With just one more episode to go until the end of an explosive season of Love Island UK, Alex Casey has already crowned her winner.
I’m always worried about being too thirsty. Not in the sexy, online way either, more like the desperately parched man in a terrifying Paul Jennings story I read as a kid. Lost in the desert, he finds himself deliriously suckling water from the finger of a creepy clear jelly creature called the Wobby Gurgle. Ever since then, you won’t catch me without a hearty tankard of water on my person, just in case I end up lost and thirsty in one of Auckland’s many famous deserts.
Watching Love Island UK for the very first time this season, I’ve been thinking about the Wobby Gurgle a lot. Because, when the glossy gals and guys strutted into the villa for the first time, it wasn’t their bronzed bodies or symmetrical faces that caught my eye – it was their drink bottles. The crystal clear, no-nonsense cylinders were each inscribed with their names in hot pink, capped with a crisp white lid and a beckoning, translucent, Wobby Gurgle-style sipper.
It was genius. Imprisoned in fluoro bean bags under the blazing Majorca sun for weeks, of course the Love Island production team would need to make a concerted effort to keep the sexy singles hydrated on their quest for love. And what better way to do that than with personalised drink bottles, a great way of getting the audience to learn everyone’s names, and an even better way of getting idiots like me to covet extremely normal items just because they are on the television.
Well islanders, gather round the fire pit, because I got one.
Right as Love Island had made it to screens in New Zealand, one of the iconic bottles turned up on my actual desk with my actual name on it from actual Three. My head was turned, as Tommy would say, 560 degrees. I immediately retired my mint green Kathmandu number to be a ‘home’ bottle, a decision I did not make lightly. Just days before, Bachelor superstar Art Green had been in the office and complimented me on it, even asking if he could look at the the metal insulation inside.
Bar revealing your pillows without their pillowcases on, I’m pretty sure that showing someone the inside of your drink bottle is probably the most vulnerable thing a person can do. I took the lid off and held my breath, praying there would be no floaties or ghosties, as he peered inside inquisitively. After a moment’s pause, he nodded, satisfied. I thought that was going to be the best reality-TV-drink-bottle-related moment of my entire life. I was wrong.
I want to believe the Love Island drink bottle is the best drink bottle in the world. It is tall and strong like Ovie, silky smooth like Anton’s arse. The water flows as steadfast and assured as Maura, its bonus diffuser completely unexpected as a Craig David cameo. I may never have the Kardashian curves of Anna, the perfect high bun of Molly Mae, but I do drink water from the same bottle as all of them, which means we are basically the same and basically friends.
The Love Island bottle has been by my side over the past few months, just as it was there for our mates in the villa. When Jordan got too hot one afternoon by the pool, he tipped his bottle upside down and flicked his pecs seductively with water. When Amber stormed through the villa because of something shitty Michael said, she swung it dramatically at her side like a sledgehammer. When Lucie rebelliously decided to tip instead of sip, she basically set the entire internet on fire.
And when Chris lay on the kitchen bench, prostrate with grief that India had chosen Ovie over him, his bottle quietly watched over him.
But things weren’t always peachy on this journey to finding love on national television. Over time, the rot set in. After Jordan revealed to India that he had feelings for her, while his actual girlfriend Anna sat oblivious across the lawn, I noticed my sipper had become quietly mouldy on the inside. You’d think it’d be hard to clean such a delicate little tube, but I found my metal straw cleaner worked a treat. “MR FUCKING BOYFRIEND” Anna screamed on the TV. “MR FAKE DICKHEAD.”
Although these moments were great to watch and sip along to, they increasingly left me sympathetic to the concerns over the show’s early runtime here in New Zealand. The couple swapping, back stabbing and initially shallow premise on which the Love Island relationships are built is obviously far from any healthy reality. To blob out in front of the overblown drama as a corn husk doll of an adult is one thing, to devour it as an impressionable kid is another.
However, if there are two things you can’t fault Love Island contestants on, it’s their ability to hydrate and their ability to bring people together. Love Island UK has been a saving grace at social functions when I’ve had no good banter (nb: my banter is “have you caught up on Love Island yet?” and they say “no” and then I say nothing). Recently it came in particularly handy when entertaining a cool teen staying with us from England, who was introduced to me as a Love Island fan.
This was the moment I had been waiting for. Beaming like a new mum, I pulled the bottle out of my bag to show him.
“That’s a bit much, innit?” he said.