Love Island came oozing back onto our screens this week. The nation plugged in, somewhat dutifully. Clouding proceedings was a pervasive sense that summer 2018, with its weeks of interrupted sunshine and nightly footballing highs preceding Love Island broadcasts, might have been the peak, for both the programme and the nation. But we soldiered on anyway and were quickly rewarded with a philosophy for the ages.
“It is what it is,” muttered Love Island contestant Sherif Lanre during the first episode, after being roundly rejected as a potential partner by all the women. Fellow Islander Michael Griffiths, an extremely attractive Scouse fireman with a biomedical degree picked it up just minutes later, upon being ditched by Lucie Dolan.
Like “my type on paper”, and “my heads been turned” before it – immediately, the phrase gained traction.
It is what it is. It is… what it is. At once begrudging, petulant and magnanimous by turns, the beauty of this particular mantra lies in its ultimate acceptance. A situation has been assessed, perhaps found wanting but still, there is nothing to be done and therefore only one route remains: to make your peace and look towards the future.
‘It is what it is’ is a statement of the literal, sure, but it is also a expression of the abstract, of a ‘state of potentiality’, as one psychologist put it. What ‘it’ refers to depends on the context and as such, the sentiment of acceptance takes on different tenors.
‘It’ could be happily sinking into the oily embrace of Love Island and its inevitable dominance over all social feeds for the next eight weeks. ‘It’ might refer to the nauseous realisation that no matter how many people oppose the state visit of a quasi-fascist, the UK is going to roll out the red carpet regardless, shake hands and plot to systematically dismantle national healthcare together.
By turns, ‘it’ is good and ‘it’ is bad but whatever ‘it’ is, powering it is the knowledge that life must go on and you must – in the words of a wise children’s film – accept it and “let it go”. It is what it is. Big mood.