Trouble in Paradise?

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Tara Melia discusses the validity of Love Island’s matchmaking techniques or if it’s a desperate claim for fame.

Love Island 2019. With only three couples still together, just eight weeks following the finale, it seems to be the most unsuccessful series yet. It is also, interestingly, the first season where an ‘OG’ couple didn’t win, though there weren’t any to choose from. Where has it all gone wrong over the last five years? Obviously, we can’t expect every relationship to be successful, but over recent years it seems fewer couples are going the distance.

Series one provided great success stories, including an on-show proposal from Jon to Hannah, and Luis and Cally’s baby! Though neither couples stayed together, it excited us to see what could happen next, and series two did not disappoint. Nathan and Cara, our ‘OG’ couple of the season also welcomed a baby and tied the knot. We watched Alex and Olivia blossom to become an all-time favourite power couple, marrying in 2018. An argument in series one where Jess was called fake suggested some were acting, but nobody anticipated the potential for fame, so it seemed harmless.

In series three cracks began showing, as contestants were seemingly entering with the goal of fame, utilising their year of relevance to impact the industry before being dwarfed by the next batch. Although Dom and Jess got married (on TV!), it seemed so staged nobody really cared. Montana was exposed for chasing the limelight by Alex, who claimed she wasn’t willing to sacrifice her career for their relationship. Our ‘OG’ couple and winners, Amber and Kem, who split after just five months, attributed their break-up to demanding schedules, schedules gained by ‘finding love’ on television.

The trend from this series onwards was for couples to make it official and public after the show, so series four ended positively – 9 couples. But a year later, none are still together. It seems they became aware of their importance to the world as a couple, an opportunity for fame and attention. Jack and Dani, again the ‘OG’ winners, took advantage of their popularity, even recording a TV special, but split four months later. As Dani and her ex-boyfriend reconciled, rumours swirled, and we began questioning if it was fake all along.

Going into series five, the distrust lingered, but we remained hopeful, watching the lovely Amy fall in love with Curtis. But her heart was broken as Curtis’ eyes wandered. Yewande began to open up with Danny, only for him to choose Arabella instead, and Jordan decided just days after becoming official with Anna that he wanted to explore a connection with India. This year’s theme was not love, but heartbreak.

The most shattering moment was Amber walking into the villa alone to find Michael standing with Joanna. She was heartbroken, and so were we. Michael continued playing games, pushing her away and then running right back after Joanna’s dumping, but thankfully Greg came to save her from further heartbreak. Amber’s new romance was well deserved, and they won the crown! But we were wrong about Greg. He dumped Amber by text five weeks after the show ended to focus on his career. Ironic, considering that the show, and his display of ‘love’, was what gave him his career in the first place.

Adding insult to injury was the revelation during the government inquiry that only four of the main cast of 2019 had applied, and the rest were scouted or came through agents. We can guess that scouts aren’t choosing contestants because they’re lonely and need help finding love. Instead, it’s because they see an opportunity for fame and fortune that ITV takes a cut of for three years. Everyone knew it was happening, but not to this extent. It now seems so manipulated it’s almost impossible to relate and trust them.

But, maybe we’re too cynical now? There was a public outpouring of hate towards Molly-Mae, who was branded as fake during her relationship with Tommy. Despite being the closest to an ‘OG’ couple this series, they lost their expected win, probably due to public perception. Yet, they seem to be the year’s strongest couple, already planning to move in together. We’ve trusted some too much, and others not enough – this year has proved we really have no idea.

Tara Melia