7 Times 'Love Island' 2019 Was Straight Up Shakespearean
Be it astrology, Ariana Grande, or adult ball pits, I consider it my moral duty to unashamedly enjoy every form of escapism that middle-aged men are quick to label a sign of the apocalypse. Nobody should waste their words justifying their love of reality TV, for example, just to satisfy a group of people who are deluded enough to think they can beat Serena Williams at a game of tennis. I'll eat my cheese and ketchup sandwiches in peace, thank you very much.
When it comes to Love Island, it is what it is. And what it is is pure artistry. Pure literature. Pure Shakespeare. Love Island 2019 has been theatrically choreographed and beautifully expressed, and I can only assume that the producers are running the show with one tab open on Twelfth Night SparkNotes, and the other on a Google search for: “How many times can someone say ‘young lady’ on a reality TV show before it's justifiable to turn off their mic altogether?”
Flowing beneath Love Island’s shiny surface is a deep undercurrent of Shakespearean poetry. Middle-aged men, lend me your ear, for here are seven Shakespearean moments that have been borne out before our very eyes in Love Island 2019.
1. “I’m tired, I’m tired!” (Ovie) / “Lord, what fools these mortals be!" (Puck, 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream')
Sweet, sweet Ovie. The professional basketball came here for an all-expenses-paid holiday and you lot are ruining it with this “love” nonsense. So, when Anna tried to juggle both Ovie and Jordan, our boy snapped. Sliding off the day bed with exclamations of “I’m tired, I’m tired!” he declares he's done and tells Jordan “You can have her bro”. With his flowery shirts and impressive hat collection, Ovie is the Puck of this series: the loveable jester situated both inside and outside of the action. Leaning back on his sun lounger, hat on chest, and ice lolly in mouth, Ovie is no mere mortal. Just as Puck understands that the lovers exist for entertainment and expresses “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” as they find themselves in his forest, Ovie also despairs at these islanders and their foolishly mortal love.
2. “Why are yer asking her dat?” (Maura) / “Love is merely a madness” (Rosalind, 'As You Like It')
Maura came in and single handedly saved Love Island from eight weeks of the contestants ballroom dancing around the business of actually entertaining us with some dramz. When it comes to Shakespearean allegories, who else could Maura be but the independent, strong-willed, and resilient Rosalind from As You Like It? Maura, like Rosalind, is the master of her own destiny. And, just like Rosalind, while Maura is aware of the foolishness of love, she also teaches her fellow islanders how to carry themselves in romantic entanglements. So, when gentle, precious Amy approaches the girls for reassurance about Curtis, and Lucie asks “But does he love you?”, only Maura could answer with “Why are yer asking her dat? He doesn’t!” Maura is here to deliver some home truths: when it comes to the island, love is merely a madness.
3. “What comes around goes around” (Yewande) / “Something wicked this way comes” (Witch, 'Macbeth')
Yewande deserved better. After receiving a grand total of six minutes' screen-time and having to sit on Danny to guarantee the cameras couldn’t miss her, Yewande was rudely cast aside for a new islander. Yewande foresaw Danny’s downfall with the scientific precision you’d expect from a, y’know, scientist. With the sweetest smile she could muster, she wished him well and told him: “What comes around goes around.” Yewande was part of the villa’s most powerful coven. Covens get a lot of bad press, but really, they’re just an example of gals supporting gals. Just like Macbeth’s three witches, Amber, Anna, and Yewande will defend their own to the bitter end, ready to fight any accusation of being “chaldish.” Whether it’s scheming to show Michael what he’s missing or comforting each other on the terrace, the girls have each other’s backs. Yewande’s prophetic words to Danny spelt out his destiny. Plotting around their cauldron with talk of toil and trouble, Macbeth’s three witches act as portents for the tragedy ahead. For Danny, something wicked this way came in the form of a swift exit first chance the public got.
4. “It will be interesting to see if she’s all mouth or not” (Tom) / “She knows the heat of a luxurious bed” (Claudio, 'Much Ado About Nothing')
The most iconic moment of Love Island to date had echoes of two well-worn Shakespearean motifs: eavesdropping and slut-shaming. Our plucky heroine Maura, who has proudly flown the flag for sex positivity, was invited to enjoy a night in the hideaway and asked Tom to join her. A man so eminently forgettable he could still be in the villa and nobody would be any the wiser. The only thing he will be remembered for is uttering the phrase: “It will be interesting to see if she’s all mouth.” Tom is Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing. Immature and weak-willed. Claudio disrespects his love interest Hero by saying, “She knows the heat of a luxurious bed.” But lo! Back on the island, Maura is in earshot and tells Tom that the only luxurious bed he’ll be finding himself in is the spare room at his mum’s house when he arrives back in the UK next week.
5. “I know that there could be something more” (Lucie) / “And even for that do I love you the more” (Helena, 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream')
Lucie had some real bad luck this season. First, she coupled up with Joe, and every time he stroked her tousled mermaid hair, the UK gave a collective shudder. Then there was the lukewarm romance with George in Casa Amor. But saddest of all was the moment where Lucie realised that she had unresolved feelings for Tommy Fury. Watching her weep in Jordan's arms after Tommy and Molly-Mae made things official was pretty tough, and drew some parallels with Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, who is besotted with a man that loves another. Helena chased Demetrius through the woods, but his eyes were kept firmly on Hermia. Let's hope things work out for Lucie and whoever she choses as her Lysander outside the villa.
6. “Good connection, it's a ten” (Curtis) / “By my life this is my lady’s hand” (Malvolio, 'Twelfth Night')
Curtis, oh Curtis. Ballroom dancer turned barista. Curtis was caught in a key theme of Twelfth Night: mistaken identity. As he kisses Arabella in the blindfolded kissing challenge, he confidently announces “Good connection, it’s a ten”, sure it’s Amy. Similarly, Malvolio is the subject of a cruel set-up as he is given a letter which he thinks is from the lady of the house declaring her love for him. Of course, both scenarios end in disaster.
7. "It is what it is” / “What’s done is done” (Lady Macbeth, 'Macbeth')
And of course, the phrase that launched a thousand memes. In the face of darkest tragedy, when there’s no other way to express deep regret, the islanders borrow from Lady Macbeth and announce “it is what it is.”