Love Island is like a highly-sexed episode of the Teletubbies

Unlike the BBC’s 1900 Island, Love Islanders are tasked with making sweet, sweet love

 

Given that half of their titles are the same you might think that The 1900 Island (BBC2) and Love Island (Virgin Media Two) would be very similar. You’d be wrong. They’re very different islands and very different programmes and if you went to one expecting the other you’d be a bit put out. “I wanted to learn to whittle and now a voluptuous man is grinding on me!” you might shout.

The denizens of The 1900 Island have been marooned on the windswept island of Llanddwyn by the BBC, who are angry at them because of Brexit, and feel that watching them subsist with early 20th century technology is good enough for them. And so a number of modern British office workers and their families are given period costumes and jobs – fisherman, baker, farmer, grocer – for educational purposes and, I guess, laughs, and then they have to make their own food out of animals and trees and stuff.

In contrast, on the very sunny Love Island the participants’ costumes are removed and their day-jobs include social media influencer, beauty therapist and ballroom dancer. That’s all you need, really, to restart civilisation when the lights eventually go out. And then they are tasked with making sweet, sweet love.

On The 1900 Island people battle gout without medication. They cut their hands cleaning mussels they will sell for pennies. They have arguments over sharing eggs. They struggle to fish in Britain’s industrially overfished waters and their children go hungry, because the BBC are apparently allowed to do that with the Tories in power. It’s only a matter of time, really, before they make a programme called the 1660s Island in which they infect participants with plague and set them on fire.

The 1900 islanders struggle to fish in Britain’s industrially overfished waters and their children go hungry, because the BBC are apparently allowed to do that with the Tories in power
The 1900 islanders struggle to fish in Britain’s industrially overfished waters and their children go hungry, because the BBC are apparently allowed to do that with the Tories in power

On Love Island, the residents are treated like the rarest panda bears. Their food just appears. They do lots of self-grooming, working out and lying around on multicoloured bean bags. They follow any texted instructions unquestioningly, accept the Stalinist erasure of some of their number (Sherif is disappeared this week for unspecified “rulebreaking”) and they have no books. In fact, heavily-tattooed fireman Michael is the nearest thing they have to a book, and I fully expect that when the end comes, they will gather around him to read the cursive text on his chest for clues as to why they now live in a burning beanbag-fort.

A key difference between Love Island and The 1900 Island is that, on the latter, people come with families attached. On Love Island, relationship units are formed in an ancient rite overseen by a shiny, terrifying priestess named Caroline Flack. This is called “the Recoupling” and is a nerve-wracking experience because partnerless hunks and hunkettes are banished to the badlands beyond the villa where they are probably feasted on by buff vultures.

On one episode this week, Anton, a gym owner, gives us an insight into just how nerve-wracking and unhygienic the Recoupling is. “I was literally shitting myself,” he says.

I don’t have favourites on The 1900 Island, because life is hard there and I reckon it’s best not to get too attached

Yewande is my favourite on Love Island (I don’t have favourites on The 1900 Island, because life is hard there and I reckon it’s best not to get too attached). She’s a scientist from Ireland and in the show’s trailers she was shown shedding a labcoat to reveal a bikini, just like Dr Bunsen Honeydew used to do.

Tommy, a boxer, is my other favourite. He’s a simple soul who needs help making a cup of tea. He tells Molly-Mae that he wants to find an Adrian to his Rocky. He just wants someone to smile lovingly at him as he is beaten to a pulp. But Molly-Mae’s roving eye is already gazing at Anton.

This love triangle makes Tommy glum. He hates triangles, he says, clearly unaware of the triangular shape of his own torso. “I never want to see a triangle again in my life. If I see a triangle then ...” He pauses. “I’m not going to do anything. I just don’t want to see a triangle.”

Like it or not he’s in a triangle of Molly-Mae’s devising. She can’t choose between him and Anton. “I wish I could create Tomton or Antom,” she says, and I imagine her fishing out Yewande’s discarded labcoat and heading to the lab.

Tommy does his best to woo Molly-Mae. He uses his huge bearlike mitts to make her an omelette, something he does with the “assistance” of Curtis. This gives him an existential crisis. “I cooked the omelette so I don’t know why I’m getting in the mindframe that I didn’t,” says Tommy, who’s not entirely sure he really cooked the omelette.

This is only true if canaries, rabbits and rhinoceroses spend huge amounts of time lifting weights and conferring among themselves about how to mate

Curtis, the ballroom dancer, is the house confidant. He guides, advises and whispers. In the past I’ve likened Love Island to a nature documentary. But on reflection this is only true if canaries, rabbits and rhinoceroses spend huge amounts of time lifting weights and conferring among themselves about how to mate. There’s a lot of talk on the show.

When they hear there’s to be a new hunk (they later also add a Longford hunkette) and that Yewande is to go on a date with him, rather than thinking, as they would on the 1900 Island, “Oh no! another mouth to feed!”, the incumbent hunks start imagining him.

“I think he’s going to be six-foot-tall with a nice slim body,” says Curtis

“I think he’ll have abs,” says Michael.

“Healthy clean looking,” says Curtis.

“He’s going to be lean as f***,” says Michael.

The chortling sun rises and its strangely sweet and lumpy inhabitants waddle out towards their multi-coloured beanbags

It’s like a hunk-themed game of Guess Who. They’re not shy with compliments. Molly-Mae decides to turn her love triangle into a square by adding new boy Danny to the mix. She praises his “calm” and “friendly” face, making him sound like a mobile above a baby’s cot.

Then Amber goes on a date with Danny. She dresses up in a sort of bustier and big pants combination that I do not understand and a floppy-haired caterer named Joe says, “You look sick!”

In The 1900 Island when someone says, “You look sick!” it means they’re probably dying of malnutrition. That programme comes from a long line of fascinating documentary experiments where people are put in uncertain situations and subjected to the vagaries of fate. On Love Island, as the chortling sun rises and its strangely sweet and lumpy inhabitants waddle out towards their multi-coloured beanbags, it looks less like a documentary and more like a highly-sexed episode of Teletubbies. Anyway, I think they should do a crossover episode.

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