It had four times more applicants than Oxbridge this year. Even if you aren’t watching it, chances are that someone you know is.
Love Island: the ITV2 reality TV show, peaking at 3.7 million viewers – and we haven’t hit Monday’s final yet.
Its basic premise is simple: a group of attractive 20-somethings are put in a Majorcan villa, filmed 24/7, and to survive they must ‘couple up’. New contestants sporadically enter the villa, and there are ‘re-coupling’ ceremonies where contestants can change partners. If you end up single, you’re dumped from the show.
It is, quite frankly, brutal. There’s good reason that many people baulk at the very idea of it.
As well as being brutal, however, it somehow manages to do something fascinating. By bowing down to the idols of today’s culture – beauty, fame, and relationships – it inadvertently manages to expose them for what they truly are: a lie.
The contestants on Love Island are stereotypically beautiful. They are everything we often think equals success and happiness: tanned, toned, famous… and sexually desirable. Not only that, but they have been given the opportunity to find what many people want most of all: a romantic relationship.
The goals of our society are embodied in these swimsuit-clad humans, swanning around a villa in the Spanish sunshine, trying to find a mate.
We live in a world that tells us that if we’re attractive enough, thin enough, rich enough, famous enough, or just simply ‘in a relationship’, we will be happy.
Love Island, for all its flaws, shows this to be a lie.
From the girl crying ‘I just want to be enough for someone’ after being dumped, to the deep insecurities and flaws exhibited by every contestant, Love Island shows that the idols of today are doing what idols have always done: promising everything but delivering nothing.
This programme offers us an opportunity to speak truth to a generation, a culture that is – whether they realise it or not – watching their idols fall before their eyes. Love Island shows that even those who seem to ‘have it all’ will find themselves broken and disappointed when they put their hope in something fleeting.
It offers us the chance to speak of a God who, through the work of his Son, proclaims us to be ‘enough’, a Father who loves unconditionally, and a hope that remains even when the world which we have built for ourselves crumbles around us.