“Nothing fills my body with serotonin quite like the opening notes of the Love Island theme tune,” says Jessica Barrett in Grazia. They vibrate with the promise of an hour of pure joy: watching “sales executives in white Crocs” desperately flirting with pharmacists in thong bikinis. As the new winter series begins, I’m not ashamed to say I’ve watched every minute ever broadcast: I’ve dissected dates; paid for an ITV Hub subscription so I could keep up with the action while on holiday in France; sent thousands of messages on my dedicated group chat. As an almost 40-year-old, I’m well aware I’m hardly the show’s target demographic. But I just can’t quit watching.
A lot is down to the “camaraderie”: people I don’t talk to for the rest of the year come back into my life to swap memes about the contestants. Then there’s the frivolity: in our politically fraught world, “it feels good to be able to wantonly enjoy something, as well as take the piss out of it”. It also helps keep me young – I’ve learned what the “talking stage” is, and that “having your underboob out is socially acceptable”. But best of all is the “escapism”, which is why I’m glad ITV have ditched plans for a version of the show featuring middle-aged singletons. Who wants the “baggage and anxiety at play in a more seasoned cast” when you can be entertained by a cocksure 19-year-old who’s never been dumped? Here’s to settling in for yet another series and watching more “pop culture history being made”.