Love Island: Farewell to the fantastical hunktopia

The sun set on LI2017 last night. It was the pinnacle of our televisual achievements

“Grandfather, what did you do during the ‘Dark Years’ (2017 to today inclusive)?” asks a wild-eyed child.

Grandfather pauses from whittling an iPhone 8 from calcified wood. "Well son, I largely watched Love Island."

“You weren’t paying attention to global politics?”

“I was! But I’d seen that already. It was sh*t. All repeats. I changed the channel for a while in search of cheer.”


A shriek cleaves the air as one of the giant mutated Nigel Farages rampages by, dropping tiny Trumplings from his pelt as he goes. The child shudders. "I hate the Trumplings."

The grandfather puts a finger on his mouth. "Hush now child. Put another rat on the fire and let me tell you of the Love Island."

The child sighs, picks up a rat and puts it on the campfire. Grandfather sits back and continues whittling. "Love Island was an attempt to tell a beautiful love story using the medium of hunks."

“This sounds stupid.”

Grandfather ignores him. “A selection of the world’s best hunks and hunkettes were placed on an island where they took instructions from an anonymous producer and were encouraged to fall in love and play mind games and hopefully have sex in front of ‘the general public’.”

“The general public? Those bastards! I’ve heard of them. They voted for Brexit and Trump and that thing with the tentacles and the Fianna Fáil/Sinn Féin coalition.”

Grandfather chuckles and reaches for his scrap book. “They really were scamps, the general public.”

He opens the scrap book. There in the middle of a big love heart drawn in marker is a sepia-coloured photograph of the full cast of Love Island 2017.

The child grimaces. “Ugh, they’re hideous misshapen freaks.”

Grandfather looks hurt. “Now son, before our current skin conditions and vitamin deficiencies and toothlessness, this is what passed for ‘fit’.”

“But they’re so . . . lumpy. Who’s that?”

"That's Caroline Flack. She owns the Love Island. She lives there still surrounded by her hunkbots if the legends are true."

“She looks well paid.”

Grandfather laughs. “Probably not as much as a male counterpart, son, but yes.”

“So how did it work?”

“Well, each day the islanders would gather around a sort of watering hole and would accede to the whims of a handheld device. They bickered and formed twosomes and threesomes and touching bromances and engaged in ridiculous mind games and mugged each other off and had DMCs and had sex on telly and they all slept in a big communal bedroom like the seven dwarves or the Smurfs. And they did so happily, not out of terror as we do today. All in all, it was a fantastical hunktopia and we shall never see its like again.”

“Where are their clothes?”

“They rarely wore shirts because shirts chafed their delicate skin.”

“Was there any dark side to this wonderland?”

“Okay, every now and again The Flack would come and there would be an event called The Recoupling. And then, in good Darwinian fashion, those not in a breeding pair were excluded from the group and sent out into the wilderness to die. But frankly we were okay with that; the couples left over were totes adorbs.”

“I feel like you’re anthropomorphising them.”

“Um, it wasn’t a wildlife documentary.”

“You’re making it sound like a wildlife documentary.”

The grandfather sighs and flicks over a page in the scrapbook. “Let’s have a look at the ‘finale’.”

“The Trumpocalypse?”

“No just the final episode of the series. By the last episode [which was Monday night on 3e for readers in 2017] the four best couples were left. There was Chris who had a head like a sullen Ken doll and Olivia who seemed to enjoy hurting him. There was Jamie, who had a jaw like a rectangle and was a renaissance man in that he modelled underwear but also read books, and Camilla, who was posh and saintly and beloved by all. There was Marcel and Gabby who, having been a couple for a whole four weeks, taught us all something about monogamy and stick-to-itiveness. And there was Amber and Kem.” He sighs. “They were total melty sorts.”

“Kem isn’t a real name,” says the child, a little sulkily.

“It totally is, Kemstopher. Anyway, it was great. They all did the tango badly and wrote declarations of love and jumped into the swimming pool and drank champagne and then The Flack presented them to the baying crowd who loved them.”

“I don’t know Granddad, it sounds kind of exploitative, heteronormative and a bit porny.”

Grandfather looks sad. "You don't know how bad things were by 2017," he says. "I was a television reviewer. I KNOW. Things were dark. The hunklings seemed so sweet and naive and simple and funny, like a Love Is… cartoon but with real sex. It was a world in which a woman could say, with a straight face, 'It was very difficult \for me] after 'Licence to Swill'."

“But they were grown adults. How did they put up with such nonsense?”

“These were more innocent times. None of them had fought in a war [yet]. Except possibly Marcel, who was in Blazin' Squad, a branch of the armed forces. All I know is, they were the heroes we needed at the time.”

“I’m not sure they were,” says the child, lifting a roasted rat from the fire with his stabbing stick.

"Anyway, the general public made their choice and it was Kem and Amber," says grandfather. "Kem and Amber were the best at being in love. And they had come through 'difficult times' and they agreed to share the £50,000 prize. And then Elon Musk sent them to Mars to spawn a golden race of hunks. I think. I forget. Things get a bit hazy after the finale because of, you know, the horror."

The child raises an eyebrow. “I’m not sure that was ‘love’. And looking at the pictures in your scrapbook, I’m not sure that it was really an island. At best it was an archipelago. It was a lust archipelago. That’s what you have there, Grandfather, a lust archipelago.”

Grandfather moans and clutches his scrapbook to his chest. “You have no poetry in your soul, boy. Eat your rat.” He stares for a while in the firelight at his wood-carved iPhone. He smiles and mutters to himself as he taps on it. “They were so goddamned hunky,” he mutters. “Hashtag hunky,” he adds. “Hashtag my happy place.”

The child observes him sadly. The old man is unlikely to survive another winter, he thinks. In the darkness the Trumplings emit an electronic scream.