into inadvertently being the reason why Shannon was dumped from the island after two days (resulting in her family posting on social media that she had received death threats, and ITV helpfully reminding everyone to “be kind” on the Love Island social channels, despite their pointless stirring of the pot in the first place).
Happily, however, she and her Paris Hilton-esque vocal changes – somewhere between Made in Chelsea and the hot snake in the Garden of Eden when talking to a boy; “fucking hell mate” and dropping an octave when talking to Faye in the bathroom – bounced back, and she is now showing herself to be solid islander material: a girl’s girl who didn’t fake attraction to Brad or Chuggs and instead chose to couple up with Everyone’s Mate Hugo, so that they both might live to sit on the balcony in head to toe ISAWITFIRST, waiting for true, gym-fit love to arrive another day.
BEACH HUT SESSIONS WHICH, JUDGED BY THEIR CONTENT, COULD FEASIBLY DOUBLE AS POST-MATCH INTERVIEWS GIVEN BY FOOTBALLERS AT THE EUROS
“So it’s been going really well and I’m really pleased with the progress we’re making, yeah. I don’t want to get complacent or anything – it’s going to be hard graft to get to this next stage, but I’m just looking forward to seeing how everything goes, just letting it happen, yeah. It is a lot of pressure but you’ve just got to push forward, be tactical, be confident. Because tomorrow is a new day, at the end of the day. Do you know what I mean?”
In the same way New York City is said to be the fifth character in Sex and the City, so too have feet become an ambient presence within the villa – an erotic phantom, always on display but rarely in focus.
Perhaps the pandemic combined with the prevalence of fetish memes on TikTok has sauced up heterosexual culture, but this season we have not one but two vocal foot enthusiasts on Love Island. And the thing about this particular fetish is that once you out yourself as a foot person it instantly usurps the rest of your identity. Like: "Who's that one from Weston-super-Mare with the remembrance day tattoo who puts his sunglasses on before he's even got out of bed again?" "Oh you mean Jake, the foot guy."
Perhaps it's because feet are so divisive. To some the idea of suckling on a big toe is like a Bushtucker Trial, to others it is a privilege to be bought and paid for. Feet are mysterious, abject, often hanging. It is unpleasant to imagine the feet of those we do not like, especially if they are figures of sexual pity or extreme moralism (consider the trotters of: Matt Hancock, The Queen, older man who goes out clubbing alone and tries to pick up girls by repeatedly insisting that her mates don’t like him). Most importantly, though, feet are really funny.
We also now have anti-foot representation in the form of Rachel, whose intense dislike for feet was one of the first things she revealed about herself on air. Whether the Foot Chat will escalate beyond a loose framework that divides the villa into pervs and puritans is yet to be seen, but for better or worse it’s clearly here to stay.
So far Brad had mostly given us 'man so good looking he has never had to refine other characteristics', but after finding himself at risk of being dumped from the villa he suddenly developed a vibe over the course of an episode.
In one urgent morning and a challenge involving ripping off a pair of gigolo’s suit trousers, he went from being a guy who seems like he would reply to your nudes three days later to a guy who would give you a piggy back down the high street after a night out. Perhaps all this man needs is a lust for life, a reason to strive for something beyond a milky latte at the same coffee shop with the same bunch of lads every Saturday for eternity. Perhaps he’s just really boring. He’s up for the chop tonight anyway, so: godspeed you, Brad who hasn’t had sex since the winter of 2019.
THE CONCEPT OF TYPES
The discussion of “types” happens every single year on Love Island. Men huddle in groups only able to say “blonde” or “brunette” like it’s a GCSE French lesson, but this year it feels a lot more forced.
In Sunday night’s episode Brad described Rachel as being “more towards his type” because she has “dark features”, when she is in fact just Black and it’s OK to say so Brad!
Of course, some people have rigid types (I literally don’t notice when my one friend starts dating someone new because they all look exactly the same), but I implore everyone to stop referring to everyone by their hair colour and features, and go back to grouping people together in more meaningful ways like “skaters” or “really rich” or if you’re into feet like Jake, “women-who-get-big-toe-extensions-at-the-nail-shop”. It would mean, at least, that Chloe, Faye and Liberty don’t have to hold their breath so hard they almost faint every time someone else who happens to be blonde walks in.
‘CHUGGS,’ THE PERSON
Where there is “Chuggs,” the word, there must also be “Chuggs” the person. I think this is what people mean when they say “the duality of man.”
There is an old adage (by this I mean: it is something I say a lot), which states that posh men rarely fare particularly well on Love Island and I fear that Chuggs – despite the raging storm with which the very utterance of his name took the internet from 10-11PM on Wednesday night – may live up to it. Private education can get you far in life but I’m afraid it will not get you fancied on this programme. Love Island: the great leveller.
Horny Devils gave us confessions like “This boy once had sex in a car park” and Undercover Lovers gave us the gifts of gunge and tear off trousers. Thank you to whoever at ITV makes up the challenges for forcing us to relive Fresher’s Week every week.