Tuesday 23 July 2024

Love Island revisited – and I still don’t get the hype

Last year I wrote a piece entitled “Understanding the Love Island Malta phenomenon”.

12 months later, and after another edition has aired, I am still flummoxed by the wave of excitement, anticipation and online engagement which grips people after every episode. This time, however, I resolved to watch at least one episode in order to try and better comprehend what makes this show so irresistible to so many.

So I tuned in to the final on Sunday and I persevered and stuck it out….for exactly five minutes.

My senses were immediately assaulted and overwhelmed by the fake lips, the talon-like nails, the humongous tattoos and the hair extensions. When some of the girls started jumping on the beds with joy because they were served croissants and Prosecco for breakfast, I could feel my grey cells dying.

So OK, I have resigned myself to the fact that despite the fact that ‘All Malta is watching’, I am one of those people who just don’t get the hype about thrusting complete strangers into a villa and expecting them to couple up and “fall in love”. Especially while the producers milk every vulnerable moment, wanting them to interact under the glare of cameras and the scrutiny of the whole nation while wearing skimpy bikinis and swim suits. That’s fine, I don’t mind being the odd one out; to each his own and all that. After all, there are loads of TV shows that I love which other people turn off immediately because they simply cannot get into them.

And let’s face it, TV is simply there for entertainment and escapism, enabling us to switch off and step away from the humdrum of our own lives and give us something to talk about the next day with colleagues. With so much which is streamed on different platforms, and with people watching TV on demand, something like Love Island is one of the few “water cooler” shows, where everyone is watching it unfold live at the same time, so you can talk about it the next day at the office. For many people, it became inexplicably addictive and I was not surprised to learn that this year’s viewing figures broke last year’s records, making it the most watched programme, ever.

Like last year, my awareness of Love Island has been on the periphery and the fringes of it, from the comments which were filling my newsfeed every morning to the often very witty memes. If you ask me, the hilarious parodies were the best thing to come out of the show. We desperately need more satire and stand up comedy in this country which takes itself much too seriously – now that is something I would watch. Let’s not kid ourselves – while there were many who seemed truly invested in these couples, a segment of the audience was watching simply to take the piss.

To end on a more positive note, from what I could gather the winning couple, Clinton and Tamika received so many votes because they were the most genuine and respectful towards each other. I also noticed that Tamika was probably one of the most natural-looking girls in the show. That was the one saving grace and it gives me a bit of hope that despite what has been dubbed the Love Island effect, which is leading young women to undergo cosmetic enhancements, not everyone is that impressed by that which is phoney and superficial.

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