I have no desire to watch Love Island with my teenagers
‘The mammy in me feels a need to constantly point out the wrongs and rights of it all to my offspring’
Love Island. ‘The older kids thought the idea of me watching it was hilarious. “Is this the programme with all the horny people in it that go around half naked?” one of the teens asked. I’m not sure which troubled me more, his description or its accuracy.’ Photograph: Joel Anderson/ITV/PA Wire
“He must really love me,” I thought, as my husband sat down to watch Love Island with me. I was shocked to say the least, as it’s not really his sort of programme. Not as shocked, mind you, as I was when, after it ended, he declared: “Oh I enjoyed that more than I expected to”.
Nearly 20 years married and he never ceases to surprise me.
I feel I must add at this stage that I’m watching Love Island with a purpose – a work purpose. All the same, my friends, family and those kind enough to follow me on social media have had a field day with it.
The reality show queen herself, otherwise known as my mother, didn’t watch it and she was quick to voice her disapproval. A poll I ran on Twitter and instagram suggested that a lot of people didn’t watch it. And the memes that flooded my inbox and frequent tagging across every social media platform I use might have convinced me that I was lone viewer.
But the private messages I received suggested, just as I suspected, there were lots like me who were embarrassed about watching it and so kept their viewing habits a guilty and secret pleasure. No way were they admitting it out loud and risking public scorn.
The older kids thought the idea of me watching it was hilarious. As the days passed and I assumed my usual position in front of the TV, their curiosity was aroused.
“Is this the programme with all the horny people in it that go around half naked?” one of the teens asked. I’m not sure which troubled me more, his description or its accuracy.
“Yep. And then they have sex with each other on television,” replied another without a hint of surprise or amazement.
“Have you see the pictures of the twins and how they used to look? Some of the things people people are saying…” chipped in another as my brain started to hurt.
Watch as a family
Now I generally love watching things with my children – and with so many smallies still in the house the type of thing we ordinarily watch as a family is somewhat curtailed. So when something crops up that I can bond over with my older children, I’m on it like a shot. But several episodes in, I have no desire to watch Love Island with my teenagers.
It’s not because I’m a prude. It’s not even because I’m subconsciously compelled to adjust my own knickers as I gaze each evening upon swimwear of wedgie-inducing proportions. It’s because in spite of others claiming that it’s just mindless escapism, the mammy in me feels a need to constantly point out the wrongs and rights of it all to my offspring – and let’s be honest it’s mostly wrongs.
I was promised by those in the know that I’d become addicted
Granted, before this series I was a Love Island virgin so I’m not exactly sure whether things ultimately balance out, but we were off to a bad start when the girls had to stand there and allow the boys to choose them based purely on how they looked. It didn’t matter that the girls hadn’t stepped forward to indicate an interest.
It got worse when two beautiful blondes arrived after the initial coupling and some of the girls were only short of peeing on their boys to mark their territory. One, realising she had competition, suggested that the next day she’d walk around in nipple tassels to make sure her boy noticed her.
It felt anything but female-empowering. The boys had all the power.
I cringed further as I heard a male contestant query a female contestant he’d just met about how many partners she’d had.
We spend so much time trying to teach our sons and daughters that it isn’t all about looks. We try to teach them about being true to themselves and not feeling a need to conform to type. And then Love Island comes along and type takes on a whole new meaning.
I was promised by those in the know that I’d become addicted. I was told “it sucks you in”, that it sucks everybody in after a few days.
Mindless entertainment maybe, but that probably much depends on the perspective. If that’s the perspective of an experienced adult who can recognise and park the ludicrousness of what they’re watching, that’s all well and good. But if it’s an impressionable youngster who believes this is how they’re expected to look and behave, well that’s a whole different story
As for being sucked in – I’m still holding my own. Himself, on the other hand, was disgusted when it wasn’t on the other night.