With less than a week to go until the Love Island UK villa evicts its beautiful tenants, Alex Casey and Tara Ward look back at the season that was.
Alex: Did you get my text?
Tara: I GOT A TEXT
Alex: *Ovie in the background voice* MESSAGE! I can’t believe it has taken us this long to talk about Love Island UK. 50 episodes. 50 hours. 50 head turns.
Tara: And yet, it’s not enough. It’s never enough. There’ll be a big Love Island shaped hole in my heart next week and it’s enough to make me cover myself in Factor 50 and cry into my daybed. Also, if you could be half animal, half human, what would your bottom half be?
Alex: My human half would be Ovie (lovely face, many different hat options, long wingspan), my bottom half would be Ellie Belly the elephant (friend to all, mooshy backside, doesn’t have to do much but lie in bed). The perfect Love Island hybrid. I can’t believe I had never watched Love Island UK before this season. No wonder Kate Hawkesby is so mad – she’s never watched it!! Her life must be hell! Why didn’t you tell me a) what it was and b) how good it was???!?!?!??!?
Tara: I can only apologise. Where should I have begun? That it’s a show about a bunch of beautiful people shacked up in a luxury villa for 10 weeks? That the Islanders, all tanned and shiny and glorious, will climb into your heart with their weird ways and strange banter and you’ll never want them to leave? That in the end, the public votes for one couple to walk away with £50,000? Like Curtis’ flamenco dance in the Heart Rate challenge, you have to see it to believe it.
Tara: Did you see the news about the wild goats invading the Villa? I’m worried, for both the goats and the Islanders.
Alex: I did not see that news and now I am extremely worried that the goats are going to bowl over Curtis when he is carrying his 400 morning coffees to his fellow Islanders in lieu of giving his girlfriend a quick cuddle. Can we talk about the Curtis and Maura re-coupling? I’m still not over it. Justice for Ames. Justice for Amber. Justice for Francesca. Justice for me. Justice for all.
Tara: Justice for Curtis’ feet. Why does he wear socks to bed in the middle of a Spanish summer?
Alex: Omg great point. If I ever wear socks to bed I will, without fail, have a dream about getting murdered and wake up silently screaming while wrenching them off. Where’s my television show and my so-called sexiness?!?! Sure, he probably has to protect his dancer feet at any cost, but it does read as quite a sinister move. Maybe he has verucas. He does have a Veruca Salt accent. You be the judge of that compelling evidence.
Tara: It is what it is. Who’s your pick to pull off the win?
Alex: I mean, it’s hands down Molly-Mae and Sir Thomas Furious innit?
Tara: I reckon Curtis and Maura could be in with a chance, or even Anton and Belle. Maybe a pair of horned-up goats will make a late run for it.
Alex: The problem is, Anton disappeared for an entire episode and I didn’t even notice. Is that a betrayal of my Scottish roots? Do I have to hand over my novelty Nessie hat to the authorities? Almost certainly. As they say in Scotland: eh us wuh eh us.
Tara: In this situation, nay, any situation, I ask myself: what would Ovie do?
Alex: Literally just be the perfect man, dancing along to the tune of a boiling kettle. Ovie can do no wrong. Ovie is better than this show because Ovie is better than this world. What I love the most about Ovie is how he is easily the moral compass of the show, but doesn’t make a (literal) song and dance about it in the same way that Curtis tried to for the first few weeks (until he fucked everything up with Amy and lost his wise man badge). Also, Liam Gallagher loves him.
Tara: Bless Amy, she had me crying into my makeshift fire pit when she left. Fly free, sweet angel, may the next man you fall in love with always take his socks off before bed.
Alex: What do you think about the canning of Love Island NZ? Makes me want to cry more than Lucie when Molly Mae told her to stop cracking on with her boyfriend lol.
Tara: There’s only one Love Island to me, and that’s the UK version. It’s my first, my last, my everything. I’ve got to know it for five seasons and now I’m sitting in the spa, giving it the glad eye and asking it to be my half-boyfriend. My head can’t even be turned by Love Island Australia. I’m coupled up with it forever.
Alex: I started watching Love Island US and it was… a lot. Everyone was yelling and dancing even though there was no music and not even kettle music. What is it about the UK one that makes it so damn good do you reckon? There’s a lot of moral furore about it, and I’m not here to say that swapping couples and breaking hearts and objectifying is all g, but when you strip it all back there’s some weird kernel of humanity to it that makes it all so damn compelling to watch.
Tara: It’s definitely problematic. I think partly why it’s good is because the UK version refuses to take itself too seriously. Sure, it’s about the quest of finding love, but it’s also about having a laugh with your new BFFs while you get stuck in a vat of fake cement or breaking a watermelon with your butt. It’s a fantasy. It’s life in a bubble. It’s love in a g-string bathing suit.
Alex: Do you find yourself having that creepy guilty feminist feeling while watching the show? Sometimes it makes me feel extremely bad about my own face, hair, skin, lips, boobs, bum, legs, feet, eyebrows, eyes, eyelashes, stomach, fingernails, clothes, ears, elbows and upper arms. Tell you what I never second guess though: my banter. Which, as we know, is a sizzling hot commodity in the Love Island villa.
Tara: Ovie would not want us doubting ourselves. But I must say, as someone who thinks brushing her hair twice a week is akin to a complete makeover, I am gripped, gripped I tell you, as these gorgeous creatures get ready for the day with full blown makeup and hair for…just lying around in the sun in their togs.
Alex: Imagine putting on two sets of eyelashes just to sit on a beanbag! At the very least, it seems like the burden of looking like a literal celestial being every day is shared across everyone on the show, not just the women. Anton shaves his arse on camera, for god’s sake.
Tara: The arse shaving was a whole new world, let me tell you. Maybe that’s also part of the appeal, that we’re getting a glimpse into a whole other side of human behaviour. It’s like Big Brother used to be, and there’s been heaps of talk about what gaslighting and emotional manipulation looks like, thanks to some of the Love Island carry-on.
Alex: Having only ever consumed the advertising and outrage around it, what’s amazing me is how extremely dull Love Island actually is. It’s the ultimate Trojan Horse: lure them in with hot bodies and scandal and then reveal a bunch of people whispering in a swing seat about their feelings for 45 mins a day. I have truly spent more time with these people than I have any of my friends or family over the past few weeks. Jordan and Anna are my parents now.
Tara: Congratulations. Given we’ve only got a few days left on our island paradise, what are the highlights for you? What will you take away from your first holiday of love?
Alex: I will take home so many lovely souvenirs from my first trip to the villa. One taught me love (Ovie), one taught me patience (Amber), one taught me pain (Michael). One taught me that he can turn his head 560 degrees (Tommy). One taught me that Barcelona is actually in Rome (Jourdan). One taught me that being a potty-mouth who sticks up for their friends is basically the best thing a person can be (Maura).
I’ve also enjoyed incorporating “it is what it is” into my life. Although the Islanders mostly use it in response to having their heart pulverised on a reality television show, I find it a pretty soothing sentiment when getting overwhelmed about All the Things. As it is written in Psychology Today (adjusts monocle), the phrase is “an indication that people are increasingly resisting the temptation to force things into categories, to be comfortable with the unknown.”
Tara: You just earned yourself a PhD in Love Island, Dr Casey. I’m more at NCEA Love Island Level 1, having spent the past 10 weeks learning to do the basic jive, put my hair in a Mollie-Mae bun, and finding out there’s nothing more attractive than a confident man dancing to the beat of his own kettle. It’s been hilarious at best, bewildering at worst, but I’ve no regrets. I’ve even started wearing socks to bed.
Most of all, I’ve fallen in love with Maura. This season would have been one long arse shaving, tea drinking, Craig David montage without her in the villa. She’s smart, she’s funny, and she doesn’t stand for anyone’s shit. I think she could win the whole thing by herself. Her vagina is trobbing! Give her all the money!
Alex: I tink you’re right Tara. I tink you’re right.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.