Does the sun feel brighter to you? Does it feel like the world has suddenly shifted into HD? Does it feel like, maybe, things could be good again?
After a year and a half of chaos purgatory, Love Island has returned, and so, blinking into the sun, we step towards its warm embrace.
It was an embrace filled with nostalgia, reminding us of everything we have missed during our stint in Government-mandated isolation. As our babe gang of Kaz, Faye, Sharon, Shannon and Liberty poured prosecco for one another, it felt like an ode to the long lost phenomenon of women’s club toilets. That most holy of places, where a girl you’ve never met before will compliment your outfit at 4am only to evacuate the scene as soon as they hear the opening notes of Azealia Banks’ “212”.
So what of this year’s contestants, who make up a four-nation army of tanning lotion and core strength? A clear front runner in the race to the nation’s heart is Brad, a man who looks like a Michelangelo wet dream in bronze. Currently single after leaving an eight-and-a-half-year relationship with his childhood sweetheart, he now lives in a house with his nan and a small dog. Note, the small dog. Not a big dog, a small one. I can’t put a finger on why, but somehow, this matters. It tells me that this is a man who does not feel emasculated by the presence of a petite lapdog, whose sense of self is not made whole by the machismo of, for example, a German Shepherd. It says, “I don’t care what you think about my nan’s Chihuahua,” and that is sexy. Unfortunately for our sweet, himbo prince, he simply cannot form words.
Leading on the side of the ladies is, quite frankly, all of them. It was a display of female perseverance as they each reeled off their turn ons and offs, Liberty immediately setting the bar high by announcing that there are simply “no fit men in Devon”. Sharon, meanwhile, decided to declare war on every man who has ever stepped foot in Oceana, stating that she will not tolerate white jeans and an ego. This is a woman who has seen things and wears her battle scars with pride.
In normal times, it is canon that the first episode of Love Island is a damp squib, with contestants usually so nervous, they can only communicate through rehearsed one liners and overly exaggerated nonchalance. Yet the opening 20 minutes included Jake bravely opening up about his foot fetish, Faye begging for someone to rip her a new [redacted] and Kaz demanding to be dominated. Could it be that Love Island 2021 will mark the year when kink discourse turned mainstream?
But what is that, just over the horizon, stepping into view like a blonde titan? Just when we thought we could relax, the villa has thrown us the first Bombshell. Following in the footsteps of Megan Barton Hanson, Jess Shears and Molly Mae, the late arrival is positioned as an Apex Predator: a base temptress whose sole goal is to lure away one of the Island’s hunks from their supposed match. If it sounds based in 19th-century misogyny, that’s probably because it is! But we will not go into the history of the fallen woman in film, TV and literary theory.
Instead, we will revel in it. As others have said before, this is Love Island, not Friendship Island, and judging by the series opener, it seems like none of the couples are fated to last. But if there is one thing that is guaranteed to healthily turbo-charge any relationship, it is the impending threat of another woman. Will Chloe stir things up, and if so, who out of our gaggle of hotties will fall prey?