Patrick Freyne: If only Love Island had a World Cup team
A simple people, the islanders national costume is as basic as their minds are pure
The Love Islanders continue conforming to strange ideals. Photograph: ITV
This week I watched the popular international sports-ball kick-game tournament that many of you are so obsessed with. It’s grand. It involves a lot of men chasing an orb around a well-tended field instead of growing crops on it or rezoning it for residential development. It looks easy, to be honest, and I reckon I’d be very good at it.
Many of the men had, embarrassingly, turned up wearing the same clothes and I was mortified for them. It would be better, I think, if the sartorial monotony was broken by the odd cape, boater or cane. They never once stopped to snog one another or to talk about their feelings or gaze reflectively towards the horizon while soliloquising about man’s inhumanity to man (although this is regularly implied). At one point when a man kicked the orb in an apparently favourable manner they all got into a celebratory sex pile, which was fun, I guess (my sports colleagues insist that there are no sex piles in football, but I know what I saw).
A few of the competitors were toying with foreign accents and pretending to be from makey-up countries like “France. ” But I was upset to find that one small, plucky island close to our hearts was not represented. Yes, Love Island was absent from the competition.
Love Island is a country dedicated to “love”. Not, to be clear, the love of a mother for her child or the love of a Meath man for his Opel Corsa or the love of a writer for the failure of his friends, but the sweaty, snoggy, humpy love of which Shakespeare, Keats and Sir Mixalot wrote.
Danny Dyer’s daughter Dani Dyer is here, for some reason, though his other eponymous children, Danni, Daani, Daniel and Dany Dyer are not present.
Looking at them now, it’s hard to believe that these Love Islanders are the great grandchildren of the first cast four years ago, but life on the island between seasons is hard and can be aging. A simple people, they continue conforming to strange ideals of toned, angular and lumpy sexiness. In time, the males will evolve into perfect isosceles triangles and the women into clusters of sentient balloons, and they will ultimately communicate entirely through tonal variations of the word “babes”. Now, still possessing opposable thumbs and larynxes, they sit around the pool drinking from sippy cups like toddlers, while languidly making conversation about their love lives using people words.
Formal dress shorts
Their national costume is as basic as their minds are pure – shorts for the boys and bikinis and swimming-stilettos for the girls. In the evening, when the sun (a big baby head like on Teletubbies) dips behind the horizon, the islanders change into their formal dress shorts for dinner, just like on Downton Abbey.
Although the wider compound in which they live is luxurious with chair-swings and swimming pools, they all sleep in one room in a row of beds like the Seven Dwarves or the Smurfs or the Fianna Fáil front bench. While they’re there we get to watch them sleep and snog and scheme via SAS-style night vision cameras, because that’s healthy for us all.
Their idyllic existence is regularly interrupted by edicts delivered via text from the producers and their dread executioner, Caroline Flack, and insufficiently loved-up couples are sporadically banished to the reality TV outlands, to die of underexposure.
Ensmuggened tattoo twonk Adam paints his amorous intentions for Zara as community outreach hindered by his uncharitable squeeze, Rosie
Danny Dyer’s daughter Dani Dyer is here, for some reason, though his other eponymous children, Danni, Daani, Daniel and Dany Dyer are not present. Dani Dyer is in a long stable relationship of two weeks with Jack, a likeable fellow who keeps casually touching his lad. I’ve started calling him “Jack the Lad” and that is the name I will use for my fan fiction series in which he and his partner, the Lad, solve crime. It is unclear why he keeps touching his lad. Perhaps it is lucky and touching it engenders good fortune. Perhaps he fears it will disappear, as Freud terrifyingly predicted.
At the start of the week Dani and Jack get a night in the “hideout” which is basically a nice bedroom with one bed in it, but they are so institutionalised by Smurf-life that they are really impressed. “Shit, ain’t it massive,” says Dani Dyer, channelling the old man before doing the Lambeth Walk.
This year’s breakout islander, Alex, is a handsome, posh doctor who in the real world would be considered “a catch”. On Love Island, however, he is a grotesque misshapen freak. He is treated with gentle condescension by his loved-up island-mates who have more useful island-appropriate jobs like “model” and “pen salesman”. To be fair, he is very, very sunburned. When the series began two weeks ago he was quite red. But by the time of this week’s episodes I think he’d be classed, by most experts, as “literally on fire”. If I know Alex, he’s just too polite to scream.
I might be getting hunks mixed up with deer
On Monday two new women, Ellie and Zara, arrive on the island from the eerie netherland beyond. From whence they came does not trouble the incurious islanders, but taking my cue from previous Edenic love nests, they were probably created by the producers using one of Alex’s ribs. Poor Alex. One way or another, the newcomers disturb the islanders’ gentle ecological balance like rabbits in Australia, consternating the females and confusing the males. Josh, for example, notes that the new arrivals are all the kinds of women. “You’ve got blonde, you’ve got brunette, you’ve got short, you’ve got tall,” he says with wonder.
These new girls are soon being instructed by the text machine to select three men to “date”. Eyal, a game-player with hair like a furry hat and the seduction techniques of a furry hat, is quizzed about his relationship with Megan by government advisor Zara. “Are all your eggs in Megan’s basket?” she asks and none of us are surprised that Eyal lays eggs, though this is the first indication we get of how the Love Islanders reproduce.
“I hope to see you again,” says Eyal after his date.
“Well, we live together,” says Zara, accurately.
“We do live together,” agrees Eyal, seductively.
Ensmuggened tattoo twonk Adam paints his amorous intentions for Zara as community outreach hindered by his uncharitable squeeze, Rosie. Then he tries gaslighting Rosie into thinking she rejected him. Then Ellie dates Wes, to the disapproval of Wes’s long-time island wife, Laura, into whose basket Wes has previously poured all his eggs (ooh matron!). Soon everyone is upset and whispering conspiratorially about who’s flirting with who. It’s like I, Claudius but all about boys and featuring a lingerie-clad pillow fight.
Poor hideous Alex also dates Zara and Ellie, but it just feels cruel at this stage, what with his monstrously sculpted body and disgustingly handsome face and horribly well-paid job. Yet, a few days later Ellie inexplicably kisses him and agrees to choose him during the “recoupling”, which is, I believe, something eels do. The other islanders are endearingly chuffed for their hopeless chum and all seems well in Hunk Hobbiton. But wait… what is that smug, triangular silhouette on yonder ridge? It is a new hunk and he is bellowing for dominance and has leaves in antlers in order to make him look bigger (I might be getting hunks mixed up with deer).
Anyway, the logo for Love Island is a glass heart filled with glitter jutting from the sand on a sunlit shore. If the love islanders are not careful there will be glitter everywhere, the glitter of heartbreak. Love Island is better than the World Cup.