Wait, Why Has Love Island Turned Into Ex On The Beach?

A very familiar face rocked up to the villa last night.

Gemma Owen ex boyfriend Love Island Jax

by Lydia Spencer-Elliott |

On paper, the Love Island formula is quite simple: ten hot, single people enter a gorgeous villa, couple up and endure a series of challenges to see if they’ve got a connection strong enough to withstand their heads being turned by a flawless bombshell or Casa Amor late entry.

But things took a turn for the unexpected on day seven of this year’s series. ‘Oh my god. No, no, no, no, no, no, he's my... that's my ex-boyfriend!' floundered Gemma Owen of the latest arrival as she watched her previous partner, Jacques O'Neill settle in for a romantic breakfast with Paige Turley.

The brunette, tanned, muscly Castleford Tigers rugby player, who contestants repeatedly dubbed as ‘fit’, ‘hot’ and ‘really fit’ throughout the hour-long episode, effortlessly garnered attention. According to Jax, he and Gemma split up because he was too focused on his sport career: ‘I think it needs to be the right person at the right time,’ he said.

But can we just re-establish what reality show we’re watching again? This concept of shipping an ex over to a holiday destination is eerily familiar. While Love Island has previously been about finding new love (think Molly-Mae Hague and Tommy Fury) now the producers seem to be encouraging the same degree of backsliding into a former flame’s arms that we’ve already seen on Ex On The Beach.

Of course, thanks to the interwoven world of reality TV, there’s been cast crossover before and former Love Islanders Megan Barton-Hanson, Kaz Crossley and Mike Boateng are all set to star in the upcoming series of Ex On The Beach. Yet, this is the first time we’ve seen the open wounds of an old relationship poked and prodded on Love Island.

There’s even a rumour that a second of Gemma’s exes, footballer Cameron Green, is ‘waiting on the sidelines’ to join the show: ‘After Gemma’s ex coming in, her horse is gonna be waiting by the fire pit,’ wrote one exhausted viewer on Twitter. ‘Can we put someone else as the main character please?’ questioned another.

Someone the internet is hoping will slip into the protagonist’s shoes is Paige, who so far has had no real storyline or serious romantic interest of her own: ‘If Gemma tries to stop Paige cracking on with Jax I will throw hands’ claimed one viewer.

After Paige returned to the dressing room to fill the girls in on her date with the new boy, Gemma was quick to alert her: ‘that’s my ex-boyfriend’, to which Paige appeared miraculously unphased, calmly asking for the details of whether the relationship ended on good terms and how long they’d been together.

But regardless of how long the relationship lasted (eight months), the gloves – in theory - should really be off in this arena. So far, the competition has lasted a week—that’s not enough time to build loyalty to a girl you’ve only just met. In the words of Ekin-Su, nobody is there to ‘gain seasonal girlfriends’.

Unlike on the outside world where coupling up with your housemate’s ex is a betrayal of epic proportions, in the Love Island villa couples are on rotation every time a contestant yells: ‘I’ve got a text.’ You simply cannot take it personally and Paige kept her feelings to a heroic minimum when Luca picked Gemma most recently.

Yet, can you image at 19-years-old trying to fall asleep each night as your most recent ex spoons another girl metres from you on the other side of the bedroom? These producers are brewing up a unique flavour of hell this season—a scenario we’re not sure Gemma deserves despite her vilification so far.

With Ex On The Beach, you know what you’re getting yourself in for—the clue is very much in the name. But if you signed up for eight weeks of sun, singles, and a rotation of new potential matches on Love Island, you’d feel undeniably short-changed if your ex-boyfriend walked through the door. Please, let's pray any other ghosts of romance past have forgotten to renew their passports.

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