Picture me, sparking up a conversation at a bar. A pint of the cheapest larger freshly frothed from the tap, a pair of wispy fake glasses to ensure people are aware of my writer status and, of course, my favourite flannel shirt in a cocktail of red, crimson and soft burgundy.
Standard courtesy chat soon leads to the question “so what do you do?” and the answer always leads back to here, Realitytitbit. But from every male, female, transgender, transsexual and gender-fluid person I speak to – and bare in mind at least three of those sexes were added for the impression that Enfield is as diverse as reality TV – chat about the same show always surfaces.
While the staples of RTV are commonly considered Big Brother and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, they’re not hot on the lips of the UK public. Great British Bake Off is best savoured for pre-heated discussions around ya’ nana’s house and X-Factor has never been considered cool, at least not in the milieu of a hip bar on the outskirts of London.
No, seven months from the final that saw Amber Davies and Kem Cetinay crowned champions and Love Island is still overwhelming the nation.
Naturally, out of the 2.9 million people who watched the record breaking ITV2 final, only two types of personalities exist. You can be 15 years old, 21, 34 or 52, but you are still one of these two people.
Person one shouts into my face with such unbearable enthusiasm that I often consider instantly necking the rest of my hop loaded brew and dashing off to the toilet with zero suggestion that I would ever return.
“OMFG I LOVE love Island.” They squawk. No you don’t. I watch and analyse every episode and I have never liked it that much. You need to take it down a notch.
Person two is a character who lethargically dwells upon the notion that they too watched every single episode and perhaps even downloaded the ITV android app for a streamlined voting service.
“Ah yeah, my friend (easily replaced with daughter or son) started watching Love Island,” . . . is how the tale unfolds.
“I hate to admit it but I watched a couple episodes and I was completely hooked as well.” . . . is how the plot thickens.
Every man and his dog became engrossed by the lives of these spunky youngsters, living it up in a sun soaked villa and searching for love inside 60 days. The casting crew had succeeded in bringing a previously dead reality TV show back to life, and with a serious shot of adrenaline.
From the lead characters in Chris Hughes and Olivia Attwood and Marcel Somerville and Gabby Allen, to the side guys like Theo Campbell and Mike Thalassitis, every character added value to the show. And I haven’t even mentioned Montana Brown or the nation’s sweetheart Camilla Thurlow.
Few reality TV shows successfully cycle through large volumes of varied personalities. Big Brother for instance is limited to 16 housemates and even then finding a common bond with half of them is challenging.
In Love Island 2017 however, there were a colossal 32 contestants, all aged between 18 and 31 years old. Okay, so there were passing personalities such as Steve Ball – literally I say his name and people think I am joking – but the sheer number of characters brought to life on-screen meant that each UK individual could find a favourite to latch onto.
The new series of Love Island, series four, will launch in June this year. But, while the majority of super fans are prepping their bright pink Primark ‘Muggy’ slogan T’s for another summer festival period, fans like me are worried it’s going to be a catastrophic flop.
The expectation for Love Island 2018 to live up to its predecessor is too much. Historically, reality TV shows fail to bounce from success to success with ease.
The pattern seems to run through a good then bad system, and if the Love Island team try to formulate the same recipe of success from 2017, well then it could lead to disaster.
We’ve witnessed under the duvet sex scenes, we’ve connected to insecure female personalities, and we’ve adored watching bromances blossom. The same plots only using different characters – who are likely to be less popular thanks to the human sentiment of nostalgia, whereby we say things like “yeah but he’s not as good as Kem from the last series” – can only lead to disappointment.
Perhaps in six months time, when I’m sipping on a long stemmed pint of Peroni due to a pay rise, I’ve swapped my glasses for sunnies in the incredible British summer heat, and am repping the same flannel shirt because it’s a 10 out of 10 all-rounder, perhaps no-one will bother me with their over exuberant love of Love Island.
Perhaps we can fall back to the usual mechanics of conversation and skim past the reality TV topic because “the shows are boring” and “you don’t watch them”. Of course, you do watch reality TV. And you sure as hell watched Love Island 2018. But we can sit their sipping our pints both knowing that nothing proved as conversation-worthy as Love Island 2017.
You can even grunt “did you watch the football last night”. I’d be most delighted.