Advertisement
VICE Does 'Love Island'

Friendship Is the Real Winner of 'Love Island' 2019

Michael... is not.

by Lauren O'Neill
04 July 2019, 12:58pm

Screenshots via ITV

History is happening all the time. Much of it whooshes past us as we get on with the rigmarole of being people, but sometimes history crystallises: we become aware that what we are existing through is history. Events like the Brexit referendum, Trump getting elected, Stormzy doing Glastonbury, that time Tiffany Pollard thought David Gest had medically died in the Celebrity Big Brother house. Seismic incidents that remind us we are living through a time that others will look back on long after we're gone.

And so we come to the episode of Love Island that aired on Wednesday the 3rd of July.

*

Every year on Love Island, the producers reveal Casa Amor, a second villa where half the Islanders are sent for a few days. Both sets of separated islanders are confronted with brand new slick-bodied romantic prospects, and existing relationships are tested.

Casa Amor is always a source of great drama: last year it rocked the foundations of Jack and Dani, the couple who’d been that season's winners-elect since the disarmingly sweet words "I think Dani's lovely" tumbled out of Jack Fincham's mouth in the very first episode, his short-sleeved over-shirt billowing in the Mallorcan breeze. But in 2019, Casa Amor wrought carnage, and Wednesday's episode depicted the aftermath.

In the same way I imagine that the clean-up of war is much worse than the battles themselves – all that blood, all that horror, for a few minutes of adrenaline – it was an hour of emotional eczema, raw and pink and difficult to divert your attention from. It will be memorable for its brutality; we should really build a monument to it in Trafalgar Square, as a warning to ourselves never to let anything like it happen ever again.

As Amy sobbed that without Curtis (who admitted he'd rather have re-coupled with new girl Jourdan, who kindly but roundly rejected him) and the future she'd imagined for them she had "nothing", Amber desperately tried to hide her tears of hurt from Michael. He’d decided to dump her, despite their viewers'-favourite relationship and seemingly genuine affection for one another. Love Island is not known for its naturalism – this is a show where people are, sometimes, forced to bond with their love interests by regurgitating spaghetti into their mouths – which is what made the outpouring of real emotion, playing out against the artificiality of a TV set, so jarring.

Real emotion only breeds more of the same – and that was the saving grace of Wednesday’s episode. The only factor that made watching it feel less like a low-level punishment in The Bad Place were the genuine deeds of friendship shown by the women in the villa, actually enacting the loyalty that Georgia Steel trilled so incessantly about last year.

When Amber had exhausted the (tiny) limits of Michael's reasonableness – surprising, in fact, that the nation didn’t experience a minor earthquake as millions balked at his request for her to "lower your voice" as she spoke perfectly calmly – Anna took her place. Accepting the burden like Sam carrying the ring for Frodo (the universal benchmark for all friendship), Anna scolded Michael about his behaviour in the way that only a woman seeing a man in loafers trying to take her girl for a mug can: "You're a little boy after the way you treated Amber."

Love Island girls VICE 2019

And while Anna nobly eviscerated Michael on Amber’s behalf (notably backed by her new man Ovie), on the other side of the garden were Lucie, Molly-Mae and Maura, draped around the wronged Amy like a Raphael painting. Over the course of the episode, Amy – who has never had a boyfriend before – experienced feelings painfully familiar to anyone who ever spent sixth form dating a shithouse called Joe who'd pick other girls up in his Ford Fiesta.

Her's was an almost adolescent type of loss. She realised for the first time that the person of her imagining – and, to a degree, of his own invention – did not match the real man in front of her. She told her friends that she loved him, and in that moment all the counsel she needed came from Maura, who barked at her like an aggressive life-coach.

"But does he love you?" asked Lucie. "Why are you asking her that?" Maura snarled. "He fucking doesn't. It's harsh, babe, but I’m fucking being serious. He doesn’t love you." It was the tough love Amy needed, from the real life group-chat.

Over the course of Love Island season five, women have buoyed each other where it counts. While pop feminist discussions of "girl code" and being a "girls' girl" have sometimes felt tiresome in smaller disputes – remember the shine Maura took to Tommy so long ago? – the girls of the villa have consistently stood up for each other on more significant issues (take Amber explaining to Tom why Maura was upset that he'd wanted to find out if she was "all mouth" the other week).

I'm not about to claim any of this as a feminist victory – it’s happening on Love Island, after all – but it’s certainly good to see friends providing the moral consequences to scenarios the show itself rarely intervenes with, especially so frequently and righteously.

Now, all that needs to happen is for all of the men to be removed and the show to be rebranded as Friend Island, where the women are left alone to lie down and do elaborate plaits in each other's hair, before being awarded an equal split of the prize money at the end of the month. That is the history I want to live through.

@hiyalauren