Love Island, which returned for a new series last night, is “a moral vacuum”, says Kara Kennedy in The Spectator. But that’s exactly why we love it. For about eight weeks, we cast off moralising and indulge in “infidelity, nastiness and misogyny”. Bikini-clad women in high heels line up “like Barbies on a Toys ‘R’ Us shelf”, stepping forward for the men’s choosing. Before entering, most undergo “non-surgical ‘tweakments’” to get the Love Island look: one former contestant, AJ Bunker, admitted she spent £1,000 on fillers the month before jetting off. A waste by all accounts – at “the ripe old age of 28”, she was dismissed by viewers as a granny and swiftly booted off. Even ardent feminists get drawn into whisperings about unflattering bikinis and who “could have done with a crash diet”.
The truth is, “misogyny is entertaining”, particularly when it’s happening to people who signed up for it, far away from our own lives. These perfect women are pitted against each other – and for what? “A date with Scott, the 22-year-old plasterer from Wigan.” It’s ridiculous, but also titillating. Contestants certainly get a good deal: 2019 runner-up Molly-Mae Hague kickstarted a £2m empire after her stint. But however we justify it, “cruelty is at the heart of the show” – and we secretly delight in the “guilty pleasure of petty bitching”. Love Island is like a catcall: sexist, and as feminists we should be disgusted. “But sometimes we can’t help but secretly love it.”