It’s official, Love Island 2019 is over and yet again we’re met with that bittersweet feeling of both emptiness and long-awaited freedom. But one thing was different about this year’s finale, and that’s the winners journey. Finally, after season upon season of the most longstanding and stable couple winning Love Island we were gifted the different, much more relatable climax with Amber Gill and Greg O’Shea’s fresh new love story.
There's no doubt that a huge part of the couple's appeal is Amber, a woman once painted as ‘hard work’(eye roll) who won viewers hearts when she chose to put herself first after a toxic relationship. Her authenticity, loyalty and enduring strength through an emotionally tumultuous Love Island journey put her as favourite to win days before the finale. And yet, so many of us were (happily) surprised when she and Greg actually took the top spot.
Because, if there’s one thing we know about Love Island it’s that the couple who have been together the longest typically always wins. This year, that was Tommy Fury and Molly-Mae Hague, and their picture-perfect journey – for the most part – had many convinced they would steal the top prize. But actually, the public finally voted for someone whose journey was far from perfect.
We can't ignore the sexist backlash towards Molly-Mae, and her reputation as ‘fake’ that caused ‘Money-Mae’ to become a trending hashtag during last night’s episode. There’s no doubt the public disdain for her supposed faux interest in Tommy – which, for the record, we don’t get – impacted their second placing. But, there’s a lot more to be said for what Amber’s journey tells us about our appetites as viewers.
Amber endured one of the most toxic relationships we’ve seen on the show, and in what must be one of the first displays of healthy responses to emotionally abusive behaviour on Love Island, she rid herself of that negativity when she chose to recouple, over returning to a man she clearly had a ton of feelings for, but knew wasn’t good for her. It was an unforgettable moment in the series, and one of the most celebrated of all-time on the show. Because, not only did she give Michael Griffith’s his long-awaited comeuppance, she inspired women everywhere not to stand for such behaviour.
It’s a hard-sell to beat a moment like that, even for the seemingly perfect Molly-Mae and Tommy love story. And ultimately, Amber and Greg’s happiness after that moment proved that the grass actually is greener when you choose to end a toxic relationship. But it was all of that heartbreak and grittiness that showed actually, in the end, the public do just want to support someone who has been through a difficult time and come out the other side.
Molly-Mae and Tommy were considered early winners of the show
In a world where our lives are so often seen through faux-perfect filters, it says a lot about what we yearn for, and who we want to see thrive. Unapologetic authenticity and a refusal to shy away from the bad stuff in life clearly resonate with the public, perhaps because we’re all craving more of those genuine true-to-life narratives. And conversely, while Molly Mae would have to be an award-winning actor to have faked the majority of her and Tommy’s relationship, the public have fixated on the idea that she was faking it, and have been quick to hold onto this narrative and question her motives throughout the show.
Are we just absolutely sick and tired of any behaviour that we see on-screen that could be remotely disingenuous? In a world of highlight reel social media and photoshopped pictures popping up on our phones every second, it’s quite likely. Amber and Greg winning seems to have provided evidence of this, and ultimately, we’re very happy about that.