Love Island 2021: If you didn’t like the series, you weren’t watching properly

Winners Millie Court and Liam Reardon provided much-needed drama in a show many found dull

Millie Court and Liam Reardon split the £50,000 prize

Millie Court and Liam Reardon split the £50,000 prize

 

Amid tears, cheers and an accidental marriage proposal Millie Court and Liam Reardon have been crowned winners of Love Island 2021 (Virgin Media One, Monday, 9pm). 

The result is announced by presenter Laura Whitmore at the end of a tense if slightly drawn-out final.The couple, whose relationship had its ups and downs across their weeks in the villa, were among the favourites to place first in the contest – and walk away with the £50,000 prize.

They finish ahead of Chloe Burrows and Toby Aromolaran, who come second, Teddy Soares and Faye Winter, third, and  Kaz Kamwi and Tyler Cruickshank, in fourth place. 

The Irish contestants – yes, they existed – came and went before anyone noticed. So farewell, Salma Naran, Kaila Troy and Matthew MacNaab. We hardly knew you. Didn’t know you at all, in fact

Millie and Liam share a bubbly chemistry and have an easygoing manner that has gone down well with viewers. In a season that often felt becalmed, they also provided some much-needed drama when Liam strayed with another contestant, Lillie, during the Casa Amor “challenge”, when contestants are given the opportunity to hook-up with new arrivals.

Lillie revealed the truth to Millie, leading her and Liam to break up. But he won her back, and on their final night in the villa they can’t stop making heartfelt professions of devotion.

Liam even appears to propose, albeit largely by accident. When the topic of matrimony comes up, he blurts, “It has been on my mind for a while.” The live audience is duly reduced to paroxysms. 

Love conquers all, too, as Millie chooses to share the prize money with Liam rather than pocket the loot herself. As she does, hearts melt faster than the Cork half-back line in Croke Park.  

Faye, meanwhile, addresses her instantly notoriously outburst against Teddy, which led to 25,000 complaints against ITV, which broadcasts Love Island in the UK. “My head got a bit lost. Went back to the UK,” she tells Whitmore. “It got a first-class flight home.” 

It has been both a quietly strange and strangely quiet Love Island. The Irish contestants – yes, they existed – came and went before anyone noticed. So farewell, Salma Naran, Kaila Troy and Matthew MacNaab. We hardly knew you. Didn’t know you at all, in fact. 

Otherwise, the criticism has been that the entire season has been low on energy. Love Island diehards pushed back with the counterargument that the series takes a while to get going. And that, if you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss the nuances. Yes, we live in a time when, if you don’t like Love Island, it’s because you’re not watching properly. 

Most will agree that Love Island 2021 has been a few battery-powered bunnies short of a knock-out. Much of the time it just bobbed along, as if drifting across a pool on a lilo

And yet most will agree that Love Island 2021 has been a few battery-powered bunnies short of a knock-out. Tears were shed in the final week, it’s true, when Liberty and Jake broke up, with Liberty sensing her feelings for her boyfriend were not reciprocated.   

There was also the aforementioned blow-out between Faye and Teddy after Faye was shown out-of-context footage of her partner expressing admiration for another islander. There was uproar among viewers. And questions were raised about the sincerity of the producers’ pledge to usher in a kinder Love Island and to prioritise the emotional wellbeing of contestants. 

Elsewhere Love Island just bobbed along, as if drifting across a pool on a lilo. There were neither heroes nor villains, with little any of us will remember six months – or even six minutes – from now.   

Whitmore had a decent series, as she stepped in for the late Caroline Flack. There wasn’t an awful lot of her on screen – but, then, she was commuting from Majorca to London in a pandemic. Let’s be kind.

That message is especially applicable to all those on Twitter comparing her unfavourably to Flack – proof that, just when you think the internet has achieved peak lack of self-awareness, it can always go one better. 

With ratings reaching a record 2.8 million across the season, she will almost certainly be back. There is clearly still an appetite for reality-TV stories told sensitively and with a dash of drama. The hope must be that, next time out, ITV finds a way to make it all slightly more exciting.