How “Love Island” Surprised Me

By Diana Lichtenstein || Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of heatworld.com.

With TV shows, I always either get bored and stop short, or binge-watch. With Love Island, it was the latter. It takes a lot for a show to captivate me, especially one of the reality genre which Love Island is. I had heard of the show before but always brushed it off, thinking that it would not excite me. This is why, over the break, when my cousin recommended that we watch it, I initially rolled my eyes. She further insisted that I would love it, so I gave it a try. I made the right choice. Not to sound overdramatic but Love Island truly was amazing. 

The premise of the British television show is as follows: Male and female contestants or “islanders” are placed in a villa in beautiful Mallorca, under full surveillance, with zero contact to the outside world, allegedly. The goal is to couple up with a fellow islander, whether for romance, friendship, or desire to win a cash prize of £50,000. Re-coupling occurs pretty frequently and almost always leads to drama ensuing. At first, I chuckled viewing the first episode, realizing that the initial coupling is based solely on outward appearances. If the show were to have gone in this plotless direction for the duration of the season, I would have stopped watching. Luckily, it became more riveting, not long after this first scene. The group as a whole began bonding and forming friendships. It was comforting to live vicariously through this comradery. It was reminiscent of what the ideal collegiate experience would feel like: having a massive friend group of guys and girls all by your side. There was conflict but every moment was underscored with a genuine sense of love and support. When there were instances of arguments, it was not the same as generic reality TV plotlines that I was used to. 

It was refreshing to see that not all of the female drama was based on competition surrounding men, but other topics surrounding the nature of female friendship itself. For example, in the fifth season, one girl was mad at another because she wasn’t spending enough time with the girls. She was not mad that this girl had “stolen her man” so to speak. These moments of “fighting over boys” did happen from time to time, but it wasn’t constant. This is more the kind of thing one would frequently find on shows like The Bachelor (sorry to the fans: aka the majority of female students at F&M). This is one of the many aspects that I appreciated about the show. Another aspect that I loved was how the real emotions of men were placed on the forefront. When a contestant was dumped from the island many of the islanders would get very upset and cry heavily. In these tender moments, the men never told each other to stop crying or “man up” but instead said, “I love you, bro.” In all seriousness, it was refreshing to have a change from the usual toxic masculinity portrayed on shows like these. 

In summation, I would highly recommend this show, especially for those that would scoff at the idea of enduring the pain of reality television. It is different. The entire group becomes very empathetic and you begin to envision yourself in the villa with them. The female and male friendships are not surface level and I know this because of the countless number of scenes showing advice being given, group hugs, laughter, and tears. You will want to be a part of their dysfunctional unit as much as I did. As a plus, you will even be familiar with a lot of British slang by the end. Love Island is much more complex than just a “dating show.” 

Sophomore Diana Lichtenstein is a Staff Writer. Her email is dlichten@fandm.edu.

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