Stir Crazy on the Island

It took me four seasons before I succumbed to the unhealthy addiction of watching Love Island.

I managed to stay away for so long but was at a friends for dinner at the beginning of July and she MADE me watch it. She literally forced me so I had to. I knew that my addictive personality wouldn’t be able to resist it. Regardless of the fact that the show was already six weeks in it just took one viewing and I was hooked. Slightly disgusted with myself I fell in deep and started to look forward to it’s nightly ritual.

I became obsessed and knew I needed to write something about this programme that, for it’s launch episode, earned over 3 million viewers and gave ITV2 it’s highest rating since records started. I also knew there was a lot of great journalism already out there ~  Romesh Ranganathan looked at the elite judging of the show in the Guardian, Tanya Gold’s Stylist article explored the lack of body diversity and Adam Collard’s behaviour was highlighted by Women’s Aid, a domestic abuse charity. I read those articles with great interest but also had a few thoughts of my own.

Firstly I wondered when was it that we all decided to move onto the Trivial Pursuit style cheese wedge of bikini bottoms? It appears I missed that memo. Last time I looked we were all still wearing the huge 50’s style pants. When did that wonderfully comfortable fashion phase fade? The first few times I watched Love Island I couldn’t concentrate on anything that was being said as my eyes were glued to all the nut cracking bronzed cheeks on display before me. Not thinking it could possibly translate to the ‘average woman’ out in the real world I came home from six weeks in America, headed down to Brockwell Lido and saw that I was very wrong. Ass cheek central. Surely this can’t be comfortable? It’s essentially a permanent wedgie. A bunched up piece of material riding up your crack all day. Who wants that? Also, for anyone with a behind larger than a ten pence piece this is an incredibly impractical piece of clothing for many reasons such as sitting, bending, chaffing, support cuppage and attempting to have any type of conversation with another human being due to your ass spilling out.While I realised my butt musings wouldn’t fill a whole post I decided to also raise the question of what the hell do they do all day?

As far as we are shown all that seems to happen is contestants lie in the sun and talk about themselves. Is that all that fills up their time? Aren’t they bored? Now I love a good break from the real world as well as a bit of time spent summer sun baking but I also know that with my spare time I need some kind of creative stimulation. I need to read, write, listen to music, watch a movie, go for a walk. I have to do these things for my mental health and I believe that for most people with a functioning brain it’s the same. Am I wrong? Can people really just talk about themselves, their feelings and what they’re going to wear for two whole months? They have no books in there, no music and no internet. How on earth are they not going stir crazy?

Well perhaps they are. Zara Holland, who went into the villa in 2016, says she is a changed person after her time on the Island and unfortunately not for the better. She likened it to ‘a posh prison’ and according to the former Miss Great Britain, who lost her title after having sex with fellow contestant Alex Bowen, now sees a psychiatrist, a psychologist and is on anti depressants. Originally talking to the BBC she said there was a psychiatrist on hand that you could speak to in the villa but it was never offered and had to be asked for. How are you supposed to know when you need to talk to a psychiatrist? Surely the boredom of always analysing your actions is going affect you negatively but are you aware of that at 22 years old? ITV replied by saying ‘All Islanders are offered psychological support before, during and after their time in the villa. We take our duty of care very seriously and this is always our top priority’

By making it ‘their top priority’ and knowing what the damaging effects of putting a group of people into isolation can be surely these navel gazing, poolside millennials would have benefitted from taking in some reading matter, an Ipod or better still a bag of bananagrams? Perhaps, instead of playing truth or dare what if they were offered a daily newspaper and asked to discuss? What better way to exercise your brain matter and find out whether you’re compatible with someone than knowing their views on current affairs? Would Eyal have picked Hayley for a second time if he’d known she thought Brexit was something to do with trees? Oh Hayley. So beautiful and yet so…so…..nope, that’s all I’ve got.

The trouble with allowing contestants on a structured reality TV show to look after their mental health through reading and playing bananagrams though is that it doesn’t produce entertaining viewing. We all know its more interesting to look into the petri dish when shits going crazy in there. And that’s what the villa is. A petri dish experiment to see how far you can push a group of 20 somethings with eight weeks worth of doing nothing but discussing themselves and their fellow contestants relationships. We won’t see the real results of the petri dish experiment for quite sometime. The attention circus that follows two months of idle isolation from the real world can last longer for some but will inevitably come to an end quite quickly for most. After that they’re going to have to try and return to a regular lifestyle of family, friends, work and taking care of their mental health on their own. I hope the end results are positive.

Now for my own mental health, I’m so glad it’s the final…pass me my book.

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