AThough the weather suggests otherwise, summer has officially begun, signaled by Love Island’s EDM banger of a resounding musical theme on TVs across Britain six nights a week at 9 p.m. ET. Unfortunately, this series has been mediocre to say the least so far. There is little chemistry between the islanders and the stakes are low; the biggest plot twist was that Netflix’s rival Too Hot to Handle, having initially been swept away, turned out to be more entertaining.
Even so, my eyes were glued to the screen – my phone screen, that is. Like many viewers, I chose to watch the events (and non-events) unfold through the hashtag #LoveIsland as opposed to the show itself. I never understood the appeal of Twitch, the live streaming platform for gamers, but recently it started to make sense to me. I imagine its users experience something similar to the thrill I get from reading other people’s real-time reactions to a show that I don’t bother to watch properly.
The best thing about Love Island is usually Twitter, but it seems pronounced when a series is as average as this one, with the speech proving infinitely more interesting than the program. More and more, I’m reading rather than watching, preparing for when the timeline will confirm it’s getting good again, so I can dive right back in. Until then, I’ll laugh at myself for someone else’s breakdown of the last mismatched coupling, like I’m digesting my own episode of Digital Gogglebox.
This phenomenon is not unique to Love Island – Selling Sunset, Love Is Blind, Naked Attraction, and The Circle have benefited greatly from hashtags and live feedback. But Love Island is one of the only shows with a hashtag that emphasizes how much viewers appreciate it, while racking up thousands of memes, theories, and reactions.
It can be difficult to tell if a series is good or not, given the fun of online reviews. Many fans are realizing that the Winter Series was a flop and Series Four was overrated – tweets won it. Series Seven wouldn’t be the first to take a while to heat up, but if it continues as is, it will be the first series fully worn by viewers.
Sometimes the show’s producers rely too heavily on the ability of Twitter – especially black Twitter – to make the show relevant, no matter how good it is. It almost borders on baiting.
After a particularly dry episode, the official Love Island account posted a photo of resident hunky guy Brad and fan favorite Kaz on the balcony, a setup we typically see when an Islander is “pulled over to chat” for. express romantic interest. Twitter went into a frenzy, demanding that ITV2 broadcast the clandestine meeting.
The footage aired days later on its sister show, Love Island: Aftersun, and was as lukewarm as the show as a whole, much to everyone’s disappointment. But the show’s social media team knew what reaction the scene would elicit out of context. Part of me suspected that the timing of Rachel’s entry – a black female “bombshell” – was also no coincidence, after several black Twitter users expressed their intention to shut down.
As with anything on the internet, viewers’ messages can go too far. The visceral reactions to Chloe and Chuggs were so mean that Love Island had to issue a statement asking viewers to take a break. Following the suicide deaths of two cast members and the show’s former host, Caroline Flack, the stakes seem high in terms of duty of care – and online commentary can be a barrier in that area.
Overall, however, Twitter and Love Island have a symbiotic relationship: the funniest accounts on the social media site gain thousands of followers via their gags, the show becomes watchable for everyone, and Love Island lives for. fight another day. We don’t have the show we want (although it’s slowly picking up and there’s still time for a Maura-type entry), but, thanks to Twitter, we’re creating the show we deserve.