The best thing about Love Island is that it's the same every year, like Christmas or the flu. There is the challenge where they spit food in each other's mouths, and there is Casa Amor, and there is the challenge where they have to fill in the mean tweets, and we feel comfort and relief because this is what we know, just with a different batch of hot people.
This past week – Week Six, we're really getting there now – we've been treated to two of the best Love Island annual traditions. The first: the hallowed Sexy Dancing Challenge, which is usually the annual highlight – but I do have to say: this one was a massive letdown, because most of the contestants didn't dance, and instead just dry-humped their chosen target while wearing a costume, making it feel a lot like a sixth form Halloween party. Megan Barton-Hanson did not shove Wes Nelson's face into her tits for this. For shame, 2019 contestants.
However, the minor disappointment of the dance challenge gave way to the second annual event this week: a visit to the Island Club, which is where the contestants get to have a "night out" before Caroline Flack comes clomping in to completely wreck the vibe and send someone packing. We know this, and we are – however morally ambiguously – entertained by it. It is good to have predictability in the chaos. It is good to impose order. And thus, a Power Ranking:
AMBER AND OVIE
Amber and Ovie are the Guy Fawkes of Love Island, except instead of plotting to blow up the Houses of Parliament they're about to blow up the entire concept of this shag-obsessed show. In a sex villa specifically constructed to facilitate relationship drama, they’re winning the hearts and minds of the nation despite not having one single ounce of bang energy between them.
Frankly, everyone knows that Love Island is not actually about being into a stranger you have to share a bed for the entertainment of the nation, so Amber and Ovie's partnership is, if anything, more real than any other in there.
[Chanting slowly intensifies] Friend Island! Friend Island! Friend Island!
There is no money in the Love Island villa, so another type of currency must be introduced, a bit like in prison. As far as I have observed, the most potent villa currency is gossip. Being aware of gossip means that you are in the know, you are well-liked, you are in the inner circle. Gossip, for example, is what keeps Anna so consistently powerful within the villa – she is highly trusted among the girls and therefore knows literally everything, like the Three Eyed Raven in an infinite array of Kardashian-esque neutral-coloured two-pieces.
This week, we saw a real-time depiction of how gossip spreads in the villa, i.e. like fucking measles. When all the couples sat down to eat dinner after Anton, Jordan and Tommy had been sent shopping, Tommy – like the loyal Golden Retriever he is – told Molly-Mae that Anton wrote his phone number for the cashier as A Bit of Banter with the Lads You Know How It Is Mate. As soon as Molly-Mae found out this information, it was as though she communicated it telepathically to the rest of the women in the villa, each girl's head whipping around like Linda Blair as soon as she caught a hint of something illicit going on.
Gossip makes people excited at the best of times, so just imagine what it would be like to hear a juicy, unexpected tidbit in a controlled environment where you’re not allowed your phone and you’re only meant to talk about yourself and the people surrounding you. Like coming up off a pinger, probably.
Curtis has somehow wound up with two beautiful women vying for his attention, despite being the human version of a crocheted placemat. His plan? To slowly extricate himself from the situation while he makes up his mind, gradually moving from sharing a bed with Francesca, to the day bed, to – probably – just lying in the foetal position on a patch of grass near one of the outdoor walls so as not to "disrespect" either of the "lovely ladies".
VICE UK would like to make clear that it does not endorse Curtis' current position in the Power Ranking, but is beholden to accurately representing what's going on in the villa.
You lot all wrote Belle off veeeery quickly, but I knew. I knew the second she said the words "I've got a cracking pair of tits" on her very first VT that somewhere along the line we would be onto a winner. And when I say "winner" I mean "woman who will verbally lash a man to within an inch of his life in a nightclub constructed out of plywood and IKEA furniture, and lit like subscription-quality porn".
The crux of Belle’s problem seemed to be that Anton kissed Anna on the lips during the Snog, Marry, Pie challenge, but it also seemed to involve a bit of a hangover from the Great Cashier Phone Number Saga of the previous day. Either way, Belle felt like she’d been disrespected (she said she’s got "old school" values in the exact way you’d expect someone whose dad is famously in gangster films to), and as such did the one thing you can do on Love Island that ensures you both screen time and an eternal place in my heart: screaming at a man wearing a shirt one size too small for him.
On the strength of her performance on Sunday night's episode I hope that the BBC decides to commission a spin-off about Peggy Mitchell’s early years with Belle as the star, because my god she has earned it.
With the charisma of a "class clown" who never had to try because his dad is rich and the appearance of a former pop-punk bassist with a reasonably successful OnlyFans, Chris is a rogue choice for the villa. A business development manager by trade, he registers as a member of a subculture on the rise: men under 30 in white collar jobs who do skincare, wear kimonos to Glastonbury and are really enthusiastic about going down on you while being hopeless at it. In short, he is exactly the sort of person I would sleep with for a few weeks in secret.
Considering he was chosen as Maura’s back-up in a recoupling that made her cry, it does look as though Chris' fate may be the same as most contestants drafted in part-way through (RIP George, Marvin, Arabella). Unless they’re involved in some sort of conflict with a more established islander, newcomers tend to struggle for screen-time – and with about 40 minutes to make a defining impression on the audience it really is difficult to get a foothold.
However, the minimal information we do have about Chris is weird enough that it might just pull him through. We know he loves Harry Potter, vindaloo and "a girl with a big eye", but behind the "Veni Vidi Vici" script tattoo and friendship bracelet, there’s something quite likeable about him. Is he funny? Is he annoying? Or does he just, at a glance, look like a number of already-famous Men With Big Quiffs – Nick Grimshaw / Mark Ronson / Roddy St James from Flushed Away, is that you?
More on this next week, when my gift of foresight will hopefully be less clouded by his fantastic hair and tongue-me-deeply-on-the-tube vibe.
Brave, foolish child; wearer of headgear that could be feasibly described as "funky". In some ways, I respect your bold choice: choosing to couple up with Curtis – a central player in the villa – is a strong strategy for getting as much screen time and promo for your Essex boutique as possible, especially as a latecomer. But equally: now Maura’s just getting him to straddle her right in your eye-line. Wouldn’t this all just have been a lot less hassle if you’d picked Chris? Or Marvin, if you can remember him?
Unfortunately, a huge part of being successful on Love Island is understanding the very delicate emotional ecosystem of the villa, and Francesca, I am sorry, but you have misjudged this. One day soon you will wake up with a horse head in your bed and Curtis in Maura's, and it will be all your own fault.
SEXINESS JUST AS A CONCEPT
Obliterated, unfortunately. Seen off by ten highly entertaining but no less repellent minutes of reality television.
Remember Pink Alex? The unlucky-in-love guy from last year, who somehow made it to very near the end of the series riding along purely on pity and technicalities? Anton is actually this year’s Alex
He’s finally found a woman who is actually interested in him, and he’s fucked it up by uttering the worst sentence that any straight man can: "I'm quite laddy and I banter a lot." For someone who uses breath spray any time a woman comes near him, to accuse Belle of embarrassing him is unthinkable. He’s no longer endearing, but hopefully he stays in until their families come to visit, so that Belle’s dad can enter the villa and just, like, stare him down until he physically melts or something.
From now until the rest of eternity, every time a woman stands up for herself and is honest about what she will or will not accept, Michael is magically summoned to go "CHALDISH" at her in the mirror when she gets home.