The cheer that erupted from my living room around 10:30PM last night was enough to make the neighbours think a hole had opened in the ground and swallowed the entire Tory cabinet. Fists were raised, throats were raw, friends were crying, shaking, throwing up at the triumph of true romance over whatever it is Gemma and Luca have going on. But we’ll get to our victors momentarily.
Apart from the last two and a half minutes, the final week of Love Island is crap. It’s basically just seven days of mandatory chaste activities: baby day, an excruciating two episodes of the ominously named “final dates”, meeting the parents and so forth. Some solid entertainment occurs within this framework of organised fun – Ekin-Su weeping while Alfie Boe aka “some guy” belts out “Nessun Dorma” in a pop-up amphitheatre, for instance – but overall there is a sense of running down the clock that gives it a distinct ‘Sunday School before the internet’ vibe. The islanders all look like they’re having a nice time, and good for them, but it’s fucking boring.
Still, Love Island season 8 is going out on a high. A combination of ingenious casting and tweaks to the format have helped it become one of the better seasons in recent memory, though there is a strong case to be made that the one ingredient the show was missing all along was: people from the Mediterranean who will, if nothing else, eventually bring on their parents to do a lot of [crying in Italian].
Unfortunately this trajectory looks set to tank in 2023 when the show reverts to the errors of its pre-pandemic ways by airing two seasons a year. So, until then…
DAVIDE AND EKIN-SU, THE PEOPLE’S CHAMPIONS
These two should also be crowned winners of the Ultimate Strongman competition, the way they carried Love Island 2022 on their backs. Though they received the least votes for compatibility from their fellow islanders earlier in the week, Davide and Ekin-Su have had the hearts of the UK, Europe and beyond in a chokehold ever since they came in announcing “anyone order an Italian snack” and “you’ll never meet another Turkish delight like me” respectively.
They’re easily one of the most beloved couples in Love Island history, but the clamour to see them on TV again as soon as possible, regardless of format, speaks for itself. Demands for a Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan-style travel show are high, as everyone craves to watch, for example, Ekin-Su having road rage while ragging a Mini around the Amalfi coast while Davide starts an argument by saying he wouldn’t bail her out of Italian prison if she runs someone over, and then being forced – by his own love for her – to make an apology carbonara.
However, if there is any justice we’ll see Ekin-Su tapped for a villainous role in Eastenders, to host Eurovision 2023, or to star in Real Housewives of Istanbul. The woman is simply ripe for glam, drama and high camp. Davide meanwhile surely has a powerful career of male advertising to be getting on with, and I personally can’t wait to see him charging out of the Adriatic in the name of Davidoff Cool Water, or announcing “Gillette, the best a man a-can get”.
For the first time in what feels like forever, the UK has seen public opinion land on the right side of history, and I don’t think it’s too extreme to say that they have restored the nation’s faith in a) Love Island’s ability to produce beloved on-screen talent that won’t be forgotten by the time they appear on Aftersun, and b) Voting, as a concept. So I guess what I’m saying is thank you, Davide and Ekin-Su, for saving democracy.
Truly one of the most gorgeous women ever to appear on Love Island, Indiyah has not put a foot wrong this entire season. She came, she served looks, she backed herself, and she should have placed second to be honest but the running order for places two, three and four were all out of whack, let’s be real.
Anyway! I hope Indiyah stepped out of the villa and literally struggled to get home due to the amount of modelling contracts she had to wade through, because she deserves a lifetime of opulence after this. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this woman should not have to put on her own shoes again as long as she lives.
DANICA TWERKING WHILE JAMIE ROLLS BOTH THEIR SUITCASES OUT OF THE VILLA
A high watermark for Love Island culture was when Paige and Gemma joined forces on a duet of “My Humps” for the talent contest because neither of them have any hobbies. Let’s hear it for hot girls doing what hot girls do best: horrible karaoke rap while wearing low-rise jeans, plastic dollar sign necklaces and novelty baseball caps. The 2000s are truly back, baby!
It took people a while to warm to Gemma. She came off as arrogant at first, on account of having a sense of humour that operates on previously undiscovered levels of dryness, and the amount the producers focussed on her during the first few weeks probably did her a disservice. However, with the evenings now yawning free before me, Gemma is one of the contestants I will miss the most. I’ll miss the way the camera cuts to her during a tense emotional conversation, looking completely unreadable in a pair of reflective sunglasses. I’ll miss her providing straight talking advice to Ekin-Su, a woman eight years her senior. I’ll miss her micro-catchphrases such as “absolutely not” and “shit”, delivered in a tone so definitive you can hear the full stop. A panel of the world’s finest scientists, philosophers and astrologers could not explain why a woman so clearly able to advocate for herself has chosen this fellow for her king, but who among us can argue with the mysteries of love.
BABY DAY: REBOOTED
I’m not above accepting that this is a symptom of Stockholm Syndrome, having forsaken at least 64 weeks of my life since its 2015 launch to watching this stupid fucking programme, but I’ve come to think of baby day as one of the highlights of Love Island. Maybe it was all the extra fanfare that went into it this year – the baby drip, Ekin-Su leading pop girlie renditions of lullabies, the game of pass the parcel that gave cause for the music supervisors to pull “Agadoo” (essentially “Chelsea Dagger” for toddlers). Maybe it’s because it introduces a rare external element that forces the couples to interact based on instinct, rather than in a sensory deprivation bubble of their own “connection”. More likely, though, it’s simply funny to watch twenty-something men with arms like battering rams entertaining themselves by putting lipstick on a Baby All Gone.
Ekin-Su’s brother knew this was his time to shine and, despite being 17-years-old, wore that overblown sense of confidence better than most of the large adult men who have gathered around the fire pit all summer. He strode into the villa announcing himself as a new bombshell, threw his head back to catch his angles in the sun and interrogated Davide on his intentions with his sister – because “my sister deserves the best” – like a world-weary father looking out for his first born. Naturally everyone was quick to dub him the new Timothee Chalamet because he has a sharp jawline and hair, which is a bit of a stretch, but I fear we have not seen the last of this boy.
ADAM “THE MAGICIAN” COLLARD
I don’t know what in the David Blaine happened here, honestly. From being the arch villain of 2018 – a veritable Cobra with abs – to doing card tricks in a little dickie bow and top hat for a girl that has made him cry with joy, Adam Collard has wrapped a narrative arc that took Steve Stifler 13 years and several American Pie films to complete. Whether it’s the years of 80+ date club tours and water cutting giving him a two-failed-marriages vibe or what, I don’t know, but I refuse to believe this man is only 26.
Millie Court and her little electric keyboard have so much to answer for. Between Tasha playing the cups, Dami rapping off beat and Indiyah struggling to honk out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” on the recorder, this year’s talent show was like that trend of shoving a tiny mic in your cat’s face to hear it yowl.
Arguably the most impressive talent once again was Ekin-Su’s performative nature, as she hit ‘em with the Simon Cowell and reviewed Luca’s performance of “Breaking Free” off of High School Musical by suggesting that he works on his breathing skills. Get this woman on a judging panel instantly.
THE NEVER ENDING FINAL
After a long week of not much happening, Love Island viewers are treated with an extended finale in which things happen even less. There is the writing of vows, the exchanging of vows, ten minutes of product placement dressed up as a spa day, and then Laura Whitmore asking the finalists non-questions like “Are you excited?” and "Did you ever think you’d make it this far?” for a length of time that leaves everyone croaking “it’s been 84 years…” like old Rose in Titanic.
They don’t even give the winning couple the chance to ‘split or steal’ the money at the end, so there’s absolutely no skin in the game. Unless they introduce an obstacle course or a quiz or a Gladiator-style ring – anything to make the ending feel like an event, rather than a traffic jam en route to two names on a piece of paper – this must stop.