Love Island will feel like a chore, but I’ll still tune in

Emma Kelly

You can’t really plan your year around the seasons – not in Ireland, anyway –but you can set your watch by a TV schedule. You know it’s time to start getting festive when a channel unironically airs Love Actually. Bake Off is back? Time to get autumnal. And summer? I think you mean Love Island season, baby.

In just over a week’s time, the dating show is back to invade all of our social lives for another eight weeks or so. It has become as intertwined with summer as barbecuing in the rain and the smell of Ambre Solaire.

Since 2015 (bar the summer of 2020, and even then there was a winter series), we’ve sacrificed summer pub nights for telly at 9pm and replaced all conversations with WhatsApp group chats about people being mugged off and the villain of the series.

Love Island isn’t just a TV show, it’s a lifestyle, and one I subscribe to. So why is it that this year I’m not as buzzed as usual?

Having previously written about showbiz and TV as my day job, Love Island was all-consuming. Missing one episode meant my knowledge was derailed. This is the first series when my livelihood won’t depend on knowing what grafting means, so I can properly enjoy it. But even I veered into Love Island fatigue about a year ago.

As we watched Millie Court and Liam Reardon fall in love despite Casa Amor scandal and terrible piano playing, it was glaringly obvious this wasn’t the show we all watched in our millions two years earlier as Maura Higgins became a national treasure.

After season three, the villa became a fast pass to a fast fashion brand collab, or at least a discount code, and invites to PR bashes for at least a few months, and everyone knew it.

People started coming in forcing catchphrases (see Lucie Donlan and the ill-fated “bev”), making tactical pairings and being a little too aware of the career they would have post villa.

While you could maybe believe some earlier daters were actually seeking love (and a few weeks in Majorca), Love Island has become a victim of its own success, becoming too popular to foster any sense of authenticity.

Then, of course, there’s the controversy. Since the deaths of host Caroline Flack and contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis by suicide, aftercare has been stepped up by ITV, but we are very aware of when things are veering from drama into abuse in terms of arguments and treatment in couples.

Last series, fan favourite Faye Winter immediately slipped down the rankings following an extremely uncomfortable row with Teddy Soares (the couple are still together).

Women’s Aid has put out statements following incidents of gaslighting, and when castmates cry it feels less like entertainment and more like exploitation. But as a viewer, it just feels like the magic has left the villa. We know what’s going to happen and the type of person who will be cast.

While a show six nights a week for the summer seemed exciting, it now feels a bit like a chore. The glory days have sailed by. It’s not the show it was.

In saying all that, I know full well I’ll be sucked in. One thing I can’t stand is fomo, and if I can’t engage in chats about mugginess, underboob trends and Casa Amor, what will I do with my summer? Socialise? I’m in a toxic relationship with Love Island, and good or bad, it will always have a hold on me.

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