"This week, I had my mind completely changed about Love Island."



There are few elements in life that will make you feel more as snidely superior as publicly stating that you’re above consuming whichever trashy reality TV series your fellow humans are currently addicted to.

For me, and for so many other people who like to think their TV tastes skew a little more high-brow, one of the recent shows we like to look down upon while polishing our halos is Love Island.

There’s just never been a hint of intrigue for me to be found within the premise of this show, which is explained as being about “a cast of hot young singles who have come looking for a summer of love and romance in Majorca. The winning couple will leave the island with £50,000.”

For an excessive chunk of the time that this show has been on-air, a legion of people comprising mainly of my friends and colleagues have been peer-pressuring me to join the Love Island cult.

The Spill is Mamamia’s daily entertainment and pop culture podcast, listen to hosts Laura Brodnik and Kee Reece battle it out about Love Island and Lena Dunham.

Their sales pitch for the show set it up as the ultimate guilty pleasure watch, a series brimming with cheeky youngins with banging bodies who converge in a lush setting so that they can get their hearts repeatedly broken, all while vying for more social media followers and setting up some sweet spon-con deals.

It all seemed like a hotbed of minor exploitation and many tedious scripted reality moments, patched together with some poppy music and a premise designed for viewers to root against certain bikini-clad cast members as they are yanked off the show.


Now, call me old-fashioned, but I prefer my guilty pleasure TV shows to come with a side of teenage vampires and without an extra helping of internal angst over the damaged mental health of a ‘Love Islander’.

Of course, there is also the second school of thought around the validity and allure of Love Island and that is the show’s capacity to shine a spotlight on different relationships and the people who fall into them, adding an element of social discourse to the show that was essentially built to be a fantasy.

To this premise, I will offer up the same reply I like to hand out to people who tell me with a straight face that an apple has the capacity to give them a caffeine jolt which rivals a coffee. Which is “you, my friend, are a dirty liar”.

That is, until recently, when the self-appointed high-brow TV watchers of the world (including myself) were served up a totally different perspective on why so many viewers find this show so compelling and even more surprisingly, comforting.

This perspective was presented by writer and actress Lena Dunham in a piece for The Guardian concerning the current season of Love Island UK.

In the piece, entitled Lena Dunham on Love Island: ‘I’m asking the same question they do – can you love after hurt? the actress, producer and author talks through her gripping obsession with Love Island, reflecting on how the reality series prompted her to critically examine her own past relationships, even seeing herself reflected back through some of the women in the villa.

lena dunham apology
"Lena Dunham has written a searing opinion piece on Love Island." Source: Getty.

Through her writing, Dunham explained that she had been fully "primed" to fall for the series, explaining that once you understood her recent relationship turmoil, the allure of Love Island would become crystal clear.

"Nineteen months ago, I left my first long-term relationship and endured a public breakup," she wrote. " I immediately hurled myself at someone new, an explosive and uncomfortable five months, during which I was briefly engaged after being proposed to with the lace of a Timberland boot while snowed into my parents’ apartment. I quickly realised I wasn’t safe with this person and moved on to someone lovely, someone who took good care of me as I licked my wounds."


For each broken relationship story she shared, Dunham likened herself to one of the women on the show, clearly stating that she saw something more than a guilty pleasure or a troubled reality TV series. She just saw her own world, albeit a fantasized and accelerated version of it.

I am now less inclined to sneer at the show after reading the thought's that went through Lena's head as she consumed it, right up until the moment she said it gave her real hope, writing "I hope I meet someone who is OK with an infertile, chubby, controlling fantasist who has made a lot of mistakes but can’t stop trying. I hope I can show my children what it means to love with intention, without losing oneself."

I haven't fallen quite far enough off my TV high horse to admit that I'll become Love Island's next biggest fan, but I do now believe it deserves it's place in the TV landscape.

For more stories like this, you can follow Mamamia Entertainment Editor Laura Brodnik on Facebook.  You can also visit our newsletter page and sign up to “TV and Movies”  for a backstage pass to the best movies, TV shows and celebrity interviews (see one of her newsletters here).