The sad news that contestant Mike Thalassitis has killed himself reveals the dark side of TV celebrity
What was it about Love Island that got you? Because, odds on, there was something. If not the girls, marinated in coconut oil, unfolded on sun loungers, then maybe it was the boys, sculpted and brown like pollarded mulberry trees. Or maybe it was the fantasy of the thing, as if, having been invited to list your Desert Island Discs, for your luxury item you’d chosen simply: “The eight fittest people in Dudley, shaved!”
Maybe it was the romance. The oldest story, performed in swimwear, pleasingly drunken and fast, like love itself. Maybe it was the drama – the tears, the fury, the twists. Or the new language of attraction, cobbled together hastily from the internet. Was it the philosophical implications, or its irresistible political bonfires? The multiple occasions when intimate interactions between contestants exploded into mainstream commentary, in turn alerting Love Island’s young audience to truths about coercive control and the intersections of race and sexism? Or maybe it was the way on-show relationships became news, slithering into your daily scroll. Politicians tweeted about their favourite contestants, charities used them as case studies. Once home they were briskly wheeled out to talk about Brexit, and body image and the state of Britain. And then, what? Then, like a thousand before them, they were left alone to focus on their new careers, as “ex-reality stars”.