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Image / Living / Culture

Why are this season’s ‘Love Island’ men the absolute worst?


by Sarah Finnan
08th Jul 2021
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Only in its second week of the season, the ‘Love Island’ men have already made themselves some enemies… both in, and out of the villa.

Men are trash. It’s a statement we’ve all heard thrown about in conversation at one point or another. Yes, it’s a generalisation, but there are certain people that give weight to the sentiment and it seems that many of this year’s male Love Island contestants are amongst them. 

That’s not to say that the female contestants are completely faultless, they’re definitely not saints and the show does tend to attract the kind of applicants who like to scheme and flirt and stir up drama. But, is it just me, or are all the men the worst this season? 

Now almost a fortnight in, the reality dating series has already brought quite a few serious issues to light, and unfortunately, it doesn’t look like much has been learned from past seasons of the show. Already resorting to some not-so-nice tactics, last week hinted that producers are still very much up to their same old tricks… this week solidified that as fact. 

Liar, liar, pants on fire? 

While in previous seasons, contestants entered the villa on their best behaviour, I’m not sure the same can be said of this year. Doing very little to conceal their true colours, there’s already been plenty of lying going on behind the scenes – the boys being the biggest culprits. 

I could use any of the male contestants as an example, but let’s start with Jake. Why do I get the feeling that he’s going to break all of our collective hearts in one fell swoop? Coupled up with Liberty from the very first day, the two seemed to be getting on like a house on fire. Giving her every indication that he’s into pursuing what they have, Jake could be heard telling the boys a very different story… many of whom were just as surprised as we were to learn he was having second thoughts. Admitting to Hugo that he’s not 100% sure if Liberty is for him, his comments seemed to genuinely surprise the PE teacher who later confessed that he was slightly jealous of the bond Jake and Lib had managed to establish so quickly. 

While it’s clear that many of the boys are being two-faced – itself a highly gendered term that’s regularly used to negatively describe women’s behaviour –  what’s interesting is that not only is no one really surprised about it, but no one is calling it out either. Sure, Hugo was a little taken aback to hear Jake admit his head could be turned but he never probed him any further or questioned whether the matter had been discussed with Liberty.

Consider if the situation had been reversed for a moment, though. What if Liberty was the one with mixed feelings and she was filmed discussing it with the girls behind Jake’s back? I have no doubts that she would be completely vilified for ever voicing her concerns and people would probably accuse her of leading Jake on…. but isn’t that exactly what he’s doing to her? 

The girls seem to be wearing their feelings on their sleeves this season and if there’s something that annoys them, they speak out about it – admittedly not always in the best way, but at least they’re being honest. In this situation, and despite the common misconception that only women are two-faced, it’s the men who are being conniving here. And it all seems very calculated too.   

It’s totally normal for people to have doubts and question things in a relationship, but what’s not ok is for Jake to be chattering about it to everyone but Liberty. She remained none the wiser about his supposed inner turmoil until much later (exact timeline unknown… time is a made-up concept in the Love Island villa) when Jake finally told her that he’d be open to getting to know other people. Something he admitted to her after the two new boys, Liam and Chuggs, had either been coupled up or had been booted off. A little convenient that he’d come clean only when there was no threat to himself, if you ask me. 

Perhaps you need another example? No problem, Brad has given us plenty of fodder for conversation. Mugged off (as the cool kids say) by Chloe in the last recoupling, Brad was one of two “single” boys left in the villa. Vying for new girl Rachel’s affections alongside Chuggs, he ultimately secured the upper hand after he made it clear to her that she was the first girl to really catch his eye so far. Practically falling over himself to win her affections, his teary display in response to being saved definitely softened him in my estimations. 

That was short-lived though and last night’s episode showed him recycling his tried-and-tested chat up lines on Lucinda. Essentially telling her the exact same thing he’d told Rachel just hours prior, she overheard the whole exchange from the terrace… and yes, there were more tears. Maybe Brad somehow forgot that there were cameras dotted all over the place watching his every move? 

Type on paper 

A show that’s as famous for its catchphrases as it is Iain Stirling’s comedic voiceover, contestants can regularly be heard discussing what their “type on paper” is. Detailing many of the ideal attributes their perfect partner will have, responses to the above question often vary but they do usually have one thing in common – that being a firm focus on physical appearance.

Yet further proof that the show’s producers are out for ratings more than anything else, challenges are usually orchestrated so as to create drama, and week one’s game of beer pong was topped by a celebratory week two couples quiz… one which facilitated some rather nasty behaviour on the boys’ part. 

In this particular challenge, couples were split into two groups with the boys sitting on one side and the girls sitting on the other. Questions were then put to the group with each person having to write their answer on a small individual blackboard they held in their hands. Hugo and Chloe acted as quizmasters, asking each couple to reveal what they had written down with the aim being to show how well they knew the person they were coupled up with. 

Two questions stand out in my mind though. One of them was put to the boys and asked what cosmetic procedures their partners had had. The other was aimed at the girls and asked what their partner’s biggest turn-off was. While none of the girls have been elusive in admitting to having work done, the first question did seem to draw unnecessary attention to their appearances… all on a show that’s already fuelled by people’s insecurities. 

Highlighting the unrealistic beauty standards that women are held to in modern society, several of the girls said that they had had boob jobs, lip filler, or botox. In fact, Jake assumed Liberty had already had botox at just 21 years old. I’m very much of the “your body, your choice” belief, and women should be allowed to do as they please without judgement or stigma, but the challenge did nothing if not emphasise the huge dichotomy that exists between men and women/how they’re expected to look. 

As for the latter question, well it’s clear that show bosses included that to stir the pot a bit… something they most definitely succeeded in doing. While most boys responded with non-physical attributes (b*tchiness, being too serious, etc.), others listed out appearance-based preferences with Hugo’s “fakeness” comment really striking a chord (especially in light of the above question). Putting his foot in it, albeit without any malicious intent, he was but an unfortunate pawn in the whole thing and it’s clear that a wider conversation surrounding body image would be needed to fully explain why the girls were upset. 

However, while there was a huge reaction to Hugo’s comments, many of the other boys got away scot-free. Several of the other contestants had made much more damning statements but very few eyebrows were raised in response. Why was no one enraged by Liam’s admission that he’d happily go after a taken woman? His blasé admission to Faye suggested that not only did he see nothing wrong with it, but that he was somehow proud of himself for it. He saw it as “going after what he wanted”, when in reality, it’s a clear depicticion of the toxic masculinity that’s often allowed to continue unchecked within the villa walls. He deems it manly, but chasing someone in a relationship actually borders more on stalking.   

Next on the chopping block there’s Aaron, who the internet has had particular beef with in recent days. First arising suspicion with a conversation he had with Sharon about starting a family, she revealed that she’s not keen to have kids with someone who isn’t willing to split the workload 50/50. A fair point and again, she was honest and upfront about her feelings. Aaron felt otherwise and admitted that he really wants a big family. For some people, this is a major dealbreaker but instead of communicating that with his partner, Aaron’s first instinct was to pie her off in front of the boys.

Using her career aspirations as a way to put her down, he told the lads that he felt she was “scared of the idea of a guy wanting to just be the main breadwinner”. Criticising her for being too “career-driven” and not wanting to be a housewife, many pointed out the hypocrisy of such a statement… especially given the fact that it’s clear Aaron has high career goals himself. 

Later trying to break it off with Sharon, he put it down to her “fiery” personality being a red flag for him. Previously getting up in arms with Hugo over his “fake” comments, Aaron claims not to have liked how she confronted him in a group setting but viewers were quick to call bullsh*t on this excuse, saying that he was just using it as a cover for his fragile masculinity being threatened. Essentially gaslighting Sharon for having an emotional reaction to something that bothered her, Aaron saying this was a red flag for him was in fact, a major red flag for all of us. 

Tuesday night’s episode was a reminder of why people often find fault with the show. We could go on and on about the lack of diversity, the incessant need to cast only certain body types, or producers’ comments re including LGBTQI+ contestants but we’ll save that for another day because it’s abundantly clear that the show is not without its problems. 

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