Summer in the UK guarantees three things: packed pub gardens, people sporting painful, lobster-red sunburn – and a nation hooked on Love Island.


This year has proved no exception; season 8 of ITV2’s dating Goliath has proved there’s still life in the Love Island format yet with some episodes seeing the show achieve some of its highest audience viewing figures since the halcyon days of 2019, after a noticeable decline in interest last year.

Our reinvigorated interest in the Influencer Olympics that is Love Island stems from the format’s twists and turns, which have been deployed to perfection by producers this year to stoke some of the most dramatic scenes in the show’s history. From Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu crawling on her hands and knees to sneak kisses from Jay Younger on the terrace, to Andrew Le Page, Tasha Ghouri and Coco Lodge’s ‘Tit-gate’, viewers have been given a banquet of storylines to feast on, prompting widespread discussion on social media and centralising Love Island in online discourse.

But as much as viewers have been hooked on episodes centred around the exploits of the Love Island 2022 line-up (and the slightly tense fireside chats that follow), there’s an integral part of Love Island that’s been missing from this year’s series: the love itself.

Tasha, Andrew, Paige and Adam on Love Island
Tasha, Andrew, Paige and Adam on Love Island ITV

One of the best and most compelling parts about Love Island is seeing romance blossom between the islanders – seeing sparks fly at the first coupling, their first kisses and those initial early dates, all soundtracked by Iain Stirling’s wry and slightly silly commentary. Whether pairings go the distance outside the villa is almost irrelevant – we believe and buy into the romance and the journey each couple goes on at the time.

Of course, it’s even more heart-warming to see the couples that really do last outside the rigorously structured reality they navigate on the show: seeing former contestants such as Camilla and Jamie, Olivia and Alex, and even Jess and Dom go on to get married and have babies illustrates that not all the relationships on Love Island are purely for the camera – that there really is some authenticity on a reality show that has been criticised for being too heavily structured and produced.

But this year’s helping of Love Island hasn’t managed to create even one successful pairing worth rooting for. With only a few weeks left until the show’s grand finale, it’s safe to say that it’s anyone’s game to take the £50,000 prize money – simply because none of the couples are well-matched or well liked.

Season 8’s Casa Amor proved to be one of the most chaotic in history: the moment the girls were out of sight, they were out of mind, too, as the boys instantly cracked on with the newbies. The previously popular Dami Hope forgot about Indiyah Polack to indulge in a three-way kiss with Summer Botwe and Chyna Mils, Davide locked lips with Coco, Andrew wore his tongue on his sleeve and also got intimate with Coco, while the now departed Jacques O'Neill infamously asked "Paige who?" as he cracked on with new girls. Elsewhere, while he remained ‘loyal’ to Gemma Owen throughout the Casa Amor test, Luca Bish has divided viewers after he accused his partner of ‘entertaining’ interest from bombshell Billy Brown, with some taking to Twitter to liken the fishmonger to ‘a walking red flag’ and calling for Gemma to give him the boot.

Love Island Casa Amor 2022 recoupling
Love Island Casa Amor 2022 recoupling ITV

Love Island is so lacking in romance, flirting and intrigue this year that stunning bombshell Danica Taylor’s entire experience on the show has been defined by her being constantly rejected, resorting to her effectively being the villa’s HR manager and fielding advice to the islanders while failing to find anyone suitable for herself.

It’s not just love between the couples that this season has been severely lacking; platonic love and tight friendship groups are also nowhere to be seen in this incarnation of the villa. There’s no Chris and Kem bromance providing light comic relief between some of the more serious chats, and the sisterhood of season 5, which saw the girls bond together and highlight the disrespect they were receiving from the boys is sorely missed (and much needed).

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Love Island Movie night
The boys at Movie Night on Love Island ITV

Instead, the boys’ friendships have been forged through shared dislike of some of the girls’ (namely Tasha), while the girls’ friendships are fractured: Paige Thorne previously received backlash online after she excluded Danica and Indiyah from a chat with the others following a recoupling, which saw Antigoni Buxton having to choose Charlie Radnedge as Danica chose to couple up with Jay. And we’ve yet to see a BFF friendship to match Liberty and Kaz’s from season 7.

Only Ekin-Su has consistently stood up for the other girls in the villa – even when they’ve maligned and criticised her behaviour.

Ekin-Su in Love Island 2022
Ekin-Su in Love Island 2022 ITV

With a heavier focus on fall-outs, fighting and friction, this year’s Love Island has teetered beyond being compelling viewing to becoming, at times, plain uncomfortable. It’s fine for Love Island to have drama – essential, in fact, otherwise it can quickly become stale. But the drama should never be at the expense of the love that has always been at the heart of the series. Love Island without the love becomes a much crueller show: effectively a souped-up Big Brother with prettier contestants in nicer surroundings.

There’s a couple of weeks left of season 8, and producers are bound to throw in more dates and Hideaway nights to encourage a bit more fun and flirtatiousness in the villa. But as it stands, there isn't much love to be seen on Love Island. And when you have viewers talking on Twitter and saying they're voting for Tasha and Andrew as their favourite just to keep them in until the Love Island 2022 final and spite other islanders (ahem - Luca), this is no longer a show motivated by romance.

From a series that boasted they were the OGs of love when promoting the season, maybe it’s time the show remembered what Love Island is actually meant to be about - love.

Love Island airs at 9pm nightly on ITV2 and ITV Hub. Episodes are available the following morning on BritBox – you can sign up for a 7-day free trial. If you're looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide. Visit our Entertainment hub for all the latest news.


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