Zara McDermott: “If I Was Joe, I’d Have Been Upset Last Week, Too”

The former Love Islander on what we don't see on screen – and how emotions really do run that high

Zara McDermott

by Grazia |

It’s the little things I’ve noticed that have surprised me most being a viewer of this year’s Love Island, rather than a contestant. Like, for example, the fact that this year’s group are being allowed to shower in the mornings (we could only use the shower each evening), and how big the villa looks on screen (it’s actually pretty small). Another thing: where are the tables and chairs? Where do the Islanders eat? Baffling.

However there are, of course, much more pressing topics to discuss as we begin Week Two in the villa tonight. Amy and Curtis (my favourite couple so far), for one, and Tommy Fury’s inability to make a simple cuppa. But the thing that really stood out for me was how heightened emotions can be inside the villa – and how little that really comes across on screen.

Of course, I’m referring to the Joe-Lucie-Tommy-Molly-Mae love tryst, and how surprised I’ve been to see public perception change so wildly during the show.

A day truly feels like a month in the villa. It’s very abnormal and artificial to spend 24 hours a day with a group of people you don’t know. Emotions are SO heightened, you fall in love quickly. However also, there are a lot of conversations that aren’t shown, as it’s physically impossible to show everything. The ‘juiciest bits’ are obviously the key parts shown. However, what if we look at this in a different way?

Joe, upon being initially coupled-up with Lucie, seemed to really like her. And you can see why she’s a hit with the boys – we know, because she seems to get a lot of airtime, that she’s coming across as a sweet, innocent, girl-next-door type – and Joe also came across very well initially. When Tommy “turned her head”, and Lucie became increasingly upset over her own indecisiveness as she struggled to choose her better suitor, Joe lost his cool. And when he became upset, public perception changed immediately. Twitter went into uproar. Every second I refreshed Twitter to see another dozen tweets about joe being ‘manipulative’, ‘spiteful’, that there are ‘red flags’.

But what if Lucie had spent the past 72 hours telling Joe she wanted to be with him through the whole journey, so he put all his focus on her, and then suddenly her head got turned by someone else? Having been in the villa myself and then being able to re-watch the episodes on the outside after I left has allowed me to see a completely different version of the conversations that occur in there – and there is much that is lost in translation.

The key, for me, is in the edit. If an action or conversation is taken out of context, the perception of an individual can change in a split second, and this is influenced also by the impulsive and ‘follow the leader’ nature of social media. Public opinions quickly become unison on social media, and the country can be pulled together over particular issues and conflict within the show which, to me, is incredible – yet frightening.

The nature of the show is to heighten emotions, people fall in and out of love quickly, and we compare a day to a week, even a month. Being very honest, having been in the villa, I’d have been upset if I was Joe.

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