Love Island 2021 review: Toby and Hugo’s inane bickering felt like a sixth form common room

·4-min read

There is a certain magic quality to Love Island that is hard to describe to anyone who does not partake in its rituals. Despite its monotony, its inane drama, the slow pace of the day-to-day boiled down to six hours a week of entertainment, still...we watch. On a week-long sabbatical, where I left the world of TV and internet and felt the warmth of the sun upon my skin, sea salt in my hair, I couldn’t help but think about them. What were they doing? Who were they chirpsing? How were they all getting along?

Sneaking off to secluded corners, I rebooted my fragile internet connection to catch glimpses of the day’s events, watching with relish as my synapses flooded with a serotonin hit only generated from half naked people on a dating game show. The cult of Love Island is for this reason, very real, our emotions tied up in a group of people totally unaware of our individual existence. This must be how minor scientologists feel about Tom Cruise.

With this in mind, I was delighted to see that in my absence (#selfcare), the islanders had been getting down and dirty, with a certain recoupling throwing the villa off kilter. After the dramatics of Thursday night’s episode, with Hugo “Main-Charactering” himself in an effort to save Chloe from elimination, it was up to the boys to work it out.

For Toby, “working it out” feels a tad too ambitious. Initially, I was prepared to pin Toby’s gentle demeanour and general squeamishness around difficult conversations on his inexperience in relationships. With Kaz, the tongue-tied discomfort of articulating his feelings was palpable, every camera zoom homing in on what looked like inner turmoil and genuine conflict etched across his handsome, vacant face. Instead, I believe the answer is simpler, and less kind. Toby is a pre-teen trapped in the body of a man, unable to resist any woman who makes a beeline for him. In the eyes of Toby, Abi is a shiny new toy that has caught his eye, offering all the glittering promise of pastures new, a slate wiped clean. For Chloe, this makes for a brutal dumping, and an evil, horrible part of me couldn’t help but take a twisted delight in watching Love Island’s very own “Captain of the Girl’s Hockey Team” face the cruel burn of karma.

In fact, the whole episode felt like a return to the sixth-form common room. Even the fight between Hugo and Toby felt reluctant, both men attempting to keep face without saying anything of substance at all, this potential “teachable” moment turning into accusations of Hugo being “A Girl Follower.” We all know Hugo is a wet wipe, but what does being a “girl follower” mean? What is that? Can someone explain to me what Toby could be trying to suggest? Is Hugo a stalker? Is being a girl follower bad? Are we living in a post-girl follower society? This is worlds away from the aggressive sparring of past seasons, hunk-to-hunk conflict shifting into mumble-core arguing, the kind that could be solved during the course of a lunch break over a ham and cheese toastie from the school canteen.

If Toby was struggling to articulate his emotions, Liberty and Jake were about to take a leap into the relationship unknown. Having finally decided that Liberty, a woman almost entirely moulded to his direct and very specific preferences, has what it takes to be his girlfriend, it was time to pop the question. Now when I get asked to be someone’s girlfriend, I personally like a bit of privacy, maybe some music, a sense of romantic ambience in the air. For Liberty, all she got was a magnetic bracelet and a bowl of unseasoned spag bol. Love, am I right?! With all the seriousness in the world, I am desperate for Liberty to be happy, and Jake’s gesture was a sweet, heart-warming symbol of what could...maybe…be the real thing.

Yet Liberty’s outburst of “I love you”, which was met with no “I love you” back, sent a shiver down my spine. With Casa Amor around the corner, will Jake stay true to his intentions or is Liberty about to have her heart broken? Bring on Sunday.

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