Love Island Isn’t A Guilty Pleasure, It’s The Only Place On TV Where Anyone Is Honest About Dating

Love Island is making sex sexy again. So leave it alone and enjoy watching it.

Love Island Isn't A Guilty Pleasure, It’s The Only Place On TV Where Anyone Is Honest About Dating

by Daisy Buchanan |
Published on

I don’t think I’m the only one who has spent a sizeable chunk of the summer of 2016 fantasising about running off to a desert island. We’re living in a state of ever increasing chaos, every day the news is more awful and everything is figuratively on fire - perhaps it’s only a matter of time before this happens literally too.

I know that I have a responsibility to be a good citizen, and to engage with the news and to do my best to be an active force for good, no matter how overwhelming I find it. But I’ve been sneaking off, and escaping for an hour or two every evening. My funds don’t stretch to a tropical seaside trip - especially not now that the exchange rate is so bad that my pounds are worth a couple of buttons and a bit of pocket fluff - but my telly has been taking me away to Love Island, and I’m completely addicted.

Even if you’re not watching it you’ve probably heard about it because it’s the sort of show that retired headmasters from the Home Counties write angry letters about - they’re usually addressed to the editor of the Telegraph, and begin ‘Why oh why oh why?’ Everyone is tanned, toned and tattooed. They’re having so much sex that they make the Geordie Shore cast look like a celibacy support group. It’s the closest thing to my dreamed about television show, a whole episode of Take Me Out hosted on the Isle of Fernando’s.

Much has been made of the sex - a few weeks ago, Miss GB winner Zara Holland was stripped of her title after she hooked up with Alex Bowen. There was a big debate about this - lots of people argued that regardless of what your job is, you’d probably get sacked from it if you had sex on a major television channel. (Although as far as I can tell, Alex has not been fired from his role as a scaffolder.) Love Island is endlessly discussed in a hand wringing, pearl clutching, ’won’t someone think of the children’ echo chamber of hysteria. But as far as I can tell, it’s just your standard group holiday with more cameras and fewer questionable coin operated air conditioning systems. It’s a live vacation WhatsApp group - or a whole summer’s worth of romantic mistakes crammed onto one frantic ITV2 month (it’s like a New York minute, only with more adds for gambling apps).

At this point in my life, I’m unlikely to live out the Love Island dream. I have a husband, and an obsession with the Waitrose chocolate ice cream that comes with blood orange sauce, which means I’m not in a position to seek out wild sexual activity with buff strangers, and even if I was, I’d want to do it wearing opaque tights and a nice jumper and not a cut out neon bikini. But it’s not that long since I was single - and I remember it well enough for the Islanders’ behaviour to make perfect sense to me. Even if I didn’t, I have plenty of single friends who swap stories about what they get up to. The only difference real difference between their lives and what happens on TV is that Love Island does not feature any close ups of drunk, disoriented cast members waking up at 5AM in a bus depot.

My favourite thing about Love Island is that both the boys and girls are totally up for it. What’s worse for kids - a programme in which sexually confident, consenting women have hot sex with hot guys, for fun, or an evangelical American claiming that if you’re a woman, having a lot of sex will make your vulva look like a ham baguette? Also, if you’re as obsessed as I am with Taylor Swift’s love life and the Hiddleswift conspiracy theories, Love Island is refreshingly honest. Obviously it’s edited and manipulated to some extent, but the emotions seem real.

If you want to watch people having sex, there are all sorts of websites and channels that cater to that - but not many where it’s possible to see proper passion and desire. I’ve seen porn so static that the stars didn’t even sweat into their hair extensions. I’ve seen Jason Derulo videos screened on daytime telly, where he looks at a woman’s naked, gyrating, spherical arse like it’s the big screen at Manchester Piccadilly and he’s just read that he has to get a rail replacement bus service. Love Island is making sex sexy again, in all its mad, messy glory. The clue is in the name - love is at its hot heart, and as we get closer to the finale, it’s beating at double speed.

My addiction to the show feels like a holiday romance, and we might be spending all our time in bed together, but I get to skip the sunburn and STIs. Love doesn’t always last forever, but to paraphrase the cliche, it has to be better to be crazy about someone for a week and then hook up with their best mate the next day, than it is to peer over the top of your newspaper complaining about kids today and the state of the nation, experiencing no emotions other than mild disgust. Love Island is for everyone who loves love - its pop, its poetry, its unpredictability. We’re all worried about the state of the nation - but right now, watching is the only thing that makes me believe we’re going to be OK.

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Follow Daisy on Twitter @NotRollerGirl

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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