Game of Thrones is a smash-hit, a proper pop-cultural moment in our history and probably the biggest show on television right now – bar one.
You see, this year its hold on the metaphorical Iron Throne of TV relevance has been challenged somewhat by the unlikeliest of pretenders – ITV2’s Love Island, the cult reality dating series that has brought in almost as much online discussion and column inches as the greatest intrigues Westeros has to offer.
Still, perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised. While I’m as irritated as anyone by media organisations awkwardly likening things to popular TV, you can’t deny the striking similarities between both shows – one a dense tale of backstabbing and intrigue where favourites can be eliminated at any moment and the other, well, Game of Thrones – which are set to air in the same 9pm timeslot next Monday.
Don’t believe me? Well, let’s take a look at some of the similarities.
1. An incredibly complex backstory that’s inaccessible for newcomers
I recently asked my girlfriend if she could fill me in on the Love Island backstory before I watched an episode with her that night, and after about 20 minutes I had to beg off, still stuck somewhere between the build-up to Jamilla and Casa Amor as I longed for the relative simplicity of the 60-hour Game of Thrones storyline.
Frankly, in a series that has seen couple after couple shack up, break apart and move on over its month-long runtime, you’d need a full and well-manned wiki (or our handy guide to all the recouplings) to keep track of everything that happened – and with Love Island, you can’t even refer back to the books.
2. A wasteland of broken alliances and betrayals
Love Island is built on heartbreaking break-ups and shocking betrayals, which fans follow with the rapt attention of any Thrones viewer.
From Marcel’s cavalier kissing with Shannen to Jonny’s callous dismissal of Camilla, Love Island has been full of its very own Red Wedding moments – and of course, Game of Thrones is just as bad.
Who could forget when Robb was cracking on to Roslin, only to mug her off and couple up with Talisa instead? It was, to paraphrase Walder Frey, “pretty snakey”, even if his own response WAS too aggy for words. Still, he got pied off in the end too, so to speak.
3. Set in sunny locales filled with warring houses
Ned would come to regret insisting Jaime needed his permission before speaking to Catelyn
Like Game of Thrones, Love Island brings the drama by pitting its attractive cast against each other – and it’s safe to say that the rivalry between the villa and Casa Amor would give the Lannisters and Starks a run for their money.
Still, has any Game of Thrones punishment been quite as cruel as the texted-in trials intended to test the bonds of the Love Islanders? Or that postcard? Well yes, obviously – people get their genitals and hands cut off in Game of Thrones, like, all the time – but still. Similar.
4. In-depth and confusing vocabulary
Sam and Gilly desperately try to discover the difference between being “pied off” and “mugged off”
Scratching your head over words and concepts like Valar Morghulis, Dracarys, wargs, wildfire and wildlings? Spare a thought for the Love Island neophytes wading into a world of mugginess, salty, grafting, sticking on and pie-ing off.
Still, we can probably all agree on one thing – Joffrey was a proper melt.
5. Introducing new characters who are eliminated immediately
Characters like Oberyn Martell, Brother Ray, Lady Crane and even Ned Stark might not have lasted long on Game of Thrones, but that’s nothing compared to the swift demise of people like Steve, Marino, Rob, Ellisha-Jade and Shannen (nope, us neither) on Love Island.
And to think, they didn’t even get any comic-con appearances out of it. Sad times.
6. Surprise resurrections
If you were shocked by the return of Jon Snow to this mortal plane, just imagine how Love Island viewers were feeling when “Muggy” Mike and Sam re-entered the villa this week, ghosts at a feast they had long since exited. Chilling stuff.
7. Repeated use of stirring catchphrases
Announcing Amber of House Davies, first of her name, Warden of the South (of Wales) and consort of Prince Kem.
Hear her words:
Truly, a motto to cast more shivers through the ages than Winter is Coming ever could.
8. And finally – if we’re honest, people mainly tune in for the nudity and (at least emotional) bloodshed
C’mon, you know I’m right.
With thanks to Frances Taylor
Love Island airs at 9.00pm on ITV2, while Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres exclusively on Monday 17th July on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV at 2am, repeated at 9pm on the same day