There are certain things we never, ever see on Love Island. Things we wish for, yearn for, and scream at the television to see. And last night, we saw three of them in what was possibly the most entertaining episode of the season so far.
The first came when Yewande took both Danny and Arabella for a chat, and in the most poised and graceful demonstration of clear and effective communication we’ve ever seen, effectively ended their love triangle before it could even begin. Her confidence in taking both the lad she likes and the woman he’s attempting to play her with to one side and get it all out on the table is the energy we could only dream for.
Yewande has continued to amass support with her handling of the Danny/Arabella love triangle…
Then came one of our favourite Love Island moments of all time, when Maura took absolutely no prisoners after Tom disrespected her to the boys – and to her face (the GALL??) – after she invited him to the hideaway. Telling him to ‘f*ck off’ after he said ‘it’ll be interesting to see if she’s all mouth or not’ in front of her, Tom fumbled the hideaway invitation like nothing we’ve ever seen on the show before.
But one history-making moment you might’ve missed was when a man was actually held accountable for his emotionally manipulative actions BY OTHER MEN. His friends, no less. The glorious scene occurred when all of the boys were discussing how Danny had lied to everyone in the villa about his intentions to pursue things with Arabella, and for once, they actually confronted him about it how his mistreatment of Yewande was a d*ck move.
‘It looks like you’ve got Yewande to open up to you and to everybody, and you’ve just told her lies,’ Tommy Fury told Danny, ‘that’s how it looks and now she’s closed back down again.’
‘She’s finally opened up,’ firefighter Michael, from Liverpool, added, ‘You’ve broken down these walls that she had built up, and now you’ve just gone [in] with quick cement and threw the walls back up.’
But the kicker came when Danny tried to explain his behaviour away, admitting he shouldn’t have told Yewande his ‘head wouldn’t be turned by anyone’, but saying that in an ideal world he would see how his relationship with Yewande progressed while pursuing things with Arabella.
‘Do you hear how that sounds though?’ he asked, ‘It sounds like you’re saying “me and you are going to crack on as usual, but I’m going to get to know her and might crack on with her as well”, that sounds proper dickheady, like proper, you’re basically saying “I want to get to know you but I’m keeping my options open”’
The conversation was worlds away from last season, when Adam Collard consistently demonstrated gaslighting behaviour towards almost every woman he was coupled up with, while the boys just laughed on – often referring to him as a ‘God’. ‘Adam just can’t help himself, can he?’, Jack Fincham had said, repeatedly, at the time, ‘I don’t know how he gets away with it. He’s like a god in his own right.’
Of course, the irony was that it’s people like Jack – the friends of men who emotionally abuse women – who do consistently let them get away with unhealthy patterns of behaviour towards women. Rarely, if ever, have we seen a man on Love Island held accountable for his actions towards women by his friends in the villa.
And yet, it can clearly be so easily and tactfully done. Where men seem to be afraid to call their friends out, for fear of being chastised or not being seen as ‘one of the lads’, Michael clearly demonstrated that there are ways to do this without being overly aggressive, or (and it’s unfortunate that this even matters) uncool.
For viewers of Love Island, whom are mostly between the ages of 18-34, this is important. For men to see that there is a way to talk to your friends about their behaviour and remain the alpha male, the cool one that was written off as a ‘bad boy’ by more than one woman at the start of the season, is monumental. He, on the outside, with his ripped body and head-to-toe tattoos he could be mistaken as the pinnacle of toxic-masculinity, and yet he has demonstrated multiple times that he is actually the most emotionally mature man in the villa.
For example, in last night’s episode when Maura invited Tom to the hideaway, and all of the boys crowded excitedly around him, handing him condoms, talking about whether she’ll live up to her ‘reputation’, Michael was the only Islander (even including the girls) to suggest she might not actually have sex with him just because she’s so open about it.
He was promptly ignored, of course, because everyone else in there equates confidence in talking about sex with having a lot of it (which you would expect men to know isn’t true given how many male friendship groups have an equivalent to Jay from The Inbetweeners). As was his emotional maturity glossed over when he had his first disagreement with partner Amber.
At the time, he had been upset with Amber’s reaction to Maura’s arrival in the villa. Sitting her down to calmly communicate his feelings, listening to hers and ultimately learning from each other’s reactions, the couple passed their first natural hurdle in the villa with flying (but forgotten) colours.
Honestly, if you can’t already tell, we’re obsessed with Michael. And there’s one more reason. Writing as a fellow scouse, it always pains me to see how people from Liverpool are often characterised on TV as stupid, aggressive or classless – and here he is, breaking stereotypes left right and centre. And if he carries on, he’ll not only return to the city with the same welcome Liverpool Football Club did last month, but he’ll be a national treasure too.
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