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'Love Island Changed My Life - And I’ll Always Defend It To Its Critics'

© Ed Miles

'The team on Love Island and my fellow islanders boosted my confidence, and pushed me to believe in my own self-worth...'

Last week, I sat and watched the first episode of the new Love Island series. I wasn’t the only one – the episode broke ITV2 records with around three million viewers. I cannot deny I was apprehensive to watch it, some of my most difficult memories from last year revolve around the early days of the show when I felt like a real fish out of water and was struggling to work out where I fit in. I was concerned that watching the first show was going to feel like starting the whole journey again, albeit vicariously.

I needn’t have worried - I was almost instantly swept up in getting to know the Love Islanders from this year. This is, as always, a credit to the Love Island team who create an environment where you can express yourself, and then artfully edit it so that the audience can get to know the personalities of the those on the show.

Perhaps this is why Love Island makes for such compelling viewing. Just the right amount of light-hearted fun, making it a pleasure to watch after a tough day at work, but at the same time showing real people experiencing real feelings - the heartbreak, the euphoria and everything in between.

And one of the things I love about Love Island now – as a viewer – is how much it opens up, rather than stifles debate and conversation. When Love Island hit (in fact, as soon as the new season was announced) you immediately saw thousands of people engaging in avid debate. It’s a commentary on one of the most important aspects of human life – relationships – and yet perhaps because it is so seemingly innocuous people feel able to freely voice their opinions on it (and to produce some hilarious memes).

Yes, Love Island is fun, flirty and at times seemingly frivolous – but that’s the beauty of it. I know there will always be debate around what some have described as ‘scantily-clad twenty-somethings’ trying to find love in a luxurious, sun-drenched villa but the truth of the matter is this. In a world where we so rarely get to see past the picture-perfect Instagram image, suddenly you are getting a real insight into the people behind them. And I truly believe it is these characters we fall in love with, or - on occasions - love to hate.

In fact, the show in itself is almost a paradox. The initial coupling and attractiveness of the cast suggests a focus purely on the aesthetic, but the truth is no relationship based solely on mutual attraction is going to last in an environment that intense. At its heart, Love Island is so much more than beautiful young people flirting with each other – it’s about real human connection. And really, you don’t need me to tell you that – why else would you be glued to the sofa every night at 9pm, engaged in furious Whatsapp chats about whether someone has or hasn’t been ‘mugged off’.

Perhaps its sounds like I am taking it unnecessarily seriously, but the thing is for me it’s personal, because Love Island changed my life. In the last few days I have been extremely aware of how immensely lucky I was to meet someone on the show who I’m still with now. The happy relationship that has followed is not just a product of good fortune - the team on Love Island and my fellow islanders boosted my confidence, and pushed me to believe in my own self-worth. Life is simpler when you don’t always give yourself a hard time, when that voice in your head telling you you’re not good enough finally is drowned out by those around you, and relationships are too.

So, some people will criticise the show. Some people will love it and some will hate it. Some will hate it without even watching it. The fact that people have opinions is GREAT. The fact that people will change their opinions over the course of the series is GREAT. Because if Love Island is anything, it’s real; it’s certainly worth talking about, and this unashamed Love Island fan is really looking forward to the rest of this series

Check out the Love Island memes we can't stop sharing...