Love Island, like all dating shows, is a curious creature.
The premise of the reality TV series (the UK edition) is that a group of attractive, chiselled single people get thrown on an island in Spain where the challenge is to find ‘love’. Love, that’s incentivised with a £50,000 (almost AUD 90,000) prize, of course.
The show has received some serious criticism in its time. Most infamously, it has been at the centre of conversations about the psychological strain experienced by reality TV contestants. It has also come under fire for presenting unrealistic ideals of beauty to audiences.
But this weekend, that is not what has brought Love Island into the headlines. Rather, it’s Lena Dunham and her obsession with the series.
In an article published by The Guardian, the Girls creator wrote about how her love life is connected to her views on the reality TV series. Mainly because of how relatable the experiences of the contestants actually are (honestly, hear her out).
“the deeper we go, the more we start to see ourselves,” she wrote.
“We may not be an air hostess from Worthing, West Sussex, but who among us hasn’t felt like Amy, the islander whose romance with ballroom dancer Curtis ended in betrayal…”
Dunham went on to point out incidents on the island that hit at romantic sore spots for almost all of us.
(PSA: It doesn’t matter if you’re not familiar with the names mentioned below.)
“When Curtis finally chose Maura, he used the half-assed professions that the island girls accept as love: ‘I do like ya. I do want to get to know ya. You have an interesting side to ya,’” she wrote.
“I, too, have sat with a smile baked on to my face as I got a watered-down version of affection.
“I’ve heard what I wanted to hear before, and I hope I never do it again.”
The writer and actress shared that nature of the series results in an accelerated experience for the contestants; their “love is sped up”. And although “mediated”, as Dunham put it, there is still pain on display here.
In this light-hearted viewing, Dunham sees her own heartbreak reflected back at her. Assumedly, in analysing the warped reality of these reality TV stars, she’s also assessing her own experience.
“I am asking myself the same questions they ask themselves on Love Island, really. Can you love again after hurt? What does partnership mean? And what does it mean to know someone if you don’t know yourself?”
Quite a profound thought for some trashy TV… but it makes a lot of sense.