TV & Movies

Love Island Moves Fast, But Lucinda Moves Faster

Jason Okundaye discusses this week’s re-couplings & the Danny racism scandal.

Love Island on ITV
'Love Island'/ITV

What the hell was going on with Love Island this past week? Honestly I’m not even sure where to begin with discussing the latest events because there seems to be more nonsense to cover than usual. There was a lot riding on week three, which represented the last few days of coronavirus restrictions before “freedom day” on July 19. Moving forward, the options for how to fill our evenings have expanded beyond refreshing ITV Hub every five minutes to keep Love Island in sync with your Twitter timeline. Now, while it’s unlikely you’ll find me anywhere else but huddled over my laptop at 9 p.m. until the end of August, week three has presented more moments than ever that left me thinking, “Why am I actually watching this?”

Let’s jump straight into Brad’s exit. Events move fast in Love Island but it appears Lucinda moves even faster.

The dramatics of the exit were some of the most confusing scenes in reality TV history. First off, we had Faye believing that she was on Faye Academy rather than Love Island because her main character syndrome was at peak levels this episode. Despite being a totally unrelated party with no romantic investment in the situation, Faye seemed to produce the most tears of any islander. Faye went on to explain that Brad was her best friend in the villa, a dynamic totally lost on me (and I assume most of us), as the strongest memory I have of Faye and Brad’s relationship was her dropping the c-bomb on him after he humiliated her by effectively branding her the ugliest in the villa.

The dramatics of [Brad’s] exit were some of the most confusing scenes in reality TV history. First off, we had Faye believing that she was on Faye Academy rather than Love Island because her main character syndrome was at peak levels this episode.

Faye’s major grievance, however, was that Lucinda had chosen not to leave with Brad despite describing him as her “dream man.” Crying into her hands Faye said, “you’re not meant to be here for opportunities,” of course referencing the possible business motivations Lucinda may have had for staying in the villa. It appears these motivations are now so obvious that contestants are scrutinising them to the same extent that viewers are.

The meme of Theo’s famous line from season three – “if she really likes him then she should go as well really” – was working overtime this week, but the pressure of expectation for Lucinda to chase Brad out the door seemed ridiculous to me considering they had only been partnered up for a few days. I must say, though, she gave a knockout performance of “a woman in mourning.” The black hoodie and lines like “I feel numb, I feel like this isn’t real life, we were having Special K and now he’s gone” were convincing enough to make me think Brad had drowned in the pool in a freak accident or something. Then, a day or so later, she was confessing her feelings for Aaron. If a PrettyLittleThing deal doesn’t work out in the end, I’m sure Eastenders or perhaps Hollyoaks will have vacancies.

Having said all this about Faye, I must clarify that her main character syndrome is perhaps one of the best things about Love Island right now – as is her relationship with Teddy. With the obvious investment imbalance between Jake and Liberty reading like a slow-moving car crash (I’m waiting to properly dive into it once the inevitable Casa Amor heartbreak occurs), Faye and Teddy, by contrast, appear to represent the bumps, insecurities, and reassurances of a very modern romance, with Faye’s animation appropriately countered by Teddy’s cool stillness. As journalist Chanté Joseph writes “Faye and Teddy’s relationship is so perfect. Loud and eccentric gf and low key bf that never speaks.” For those of us who fail at being quietly sexy and mysterious and are instead terminally online and seeking attention, a man as collected and grounded as Teddy is more than we could ever ask for.

For those of us who fail at being quietly sexy and mysterious and are instead terminally online and seeking attention, a man as collected and grounded as Teddy is more than we could ever ask for.

I must of course also mention our fashion queen Millie and Welsh hunk Liam’s blossoming romance. It wasn’t until this week’s re-coupling, when AJ threatened to cause chaos by picking Liam, that I realised just how much of a standout couple they were. Both were somewhat overshadowed in their bombshell introductions – Millie by the more attention commanding Lucinda and Liam by the simple fact that he entered with a man named “Cuddles and Hugs” – but they have both come out on top. Millie and Liam’s mutual mocking of Lucinda’s torturous reaaaaaalllyyyyyy?’s made for some of the most amusing but also tender viewing this season. As long as there aren’t any curveballs thrown their way, they’re the most obvious finalists so far, and perhaps the most universally likeable couple we’ve seen so far.

Now, of course, I can’t write about week three without mentioning perhaps the greatest incident of contestant casting controversy since trophy hunter Ollie in winter Love Island. The arrival of Danny Bibby initially prompted excitement as it appeared national sweetheart Kaz could finally be within a shot of love. However, an unearthed social media comment that revealed Danny had casually flung around the n-word instantly haunted our viewing of that date, and led to calls for Danny to be removed from the villa. To be clear, I supported those calls. It’s been reported that Love Island producers conduct a sweep of contestants’ social media profiles before they enter the villa, so I find it truly baffling that viewers were able to spot the use of a racial slur on his profile and their team could not.

The decision to play Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “N- In Paris” at the beginning of Sunday’s episode felt like a slap in the face to Black viewers who continue to invest in this series and revive its driest episodes with vibrant social media commentary.

Danny released an apology statement from inside the villa (which can be read in full here) but the clear double standard this highlighted with regard to contestant conduct was aggravating. Black contestant Sherif from season five has spoken out against Danny’s casting, comparing it to his removal in the middle of the night from the villa because of what he describes as an accident involving Molly-Mae. (The runner up later confirmed that there were no hard feelings between herself and Sherif).

If this wasn’t bad enough, the decision to play Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “N- In Paris” at the beginning of Sunday’s episode felt like a slap in the face to Black viewers who continue to invest in this series and revive its driest episodes with vibrant social media commentary. I’m hoping that ofcom’s lines are blown up with this and that Danny is soon exited. His conflict with Black contestant Aaron was genuinely scary to watch, with or without the context of him using racial slurs, and his passive aggression and entitlement over Lucinda – a girl he met mere days before – raised all sorts of red flags.

Audiences aren’t likely to forget Danny’s scandal any time soon, and are even less likely to be forgiving if the producers continue to sit on their hands over the issue.

It’s perhaps this week’s saving grace that, with Danny choosing Lucinda in the re-coupling, Aaron was free to re-friendship-couple with Kaz, because there was a version of events where Kaz may have been sent home on the basis that someone who had used a racial slur in the past hadn’t picked her. Had that occurred, ITV would’ve had a huge problem on their hands. And they may so still. Audiences aren’t likely to forget Danny’s scandal any time soon, and are even less likely to be forgiving if the producers continue to sit on their hands over the issue.