Oh Love Island. You just couldn’t help yourself, could you? As the new series of sun-soaked softcore pornography kicked off on ITV2, a trim cross section of society were filmed leaving their day jobs (beautician, police officer, and, er, democratic services officer et al) for weeks of round-the-clock filming, shagging and nonsensical colloqulisms. Oh, but not before ripping away their uniforms to expose bouncing pneumatic breasts that, in all likelihood, would conjure a disciplinary of the highest order. Page Three never died, kids.
But a swift dismissal is fine. Because for these ten lovehunters, life will never be the same again. They’ll be adored. They’ll be hated. They’ll have their very essence subject to a grisly dissection by Twitter every single day. And the cast are ripe for the picking apart, too: an Essex girl who's not like a normal Essex girl in that she ‘likes to keep it classy’ (thus becoming like every other Essex girl ever on ITV2), the lovechild of Jeremy Edwards and Craig Charles, and Siannise Fudge: proof that not all Bristolians wear hemp and cure common colds with a bit of topaz.
Upon their short-term stay in a brand new villa in Cape Town (a pilgrimage to South Africa is likely far simpler to coordinate than a post-Brexit production in Spain), it was business as usual. Young women lined up like sacrificial lambs in cork wedges, steroid-enhanced young men entered and selected their potential mate, and soon enough, all couples were cooped up in a windowless cell of a bedroom for fifteen minutes of maddening conversation. Shaugna is worried that all scaffolders are cheaters. Nas pretends he likes Disney films. Connor has no idea what a PA is, or does, much to the surprise of the Z-minus celeb in Rochelle Humes’ sister. She also gave millions of despondent viewers some real meaty insight: “I’ve got a mum. Her name is Julie.” Then, two identical twins thrown in to ‘stir things up’, and continually lick their teeth like hyenas on fillers.
But this is new Love Island, we’re told. There’s a new villa, with a bigger pool, and more sunbeds. The hideaway – a now infamous den of sin in which a Miss GB saw an unfair dethroning by fellatio – is bigger, allowing for more night vision coitus that’ll humiliate innocent women. Though beneath the new gold plating, it’s hard to see any real, remarkable changes. Yes, Caroline Flack is no more. That wasn’t even a considered choice though. Her own personal misdemeanours saw a quick resignation, resulting in Laura Whitmore, a TV presenter with all the charm of a routine colonoscopy.
What’s more, these people are professionals. Nobody foresaw the rise of this reality TV underdog, and with it, the ascendant fortunes of Love Island Hall of Famers like Kem and Chris, Olivia Buckland and smiling assassin Megan Barton-Hanson. The catchphrases are almost rehearsed. They know millions of eyes are watching. Spontaneity is in short supply, making us all long for the days of cigs by the fire pit and fiery confrontations that resulted in a contender’s ejection in a matter of minutes (the inimitable Malia Arkian, if you’d forgotten).
And, as the introductions followed a well-trodden path on last night’s show (“like, so, what’s your type?”), it’s hard to see the latest series changing tack. Then again, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. We still tune in. Millions still buy Missguided lines. But, as rippling muscles trigger an issue of national insecurity, and we see a young man of Asian origin left on the romantic highway, the tropes are getting a little tired - and not even Connor's shiniest Thai veneers can distract from that.