The nation switched over to Love Island from the Euros final last night, licking our wounds after a bitterly disappointing penalty shootout, searching for some reprieve and levity. A week ago, that would’ve been a hopeless endeavour. But as if they read our minds – or, no doubt, scoured through our tweets – the Love Island producers have finally upped the ante on the island of amour.
New bombshells for both the boys and girls have rocked the house. All the men are finding ways to manufacture problems within their current couplings, and different camps and cliques are beginning to form within the villa. Meanwhile, Teddy has caught the eye of every woman in the villa and will probably play a huge part in deciding which girl is dumped from the island in the recoupling. Just what the doctor ordered to heal post-Euros malaise. However, there are a few moments that have left viewers feeling pretty uneasy – namely, the treatment of PE teacher, Hugo Hammond.
This season’s first major bust-up came after a game of “Knowing Me, Knowing You”, during which Hugo repeatedly mentioned that “fakeness” was a big turn off for him and categorically was not what he was after in a partner. Having undergone cosmetic surgery themselves, Faye and Sharon took personal offence to Hugo’s comments. By the end of the night, Hugo had been told to “get educated as to why girls get work done”, while Sharon asserted that she would “never turn around to a guy and be like ‘I wouldn’t date you because of your height or I wouldn’t date you because of your race.’”
There was so much in the scene that left me befuddled. Why were the non-stop discussions about preferences for light eyes and blonde hair OK, but the line drawn at disliking cosmetic procedures? The statement from Sharon, a woman of Indonesian heritage, also made a rather hefty false equivalence between fillers and race. Other Love Island viewers were quick to point out that Hugo, the show’s first ever contestant with a physical disability, being lectured about discrimination and image insecurities was pretty insulting. What concerned me the most, however, was how deeply upset Hugo was.
We saw absolute devastation in his face, his voice and body language. We watched him break down in tears as he tried to explain himself to his fellow Islanders. Sure, he might be a very sensitive person, but even then, it was worrying to see, especially after an isolating year that has wreaked havoc with our emotions and seen a rise in people being worried that their friends might hate them or that they no longer know how to socialise. Considering Love Island’s history with mental health, producers would be wise to keep an eye out for displays of intense emotion and prioritise a duty of care towards the islanders.
Unfortunately, Hugo was also central to another rather uncomfortable scene. During the rather unsexy police challenge, “Line of Booty”, the girls did their best poses while being accosted with hose water. Then, they disturbingly groped the man of their choice to find their “smuggled goods”, before flinging them behind bars. With new girls Lucinda and Millie in tow, the challenge was basically a chance to land a smooch on the Islander they most fancied.
The boys were sultrily selected one by one and tossed in the makeshift jail. With more girls than boys currently in the villa, three boys were pulled out from behind bars to be gleefully searched once more. All the while Hugo simply watched on; he was the only boy that wasn’t picked.
“Not humiliating at all,” he said under his breath, a pained smile on his face as he strode across the game area to stand next to the imprisoned boys, aiding them in crowning the challenge’s sexiest girl – his only participation in the challenge. It was so difficult to watch that some viewers actually complained to Ofcom about the challenge and its treatment of Hugo.
I wonder whether Love Island’s producers could extend their “be kind” mantra, infused with a little common sense, to their cast. Why is there not some sort of rule that makes it clear that every person has to participate in games? If a challenge doesn’t include every Islander by default, then maybe it’s worthy of being scrapped. We’ve previously witnessed all kinds of games on the show that have included every Islander, including the nauseating passing-food-and-drink-by-mouth-because-there-was-no-pandemic-to-worry-about game.
We’re more fragile now than ever, after our world has been flipped upside down over the last year and a half. Producers would do well to remember that as they press on with the season.
Who’s giving us the ick?
Labelled as “sneaky, snakey and sly” by Kaz, Chloe made moves on Toby in a cowardly and underhand manner throughout the week. When questioned by Kaz for an explanation of why she didn’t approach her about it first, all she could say was, “Yeah, do you know what I mean?”
This week’s type on paper
I may or may not be warming to Faye. She minds her business for the most part but also isn’t afraid to make some noise on behalf of her pals, namely the original girls. Aside from Filler-gate, Faye could be, dare I say it, alright?