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‘Love Island’ is proof that the lads holiday mentality is toxic and has to go


By Sarah Finnan
06th Aug 2021

From Lifted Entertainment

‘Love Island’ is proof that the lads holiday mentality is toxic and has to go

The 'Love Island' drama has been coming to a head over the past week or so, but it's the boys' behaviour that continues to shock – all a byproduct of the toxic lads holiday mentality.

Like many others, I’ve been glued to the Love Island drama recently, paying it more attention than I do my own in-real-life relationships. But, entertaining as the islanders’ onscreen antics are, it’s very hard to digest some of the boys’ behaviour – which admittedly was probably always abhorrent but got pulled to the surface on their “lads holiday” to Casa Amor. 

This year has been a bit of a slow burner, but what most viewers cottoned on to fairly quickly was that this season’s bout of male contestants are, in fact, the absolute worst. Four weeks on and little has changed. If anything, we have even less sympathy for them now than we did then. Proving themselves to be sneaky, untrustworthy and just generally very slimy, the boys seem willing to say whatever it takes to get them out of the hot seat… whether they mean it or not. 

Peer pressure 

They’re all as culpable as one other (save for maybe Teddy who genuinely seems to be one of the few good ‘uns), and what’s more worrying is the fact that they all encourage bad behaviour. 

Not only that, but they all put the blame for their own misgivings on one another too. Many people have been pointing the finger at Jake for his role in the chaos and though he’s definitely partly at fault, some of the islanders seem to be using him as a scapegoat.

They give vague throwaway explanations like “the boys said that…”, or “the lads told me I should give it a chance…”, thereby shifting the onus away from themselves. They never specify who exactly they’re referring to, but it’s enough to suggest that they were given a helping hand down the primrose path to destruction. 

As grown men (debatable), it’s almost laughable that one encouraging word from a supposed friend is enough for them to justify what they already know to be a bad decision. Which is probably the worst part about their behaviour – they know their actions are questionable (well most of them do… Toby is a whole other kettle of fish), but they push their conscience aside and choose to act on impulse. Shared responsibility does not equal no responsibility. If anything, they’re all at fault for everything one another does.

That’s not to let Jake completely off the hook. In many ways, he was the catalyst for the boys treating their trip as a “lads holiday” in the first place – itself a highly problematic concept as it plays into the toxic ideology of “boys will be boys” and “what happens in Casa Amor, stays in Casa Amor”. 

Some viewers have questioned whether Jake was playing a game and purposely trying to stir up trouble so he and Lib would be in a better position to win the money… but honestly? Do we really think he’s that tactical? He’s had the cameras pointed at him for long enough now that it’s probably hard to remember they’re there. It seems far more likely that he was hyping the boys up because he knew that he himself would never get away with such behaviour. The only one in the villa to have an actual girlfriend, if he acted as the boys did he’d almost certainly be given the boot (both by Liberty and by the public), so he settled for living vicariously through his fellow islanders instead. 

Truth or dare

Jake may have been the first one to equate Casa Amor with a lads holiday, but it’s a comparison the rest of the boys were more than happy to get on board with. And while the group initially started off strong, the excitement of a different setting and a whole new batch of potential partners only fuelled the idea that they were essentially footloose and fancy-free.

Most of the original contestants gave the impression that they were happy where they were – Jake was settled with Liberty, Teddy claimed it would take “a lot” to sway him, and Liam was in a good place with Millie – but that quickly changed when the group suggested playing Truth or Dare… which let’s face it, we always knew would end in carnage.

Giving many of the boys the excuse they needed to misbehave (cue Tyler saying, “I’m a game player so I’m not going to shy away from it”) the dares ranged from “kiss the girl that you find the most attractive” to “snog the person that you want to share a bed with” and, as expected, lots of very interesting decisions were made. 

As Toby so eloquently put it, “It’s so hard because they’re all so beautiful and who am I to shut that down and not explore and find the one?” He makes a valid point but the way the boys went about “exploring” was shady, to say the least.

No one is disputing their right to get to know the new group of girls, but they could have done so whilst still being respectful to whoever they were already coupled up with. That’s not what happened though and the boys rationalised their behaviour under the pretence of being a team player – belittling other people’s feelings when questioned on why they did x,y or z. 

Meanwhile, over in the other villa, the girls “kept it very pleasant” and got to know the new bombshells with a much tamer round of Never Have I Ever. Maybe it wasn’t as entertaining to watch, but it showed that the girls were being considerate of the boys’ feelings. They didn’t want to do anything that would hurt their partners so they opted for silly ice-breakers over raunchy full-contact “games”. 

Sweet nothings

You might think that the lads holiday mentality ended at Casa Amor, but that’s not the case at all and watching how the boys have handled the fallout of their actions since returning to the villa has been very telling. 

A thick veil of secrecy hangs just above their heads and many of the boys become very defensive when called out on their actions – a clear sign that they know they’re in the wrong. Tyler is perhaps the biggest culprit for whispering sweet nothings in girls’ ears… but that’s exactly what they are; nothings. Actions speak louder than words, and he’s shown that the only thing he’s full of is himself. 

Though it was still very early days between him and Kaz, he had reassured her beyond a shadow of a doubt, so much so that she didn’t feel there was any reason to question his loyalty… until the infamous postcard arrived, of course. Then prompted to admit that he had pretty much filled her head with nonsense from the moment he entered the villa, it’s clear that everything Tyler does is very calculated. He dropped Kaz at the first chance, then expected her to wait while he decided who he liked more. 

All of his subsequent conversations with Kaz since returning from Casa Amor have seen him try to reverse the situation, basically gaslighting her for his own behaviour. His reassurances were a way of reeling Kaz in until something better came along. Then when she didn’t pick him at the latest recoupling, he decided that he wanted what he couldn’t have so he tried to reopen that door, so to speak… also taking it upon himself to break things off with Matt on Kaz’s behalf. 

Grand romantic flop

We couldn’t discuss the toxicity of the lads holiday mentality and not at least mention Liam, the guiltiest of all perpetrators and another one full of nothing but hot air. Pushed to “follow his heart” by Jake who seemed very intent he get to know Lillie, Liam had us all collectively shouting at our screens while at Casa Amor. Sharing a bed with another girl, but not actively engaging in the chase (according to his version of events), Liam’s behaviour highlighted just how lines often get blurred when a group of lads go away together. 

The other islanders seemed content to cast a blind eye to what was happening – even Toby who claimed that Millie was his best girl friend in the villa, told him to do what he had to do. Not that we’d encourage anyone to take advice from Toby, but it’s worrying to see how little loyalty the boys had to their friends when they weren’t around. We all know what happened next; Liam and Lillie kissed three times, he returned to the villa alone, Lillie filled the group in on what happened and plenty of drama ensued. 

All of that was pretty heavy watching, then Liam laid it on even thicker with his grand romantic gesture during the week. Some people tried to see the humanity in the moment but it was actually quite manipulative if you think about it. How could Millie possibly stay mad at him with everyone else swooning around her?

It’s important to realise that Liam basically backed Millie into a corner by deciding to deliver that speech to her in public though. He knew that she would be more likely to react in a positive way if she was surrounded by the rest of the group, but the whole thing was completely unfair. Call me a cynic, but his speech was very “poor me” and he never actually apologised to Millie once during his spiel.

Jake practically burrowed holes in the back of Millie’s head trying to see her reaction, as did many of the other contestants who continually turned to check if she was buying it… which she kinda was.

Liam claimed not to be expecting her to just click her fingers and forget what he did, but did he really mean that? The speech, though nice and all, gave the impression of being a way for him to just fast track his way out of the dog house… don’t ask for permission, beg for forgiveness. Isn’t that the lads holiday mantra?