Over the past few years, our summer TV schedules have become defined by just two words: Love Island. Arguably the reigning monarch of reality dating shows, Love Island gradually picked up a dedicated audience through word-of-mouth season-by-season, becoming the guilty pleasure of many drama-thirsty Brits (and after its release on Netflix worldwide, international viewers as well).
So when news broke last week of the upcoming summer series’s cancellation due to the coronavirus pandemic, some viewers were understandably disappointed. After exploring the possibility of a UK-based villa and a delayed airdate for the seventh series by a month, ITV bosses decided against Love Island in lockdown.
Rumours of a possible Autumn 2020 series are now flooding Twitter – but right now, we’re making a plea: we love the show, but keep Love Island off TV for as long as lockdown continues – the last thing quarantined Brits need to be watching right now is a large group of bikini-clad singles frolicking in the blazing sun.
Strict coronavirus measures might be keeping all of us trapped indoors, unable to travel or see family and friends, but there are a few things that are helping us get through it as a nation, the main one being the knowledge that “we’re all in this together” – FOMO has, for the time being at least, been eradicated.
With housebound confinement forecasted to be the new normal for at least the next few months, broadcasting four weeks-worth of attractive twenty-somethings sunbathing by the pool in the sweltering heat could cause riots in the street. Contestants would be breaking social distancing rules for a quick snog with an Instagram influencer they’ve known for five minutes, while many of us are unable to just chat face-to-face with loved ones we’ve known for years.
Love Island is perfect viewing during a glorious summer, but it doesn’t work if we’re resenting the Islanders: just look at the semi-flop that was Love Island’s winter series. Its February finale raked in 3.62 million viewers – just over a million and a half fewer than the series before. The reality competition’s regular audience just didn’t want to watch Pretty Little Thing-wearing part-time models have fun in sunny South Africa while Brits were donning thermals in the cold and accessorising their winter onesies with hot water bottles.
The same will almost certainly happen with a lockdown series of Love Island. Temperatures might be be higher, but the possibility of heading out to meet friends at a rooftop bar or a picnic in the park no longer exists.
For those of us who have spent most of lockdown digging through our fridge and stuffing our faces out of boredom, the delay of series seven is again a Godsend. I don’t want to be reminded during these dire times that there are people who still somehow possess abs, nor do I want to watch various self-claimed personal trainers rub the villa’s outdoor gym in my face.
If Love Island debuts in the Autumn to a liberated public, we may be ready to accept the reality competition once again and return to dedicating eight weeks of their lives to watching attractive strangers create a whole new vocabulary of dating related slang.
But if the pandemic continues to rage on in the autumn, winter and even into 2021, maybe ITV2 needs to rethink its summer plans for the foreseeable future – just like the rest of us.
Check out what else is on with our TV Guide.