love_island_logoI said no SO MANY TIMES. You know, in that kind of smug ‘I don’t do reality TV‘ kind of lying your arse off way. And then, one particularly vulnerable evening, intoxicated by a near win at the local pub quiz and a couple of pints of Peroni, I sat with my wonderful friends and I gingerly entered the world of Love Island…

Within minutes I was screaming like a banshee at the TV and gasping like a liberal at a Chubby Brown gig.

Unfortunately, once you enter the island, it’s pretty bloody difficult to get off it.

So now, much to the bemusement of my husband and stepson who can see that there is clearly no irony in my daily breakfast TV catch-up accompaniment, I sit eating buttered toast, slurping sweetened tea and screaming and gasping at the TV.

I’m marooned in a world of reality TV. But it’s really not, is it? Reality, I mean.

I certainly won’t claim to be the first to point out the HUGE lack of diversity on the show, it’s pretty well documented, but it makes my tea taste sour and my buttery toast taste like guilt laden blubber. Do Love Islanders eat like me? I doubt it.

Where did these immaculate people come from?

They’re all young – fair dos. I’m not complaining about being too old to be invited onto the island. But if you walk into any bar in Newcastle’s Bigg Market, you’re not going to see that immaculate scene. To be fair, I think the only scene worth getting in on in the Bigg Market is the Saigon Restaurant one, but even if you head down to Newcastle’s exclusively heaving Collingwood Street bar strip (see what I did there?), you will not be confronted with anything close to the Love Island immaculate scene. Because it doesn’t exist in reality.

I call it immaculate because that’s what it is. On Love Island everything is preened to within an inch of its young excitable life. It doesn’t make it more beautiful, though. Indeed, it doesn’t make the contestants less beautiful. But they are certainly not representative of Newcastle, or indeed any other city at it’s Saturday night best.

I’m not sure what this show is telling us? Can you not wear a bikini if you’re curvy? If you’re sporting sexy love handles will you be spurned? And why the fuck, like, does everyone speak exactly the same, like. When I was young I thought ‘grafting’ was working up a sweat in the print finishing factory trying to pack enough boxes of labels to fund a night out at Spiders nightclub.

But according to Love Island, there’s a universal language that everyone, regardless of where they come from, speaks. Crack on.

It’s not about having a pop at the contestants. All that talk about Megan having surgery – who cares. There’s more to surgery and selfies than vanity – and I think there’s an endearing vulnerability starting to shine through with Megan – but I could be very wrong, who knows, she could be manipulating a very clever game, after all, we know that ‘that kiss’ was repeated a few times before it was finally edited into the show. But are the contestants playing the Love Island game, or are the producers simply choreographing a gasp-worthy show that keeps us running back for more?

Whatever it is, it’s definitely entertaining me. Am I embarrassed to say that? Nah fuck it, as if I’m otherwise going to be sat reading Chaucer or Tolstoy instead.

But one thing that I’d love to see, is for that island to be representative of reality. For that island to look like a student’s union bar crowd. Or a college lecture hall. Or the crew at my local McDonalds. The contestants are, in the main, beautiful, but the traditionally immaculate model-esque looks are not the only things that make people beautiful (puke if you like, but it’s true, isn’t it).

I’m not some high brow dick-head of a human looking down on the Love Islanders, but come on producers, next year make it real.

As Groove Armada once said, ‘if everybody looked the same…’ (sorry, showing my age there. So here’s the clip for the under 40s). Crack on (I’ve got that wrong, haven’t I?)

A Series Of Unfortunate Stereotypes, my book about mental health stereotypes and self-stigma, published by charitable mental health publisher Trigger Press, is available now.






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