Our long, international Love Island nightmare is over. It’s been a year and a half of sadly watching Hulu reruns, dreaming of happier times and repeating those four little words to yourself: “I got a text!” (and if you’re Ovie: “message!”). But we’re back, and this year Vulture is recapping every horny second for posterity. There’s not much change from the show’s pre-pandemic years: Narrator Iain explains contestants must undergo a two-week quarantine before they start swapping saliva, and production has graced them with an updated villa complete with eggplant portraits and Rabbit vibrator-shaped chairs. Who will hump them first? But now on to the important stuff: welcoming the Love Island U.K. Class of 2021!
Check Out These Sexy Singles
As soon as I hear the first notes of a royalty-free techno song, so much serotonin hits my brain I nearly black out. We’re starting off strong here. In the intro package, Unnamed Muscled Man No. 2 hammers a pipe, and Unidentified Bikini Woman No. 5 writes “Brexit/EU” on a whiteboard, in an easter egg referring to one of the show’s greatest moments. As is sacred, the women arrive first, chanting customary “woo”s and nearly falling off their 5-inch stilettos. The brand-new babes include:
• Liberty. She works at a chicken restaurant and likes “meat … a lot of meat.” Typical Love Island fare, but she seems pretty sweet. Possibility of getting a Boohoo brand deal? 9/10.
• Kaz, our first Essex girl! She’s a fashion blogger and wants a guy to rail her, which is giving me Carrie Bradshaw meets The Only Way is Essex. I want her to win this show.
• Sharon, the policy wonk who clearly has been studying her Love Island history. She says men feel emasculated by her “savage” personality, which I’m hoping means we get an epic screaming session between her and Unnamed Muscled Man. No. 4 near the daybeds.
• Faye, our season’s first (self-admitted) boob job, because the island needs at least one set of fake boobs in its ecosystem at all times. She wants a man who can “rip [her] a new arsehole. Not like that!” Electing not to add that catchphrase to the Love Island dictionary.
• Finally there’s Shannon, our first Scot who seemingly became a model out of nowhere. Boohoo is in her DMs as we speak.
Host Laura Whitmore slow-mo walks in, wearing hair clips that read “my type on paper,” proving that we’ve reached the post-modern, self-referential era of Love Island. Then we get to the meat of the show: the first coupling. Let’s me(a)t the boys!
• Jake, the water engineer who did critical damage to a pipe in the show’s intro, has a foot fetish. All hope is not lost, however — season six’s Finn was open about his fetish and now he’s happily in love. Jake seems to find his Paige, as Liberty steps forward for him and they couple up.
• Aaron is gorgeous and has never cheated, propelling him to the top of the rankings immediately. The women can sense this, and both Faye and Kaz step forward for him. Breaking all conventions, Aaron picks Shannon, a girl who did not step forward! It’s unheard of, but Kaz and Faye swallow their pride and assure Laura they’re ready to move on.
• Hugo, PE instructor and love of my life, is next. He’s the kind of teacher that middle-school girls would find on social media and stalk relentlessly. No one steps forward for him, which is a crime, but he chooses Faye. Don’t worry Hugo! I’ll call you Mr. Hammond!
• Toby is a semi-pro footballer who plays for a team called Hashtag United, which, on first Google Search, was started by a YouTuber in 2016 and is in the eighth tier of English football. So, emphasis on the semi. Clearly the women are looking for League One or higher and don’t step forward, and Toby is left to steal Faye away.
• Finally there’s Brad, whose piercing blue eyes get him first prize despite his mediocre personality. He lives with his dog and his nana, whom I will from now on be referring to as B’Nana. I can barely understand his thick accent, but that doesn’t seem to bother the women, and Liberty, Faye and Sharon step forward for him. He picks Faye, leaving Toby to join Hugo on the subs bench.
From the subs bench, Hugo couples up with Sharon, leaving Toby and Kaz to get together. God, this show is so racist! This makes the fourth time a Black woman has not been picked in the first coupling. This is diversity without inclusion: Love Island is making its casting more diverse without picking partners who also value that. Guess we really should have seen this coming.
Is 50,000 pounds really enough for all this psychological torture and debasement? Apparently: Before she leaves, Laura hints that the girls will have to graft especially hard to impress their new boos. Could a new girl be coming in soon? That would be a huge shock, if it hadn’t happened the previous four seasons!
Let’s Get Grafting
The islanders immediately break up into couples, as is their right. The vibe here? Can’t be described as anything but eeh. No one seems particularly passionate about their partner, except Shannon, who is somehow not attracted to Aaron; she must be blinded by all the boob highlighter going on. Toby and Kaz take the vibrator chairs for a spin, and Jake and Liberty solidify themselves as the bimbo couple by talking about MILFs.
It’s time for a getting-ready montage, and the girlies are layering on that bronzer! I instantly feel at home. There’s a slow-motion dancing scene, and I begin to wonder if there’s actual music playing or if they’re all just silently twerking. After working up a sweat, Liberty pulls Jake for a chat and he trips down the stairs, proving that they’re all already Luann de Lesseps in Mexico levels of drunk. Liberty really likes him for some reason that might have to do with his 12 layers of abs, while Jake isn’t sure if he wants to “rip her clothes off.” C’mon, Jake! Don’t lead her on like this! Spoon her in bed, or let her crack on with a 21-year-old Calvin Klein model from Cardiff!
Time for some sexy dares to get the islanders as horny as possible before we film them in bed together! Faye and Brad make out, Aaron and Shannon twerk to the 10 seconds of “Up” the licensing team could secure, Sharon sucks Hugo’s ear and subsequently smudges red lipstick over everything in a 3-foot radius. But the best and worst moment of the night comes when Toby is dared to suck Kaz’s toe, and Jake decides to record the moment on his production-issued cell phone to add to his island spank bank. This is your man, Liberty? Really?
Suddenly, in a terrible production decision, Chloe, the new islander, sends everyone a voice memo and invites the boys to a Bachelor-style group date. Her voice is somehow both posh and Valley Girl, but the boys are into it: Toby calls a board meeting, and they all agree to go on the date together so as to endure the least amount of wrath from the girls. Obviously this tactic does not work, and the ladies consult The Art of War and make fun of Chloe’s voice to feel better. Chloe gets a text that lets her know she has 24 hours to couple up with the boy of her dreams, leaving one of the girls single and vulnerable, even though right now most of them remain spiritually single.
The islanders have a peaceful rest, which features Jake getting up multiple times to “look at the birds,” which is code for “watch Toby suck Kaz’s toe again.” The girls make a tactical error this morning by going to work out, leaving Chloe to flirt with every man in sight. Back to the books, ladies! She seems to like Aaron the most, and is impressed with his dreams to go into skincare. She’s looking out for the next Skincare by Hyram, proving herself to be intelligent once again.
Promiscuous challenge time! Lizzo plays as the islanders prance about in shiny red outfits and devil horns. Like most of this show, it’s something about secrets and kissing. Notably, Sharon makes out with Aaron and really enjoys it. Chloe reveals she once got a sex toy stuck inside of her and Brad says his nana once walked in on him having sex. B’Nana, no! Hugo discloses that he once had sex in the middle of the road? And kissed 10 girls in one night? Please don’t let his students watch this.
At the recoupling, Chloe decides to couple up with Aaron because he and his skincare make her feel the most comfortable. In an actual shock, Shannon is left single and is sent home on the second night! She barely got enough screen time for Boohoo to slide in!
Today, it’s the boys’ turn to work out, so the ladies ogle them while making high-pitched, bird-like noises in a complex mating ritual. Sharon and Hugo decide they’re mutually not into each other, which — Sharon, are you blind? Are you blind? Hoping a petite school nurse from Manchester comes in and boosts Hugo’s spirits.
Toby and Kaz get a date! Production blows major coin on a couple of pillows near the water, and Toby calls it the most “romantic” date he’s ever been on. Kaz takes the reins, teaching him how to ask a girl out (hint: Don’t say “if you want to”) and asking to come watch his matches. Toby, I’m pleasantly surprised. Kaz, keep being perfect. Meanwhile, Jake seems to be really liking the fact that both he and Liberty want to go on a boat, and Brad seems to be starting to hate Faye. He said that “the more [he] sees her, the less [he’s] attracted to her.” Oof, that hurts, especially coming from a man I can barely understand half the time.
It’s beer pong night, and the dares are flowing. Kaz and Toby kiss for the first time (!) and Brad kisses Chloe for the girl he’s most attracted to and Faye for the least. Faye, I know you wanted a man to rip you a new asshole, but not like this, please not like this. Finally, we get some of our first drama of the season when Faye says Brad made her look like a dick and said he clearly needed this so his knob can grow “half an inch.” Get him, Faye! I have high hopes for her — right now I’m getting much-needed Maura energy.
Aaron pulls Sharon for a chat, and they confess that they both like each other’s independence. They make out, and all of Sharon’s foundation is smudged onto Aaron’s face, making it look like he snogged a powdered donut. Not to be upstaged, Jake and Liberty share their first kiss and Jake immediately farts in victory. Once again, I say: This is your man, Liberty?
Things are looking bleak for Hugo, who has been pied off by every woman here. Don’t they want a man who can run a kick-ass game of kickball and then get them a coffee from the faculty lounge? Seemingly not, but Hugo makes a move on Faye in a bid to stay in the villa, to which she responds dispassionately.
It’s date time! Faye is chosen to go with newbie Liam, and Sharon goes with new guy Chuggs, which apparently is short for “cuddles and hugs” (something he will not be getting during his time in the villa). Faye, in her own words, goes to Cougarville and salivates over 21-year-old Liam’s height. Chuggs says he wants a best friend, but Sharon crushes those dreams by telling him about her makeup transfer with Aaron. Nevertheless, the couples enter the villa hand-in-hand. Finally learning from The Art of War, are we, ladies? Liam then reveals to the boys that he also has a foot fetish, causing Jake to scream so loudly the Majorcan locals have cause for concern. Chuggs and Hugo claim to know each other from rugby, but it seems like Liam and Jake should have recognized each other from the Foot Fetish Anonymous Facebook group.
The next day, Chuggs and Liam put the moves on every woman in the villa. Faye, who has forgotten Hugo’s name, puts on a gallon of self-tanner in an effort to impress Liam; meanwhile, he tells Chloe that it’s difficult to find size 13 shoes because he is literally Tall Girl.
At the recoupling, there are the predictable matches — Kaz/Toby, Jake/Liberty, Sharon/Aaron — while Chloe and Faye are the wildcards. Faye gives into her primal desires and picks Liam, leaving Chloe to choose between Chuggs, Hugo, and Brad. Chloe, in a bid to gain the British public’s trust, picks Hugo in a friendship couple. But Brad and Chuggs aren’t out just yet: New girl Rachel comes in and will pick one of them to save. Time for them to pretend they didn’t just say their type was blonde hair and blue eyes!