On Monday, the demon who guards the dark, dank cave in which we spend most of the year heaved the stone door open and stepped inside, in order to summon us.
We had known that this time would come soon. We watched the light lengthen by a few minutes every day through the cracks in our wall. We wondered whether we would be needed again as we listened through the quiet, and heard the faint whispers of 24-year-olds describing themselves “in three words” for “quick bits of social content, please” carrying themselves to us on the wind.
Lo, our speculations proved correct. Love Island is here again and so we must provide our grand divinations and our Paul the Octopus-like intuitions (some have also called them “random guesses made based on jokes we’ve thought of”). We are once again your humble servants, stirred from our dank and mossy dwelling to complete the only task for which we were truly meant on this earth: making middling-to-good jokes about Crocs and crap tattoos, in this, the patented VICE Love Island Power Ranking.
Our first impressions were positive: season eight’s format changes are needed, and the cast have been well chosen. The fact that on top of all that, halfway through an already promising episode, Love Island also threw in a man who announced himself by bellowing about “AN ITALIAN SNACK” as though he had a pouch of biscotti to share, and is so laughably, Disney prince good-looking that immediately upon seeing him all the girls started talking like the backwards, Black Lodge Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks, however, was an indication of possible “I’m sat”-level brilliance.
Thus, with all of this great hope in our shrivelled prune hearts, for the first time in 2022, we present to you our map of power in the Love Island villa: where it lacks, where it lies, and where it may go from here.Phot
DAVIDE, THE ITALIAN SNACK
The main thing fans have demanded from Love Island over the last few years is more LGBTQ contestants. The producers have heard these demands, deliberated them internally, and responded by… sending in a 100 percent Italian man. And you know what? They were right to do it. In place of their traditional female “bombshell” this year is Davide, a reanimated Vatican sculpture who entered the villa on a chariot made of TUI holiday fantasy and pheromones.
To be honest I already feel terribly sorry for this man, whose very normal name has been mispronounced as “David”, “David-ah” and “David…eh?”, and whose soul will wither in real time when faced with the culture shock of an environment in which the height of romance involves sharing a beanbag, drinking Blossom Hill from plastic flutes and remarking on how “mad” it is that you’ve both only had one previous relationship. Even so, from a viewer's perspective, it’s probably the greatest tactical decision in the history of reality dating television.
Not since Shannon Singh’s intricate balayage of season seven (gone from our screens too soon! I wanted to see how it grew out!) has so powerful a hairdo been swished into the Love Island villa. This is a ponytail for the ages – perfectly, pristinely flicked as though conjured from a 90s movie – worn with clearly superior style to boot: It is, I’m sorry to say, because of Indiyah that I have already been seriously wondering whether I should procure a tasselled sarong.
Maybe it's the choice of casting and slightly revamped format that makes everyone start on equal footing, maybe I've just been inside too long and forgotten what a normal interaction is, but this Love Island premiere felt uncharacteristically… wholesome? The girlies were girlying, as ever, complimenting outfits and saying "we love you!" to each other within the first ten minutes. But there were lots of other cute moments too, most notably a lovely speech from Tash about her hearing impairment, which was met with an equally heartwarming response. Call me wet, but it was nice to emerge from an episode of Love Island without immediately wanting to watch an Aileen Wuornos documentary to balance the scales.
THE SOUND “WOO”
Summer is a busy time for the sound “woo” in general – festivals, hen parties and so on – so it does find itself spread a bit thin by June, but it always makes time for Love Island. Because ultimately, nowhere does “woo” find itself in greater demand than on this show. Going into the villa? “Woo!” Someone is opening a bottle of Prosecco? “Woo!” A person receives a text message? “Wooooo!”
On Love Island, “woo” is an expression of in-group sentiment, a cry of dominance, a mating call. It is all things to all people. In many ways, this one syllable sums up Love Island’s entire raison d’être. I “woo” therefore I am.
ELT AND JOHN
After the runaway success of 2021 winner Liam, from South Wales, this year features a comedic highlight in the form of: Liam, from South Wales. Within the first few minutes he admitted he thought for 20 years that Elton John was a duo consisting of Elt and also John, tried to calculate out how Gemma Owen was able to fit 17 horses in her house and, when faced with Laura Whitmore informing him that there’s something new about the new process, said, with all the awareness of someone who’s just been caught sleeping in geography: “what”. Between him and former NHS worker Paige, who attempted to stick it on Davide by saying she modelled her relationship #goals on Mafia books, it’s another strong showing for the Welsh this year.
The opening montage is always a treat isn’t it? Truly sublime in its ridiculousness: terrible graphics showing cells merging into one before forming a scientifically inaccurate heart shape; guys in offices unbuttoning their shirts and laughing at the wall; the one person who is a student so they just film them sitting in a library. This is real British pageantry!
THE PUBLIC VOTE
People cannot be trusted to make good decisions for themselves on the spot, especially when it's vaguely to do with sex. This is one law that is as true in Love Island as it is in life. Do you understand the layers of hell that would unfold if you presented me with a row of semi-nude strangers and said “select one”? It's like trying to pick out a pair of jeans without seeing them on a model.
Fortunately this decision has been taken out of the men's hands by the audience, who have so far created seemingly zero compatible couples with the added benefit of obscuring everyone's "type on paper". An hour and a half flew by without a single man uttering the phrase "blonde hair and blue eyes" through clenched veneers. Sweet release – for now, at least.
UK FISH SALES
“I’m Luca Bish and I sell fish” is this year’s spin on Chuggs and his bucket hat business; a name and occupation so powerful in union that the islanders were too busy laughing at it to notice Gemma Owen dropping clues about her dad's identity. Why this man has a photorealistic tattoo of Albert Einstein on his shoulder is yet to be revealed, but no doubt somewhere in Brighton is about to give Binley Mega Chippy a run for its money.
One trend that has unfortunately carried over from 2021 is the obsession with feet. Crocs, foot fondling and the phrase “suck the toe” all featured prominently, which probably says less about our sexual proclivities as a society and more about the unique madness of the villa. Throw a bunch of hot, newly-minted celebrities together in a constant state of frisson that they can't act on due to being on TV, and it won't be long before someone puts their mouth on something benign in a way that ends up feeling far more perverse than if they'd done "the broken eagle" right there in the fire pit.
MICHAEL OWEN, THE IMPLICATION OF
When people have famous family members or connections on Love Island it is always quite entertaining when you can tell that they are deciding whether or not to mention it (the funniest one ever was in season three when Marcel wouldn’t stop talking about being in Blazin’ Squad).
Gemma Owen, daughter of footballer Michael, has decided to keep her cards close to her chest – but that hasn’t stopped the big man hovering over pretty much every conversation his daughter has had so far: invisible, liminal, there but not, the ghost of that time he said he “doesn’t watch films” pervading the screen whenever Gemma talks about football or her last name. And while I am enjoying the suspense, I mostly hope she just gets the reveal out of the way soon because I’m not sure how much longer I can wait to see the upwards-of-ten different emotions that will flit across sweet summer child Liam’s face when she does.
The first real bonding experience between the women of Love Island this year was over a shared ick, and that’s how you know that every single one of them is a legend. “Ugly trunks,” as well as being a marvellous phrase in and of itself (thank you Paige: I adore you and believe your literary pursuits in the genres of “mafia” and “romance” have served you well) are a highly legitimate ick.
Described by The Girls as the type of swim shorts that have “pineapples” on them, in one of the most “two glasses in at bottomless brunch” (i.e. amazing) observations ever made on TV, “ugly trunks” is a highly specific image, as all of the most penetrating icks are. I’m afraid the entire FatFace brand has been found rotting.