Maybe twice a year is too many times to visit the villa, writes Alex Casey.
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Lana is a simple girl with simple needs. “I like the simple things in life,” she tells her crush Ron as they laze about the Love Island villa. “I like chilling… movies… Harry Potter.” Ron throws his head back in ecstasy. “Yes. Harry Potter – I’m so glad you said it.” I glance out the window and see the sun shining, before turning the volume up to drown out the cicadas. “I am such a big Potter fan,” continues Ron, visibly stunned by the fact that two separate people could have an affinity with the biggest selling book series of all time.
For the first time since the pandemic, Love Island UK has returned to airing two times a year and fans, including public advocates such as me, are beginning to wonder if we’ve got the ick. For those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s jarring to suddenly see our dreary lockdown winter comfort show drop just as our own summer is heating up. “The only thing that gives me excitement in winter is Love Island,” said one local fan who isn’t too keen on the latest season. “I’m too busy chasing the sun right now.”
It’s not just us folks in the sunny Southern Hemisphere either. The 2023 season debut of Love Island debuted to an audience in the UK of just 1.2 million, which is nearly half the audience of last year’s premiere and much closer to the season three audience numbers way back in the pre-pandemic and pre Molly-Mae era of 2015. ITV’s campy murder-mystery deception series The Traitors appears to be the new bombshell in the reality television villa, raking in over 3.2 million viewers for the dramatic finale.
For a sense check, I decided to watch a few episodes of the latest season with my own dear mother who happened to be visiting (I have previously turned in the past for similar moral guidance about nudey shows and weird beauty books). “Why are they being so rude?” was her first question, followed by “do they always have to wear that much makeup?” and then finally “what are they saying?” After a while, she went quiet and glazed over – the islanders had gathered around the fire pit for an elimination – before breathlessly uttering “I get it now.”
Alas, just as quickly as she fell for Love Island, she fell out again. “Oh for god’s sake” was spat out multiple times in the next episode, specifically when two of the “girls” started fighting over a “boy” (these people are well into their twenties), and then we abandoned the show entirely to play Scrabble. My other friends who are still watching it are hanging on by a thread, as am I. Maybe it’s the slow death march of reality romance, maybe it’s because we are sick of the batty social media pressures or the million other reasons the show is actually very terrible.
Or maybe, just maybe, we all are subconsciously saving our energy to watch The Spinoff’s own Jane Yee on Treasure Island: Fans v Faves… Either way, not gonna lie, at the end of the day, heads have turned and it is what it is.
You can watch Love Island UK season nine here on Neon.