Love Island has officially become as big a part of British culture as chippy chips and taking your top off when it's 17 degrees. An eager 3.3 million viewers tuned in to the premiere of the fifth series on June 3 this year – double the 1.5 million that tuned into the Tory leadership debate to determine our next Prime Minister, which aired less than two weeks later.
But, for many, the life of the islanders has become more than just a point of conversation with co-workers – it is the life they want for themselves, and some people would go to what may seem like extreme lengths to make that happen. Last year there were 85,000 applications to the show. Clearly, it's an increasingly attractive proposition – not just because of the people on it, but because of the resulting lifestyle it promises: one of ease, instant Insta fame and more lifetime earnings than an Oxbridge graduate to soften the blow if you don’t win.
The prospect is so enticing that some people would end their real life relationship to give it a shot. So with that in mind we spoke to some women to find out exactly why they would break up with their boyfriends to go on Love Island.
Sophia, 23, Business Development Manager
VICE: How did you and your boyfriend meet?
Sophia: My best friend is going out with his best friend and we ended up on a night out together. That was just over two years ago, and we’ve been together since. Chris is really warm. He’s a bit of a lad but also very sweet, and a very good listener.
You’ve been together for quite a long time then. What are the biggest obstacles you’ve faced so far?
We went to universities in different cities for the first year of our relationship, and long-distance is never easy. But now we both live in London.
What kind of a future do you see with Chris?
We’re looking at flats together at the moment to take things to the next level. We haven’t outright said we want kids, but they’re definitely on the table.
Sounds like you’ve thought about a serious future together. Why would you risk losing something special like that to go on Love Island?
It’s more to do with the after-show experience and the potential to boost your social status, as well as getting money through different forms of campaigning. It would be great to see my Instagram followers go up.
What would you do with your new found fame?
I would promote some social messages. As someone who works in the non-profit sector being able to have that sort of audience would be massive. My goal is to go on there, strut around in a bikini for a few days, and then eventually change the world.
Admirable! But what about Chris?
He’d be pissed off, but I think he would understand because we're both so young and trying to figure out life. He would’ve been tempted at times, too.
So you think your relationship would be salvable when you get out of the villa?
I hope so! I think if it works and I could help make a difference it would all be worth it. If I flopped inside the villa then not so much.
Which couple are you backing this year?
Whoever Tommy ends up with in the end, he’s such a gent.
Anna, 22, Digital Marketing
VICE: How long have you been with your partner?
Anna: We’ve been together since December, so just over six months.
What’s he like?
Alex is lovely – really outgoing and fun. We were best friends for four years first, so he's always been one of my favourite people.
Do you see your relationship as a long-term thing?
Sometimes, and sometimes not. It depends on how annoying he’s being. It’s still early days at the moment. I think he will always be in my life but maybe not as my boyfriend.
Why would you risk ending your relationship to go on Love Island?
I think Love Island has changed a lot. It isn’t what it used to be. It’s not really about finding love anymore, it’s about making a career and opening up your prospects. I think that’s what I would be interested in. I find the idea that you could go into a TV show and actually find love absolutely bizarre – I don’t think anyone is doing that with any authenticity at all anymore.
If not love, what would you hope to get out of going on the show?
I would love to work in the luxury beauty and fashion industry and I think that would be a really good way to get in. Those are industries that remain quite off-limits if you don't have contacts. I would use the five minutes of being high-profile as my way into something like luxury beauty, or bringing out my own make-up or perfume – I'd turn it into something with a bit more longevity. I think a lot of people now go on Love Island to get lots of followers and get that influencer lifestyle, but actually I would use it to start a business.
Are there any other reality TV shows you’d be interested in?
Something that’s more long-term, like Big Brother. I would go on that.
What would happen with Alex if you found love in the villa?
I don’t think I would find love. Maybe we'd have a pre-arranged agreement beforehand. Actually… No, I think he'd hate it. But I would hope he would forgive me eventually, as long as I was honest and didn’t sleep with anyone on TV.
Which current islander do you think you’re most similar to?
Probably Amber, because she’s really straight-talking and that’s what I'm like. Often when I first meet people they think I’m maybe a bit bitchy but when I get to know them they realise I have my friend’s best interests at heart.
Maria, 24, Software Consultant
VICE: How did you meet your current partner?
Maria: I met Jamie in my third year at university, and we’ve been together nearly two and a half years now.
What’s Jamie like?
So attractive! He’s very straight-talking and honest and is a lot more logical and emotionally controlled than me.
Do you see a future together?
Yeah, hopefully we’re going to move in together next year after he finishes his law training contract.
It seems like you guys are quite serious. Why would you throw it all away to go on Love Island?
I think he would be fully on board, to be honest. He watches Love Island as well. I said to him: “Babe, I’ll go on Love Island and win and we can split the profits,” and he said “Sick.”
We stan a supportive legend. What if you find love on Love Island though?
If I find love then that’s great, but I have no doubt in my mind that they wouldn’t be as good a match for me as Jamie is – that’s why I’m not worried. Not to be judgemental of anyone who goes on there, but I’ve never met anyone who can call me out on my shit like Jamie does, and I don’t think there would be anyone on the island that would be a good match. Physically I fancy them a lot, but there’s more to a long-term relationship than that.
Would Jamie not be upset by seeing you flirt with someone on TV?
I think if I had sex on TV that would be a deal-breaker, but on the whole he’s a very rational guy. Although I did break up with him once and he did cry… We would have to talk about it and discuss boundaries, but I think we would go on a break and if he wanted to date other people while I was on the island then fine. It might be nice – we’ve been together for two and a half years and I think we both see this as a long-term thing. The thing that breaks relationships is as soon as people feel resentful or as if they’re missing out. We’re both very pragmatic and I don’t think it would be hugely upsetting if we got with other people.
Why didn’t you apply this series?
It’s a big risk for me with my job, but if I could go on as one of the originals I think it’d be worth it. I’ve realised I want to go back into academia, and academia doesn’t give a fuck. I would be like the new Brian Cox – some people might look down on it, but If I quit and it doesn’t work out I could do influencing then go back to academia.
Fair play. Thanks Maria!