After a summer hiatus, Love Island UK (and Love Island USA) is officially back on our tellies. If you’re a fan of the reality show, then you’re probably familiar with the common refrain, “It isn’t friend island.” This is usually said by someone who’s about to do something arguably muggy — only after confirming with their villa friends that they should be looking out for number one. And therein lies the irony of Love Island.

The premise of the show is a group of hot, young singles spends the summer of their lives in a luxury villa with the hopes of finding love. The group, referred to as islanders (although Reddit user breadbreadbreads pointed out, “If they live in a villa, perhaps we should call them villains”), are coupled up and filmed for the next eight or so weeks. With nothing to do except banter, graft, and crack on with anyone who catches their eye, the islanders get up to drama as a result of varying levels of romantic escapades.

For most islanders, love is found and quickly lost — on and off the show. To be fair, the show is called Love Island, not “Love You Brought Back in Your Suitcase from the Island.” From the title alone, it’s obvious that Love Island has a “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” vibe, which is why it shouldn’t be shocking when love rarely makes it off of the island. Yet every time a couple breaks up after the show, I’m still gobsmacked.

People hate on Love Island USA, but it wasn’t that boring, especially in season two. Criticism aside, I honestly thought the two winning couples would make it longer than they did. Zac and Elizabeth were really strong from the start, and Justine and Caleb became a swoon-worthy pair almost immediately after coupling up. Neither couple are still romantically involved.

Across the pond, it’s a similar story. While there was definitely something in the water during Love Island UK seasons two and three (and maybe even the winter season) — to recap, Cara and Nathan are married with two kids; Olivia and Alex are married with a kid on the way; Jess and Dom are married with a kid, and Camilla and Jamie are still together with a kid — most of the couples have split post-show.

One reason for the high split rate could be due to the fact that it’s hard to build a solid foundation for a relationship while so removed from the real world. There are also always rumors swirling about couples faking it for the cameras. Love Island is a game with a rather large prize, after all.


 

However, I’m not sure if that’s truly it. I think the problem very well could be traced back to how society views and prioritizes romantic love as the highest form of connection. (On top of this, Love Island has historically prioritized romantic love between white, cis-gendered, heterosexual, non-disabled couples. Season seven is trying to rectify this, but tokenism isn’t diversity, and the franchise as a whole can do a lot better.) This doesn’t take into account the various shapes and forms of love. Some of the strongest bonds between people are purely platonic. And some of the strongest relationships that stand the test of time outside of the villa are the friendships between islanders.

From Love Island UK, Cara and Olivia; Montana, Camilla, and Gabby; and Yewande, Amber, and Anna were some of my favorite bestie duos and trios. From Love Island USA, Justine and Cely stole my heart — and recently linked up with season one’s Alexandra, Kyra, and Elizabeth. Let’s also not forget that Lauren and Joshua made it to the very end of Love Island UK season one as a friendship couple.

In the villa, voting comes down to platonic relationships as much as romantic relationships. Regularly, islanders reference whether a newcomer fits in well with the group, even going as far as keeping certain islanders who gel well with everyone versus islanders with budding romances. While much of the show does feature chats between couples and potential love interests, scenes regularly depict the group dynamic and side conversations amongst different friend groups as well.


If the islanders were in bubbles in which they could only talk to people they were romantically interested in, I think the show would lose its entertainment. Sometimes it’s just as fun talking about your crush as it is having one. And, if we’re being honest, most of our favorite moments aren’t the most romantic. We — yes, I’m speaking for all of us — live for the drama, the shenanigans, and the tomfoolery. Without the friendships amongst the islanders, how would we have the inflammatory gossip, the chats about doing bits, and the memorable confrontations?

I’m not saying the show needs to change in any way, I’m just saying friendships are a huge part of what makes Love Island successful. While islanders like to say, “It isn’t friend island” — it is friend island, and this is the very reason why I still root for love. Many islanders leave the villa having found love. It might not be romantic love, but the show isn’t called Romantic Love Island, is it?

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  • Kayla Webb

    Kayla Webb is a writer with a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. When she's not obsessing over words and sentences, Kayla can be found trying to read too many books at one time, snuggling with her cats, and fangirling over everything pop culture.

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