Voices: Why are all the men on Love Island this year so objectively terrible?

·6-min read

Is it just me or are the crop of men in this year’s Love Island more objectively terrible than any other year before?

And no, I don’t just mean their identikit Ken doll tans and puffed up pecs; their Children of the Damned-style slick matching quiffs or the teeth so white they should come with a warning not to stare directly at them without sunglasses (my eyes! My eyes are bleeding!).

I’m talking about the way I’ve seen them talk to (and about) the women on the island; the way they treat them, the way they egg each other on for behaving badly, like they’re in the pub after a rugby match and daring each other to see how many pound coins they can fit in their foreskins. Ugh.

I can barely tell them apart anyway, they’re all so uniformly awful – the only one I can really pick out is Adam Collard, and the only reason I know of him in the first place is because he’s famous for being terrible! Talk about proving my point.

I have to be honest and say I haven’t seen every single episode of the reality TV dating show this year – but I have been keeping up with it enough to be able to dip in and appreciate the classic climax of cringe: the Movie Night revelations.

It reminded me why I don’t like this series: because everything just feels so toxic. The behind-their-backs Casa Amor cheating feels toxic, the stretching of the truth afterwards feel toxic – ”I saw you in 4k doing up three way kiss”, Indiyah said to Dami, only for him to try to wriggle out of it and then to have the sheer audacity to tell Summer to “shut up”.

In my house, “shut up” is an “F-word”; the ultimate rudeness, an egregious slap-in-the-face insult thanks to its insidious undercurrent: of wanting to silence and erase, minimise and reduce. There is no greater affront than telling someone to “shut up”, in my opinion – and yes, this is the hill I am prepared to die on.

Yet all the while, during Movie Night – as the girls watched on in hushed, pained shock and silence – there was one person sniggering and whooping and clapping backs and making snide asides (”Tasha who?”). One man who is, by my reckoning, the toxic champion of the villa this season: Luca Bish.

There he was, caught on camera egging the other lads on to behave terribly to their counterparts, while he stayed chaste – as though that carves him out to be in any way better or more innocent, a paragon of virtue.

I’m sorry Luca, but no – not when you completely overreact to Gemma’s non-flirting (the girl had... a conversation) like you’re a king who’s been betrayed in ancient Rome; when you talk like a sexist (”I don’t want a bird no-one fancies”), when you gaslight and accuse Gemma of somehow “entertaining” Billy’s attentions, when in fact she spoke – speaks – only and ever in a monotone.

Poor, poor Gemma (who reminds me of Ruth Jones’s character Nessa in Gavin and Stacey): first she found herself at the centre of discourse around her tender age – at 19, her initial pairing with Davide, 27, raised some collective eyebrows – but now she has Luca to deal with. One Twitter post called on people to “Free Gemma” and it couldn’t be more right.

Christ alive, someone save the poor girl from the one person in the villa with a terrible case of rhyming nominative determinism (”Luca Bish, sells fish”), the one with the UV-warning set of gnashers, and from what I’ve seen so far, the one who’s proved himself the kind of jealous boyfriend who blows up when you happen to glance in the direction of any other man and he immediately assumes you fancy them.

You could be thanking a barista for a particularly nice oat milk latte, you could be getting off the bus and slinging a casual, “cheers, Drive” over your shoulder and Luca would be there, Shrek-like, huffing and puffing and calling you his “bird” and blowing his top because you had the audacity to SPEAK to ANOTHER MALE HUMAN and that MUST mean you want to sleep with them – right?

The fragile male ego, it is truly eyewatering. So is the toxic masculinity – and so, may I say, are the red flags.

Gemma, babes: you don’t want to be with a man so deeply insecure that he can’t handle you having a casual bit of “flirty bants” (thanks, Billy. You may look like an infant who’s found itself accidentally grown, like the kid in Boss Baby, and you may wear clothes that look like my grandma’s Bristol Pountney & Co Ltd decorative blue plates – the good ones, the ones we use at Christmas – but at least you got it right: it was “bants”, the kind we all enjoy, the kind that gives a little kick to your day, the kind that makes doing things like work or shopping or waiting for a bus more enjoyable, the kind nobody in their right mind with healthy self-esteem could complain about).

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It’s never okay to “punish” someone else for your own worries and fears, it’s never justified to refer to any woman as a “bird” – we’re not tiny, twittering, feathered things, chirping pointlessly in the background – and hammering on about a seduction threat you’ve invented (while clearly, wilfully completely forgetting you’re on LOVE ISLAND, clue’s in the name here, Luca) is unforgiveable. It’s toxic as hell and Gemma should run for the hills.

At the moment, it’s impossible to predict which one of these horrible pairings deserves to make off with the £50,000 prize pot.

“Win” Love Island? With this lot? No thanks – it’s the booby prize all the way to think of copping off with any one of these men. I think the girls should declare mutiny. Dump them all, kick them out to the day beds and luxuriate in a women’s-only villa. Face cream and eye masks and blissful sleep, unpunctuated by farts and male ego.

Make Love Island 2023 all-female and the grand prize forever-friendship, please. The women are here to save us. Sign me up.

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