Love Island returned to our screens last month, with a freshly tanned batch of singletons looking to crack on and mug off in the Spanish sun.
The latest season of ITV2’s dating Goliath comes after the show was forced to skip summer 2020 due to social distancing. And yet, despite a year where we were all left sex-starved, the especially spicy series we all hoped for hasn't yet revealed itself.
In fact, it only takes one look at social media to reveal public opinion: the seventh season of Love Island has been more subdued than saucy. Many of the couples have formed without an immediate sexual spark – leaving us to not only question how genuine some of our pairings are, but wonder whether the Islanders are even in there for love.
Instead, it’s the friendships in the villa that we’re more invested in, with the girls in particular forming strong, consistent bonds from the get-go. Liberty Poole and Kaz Kamwi, the first two people to enter the villa, are the show’s resident besties, and boy is the internet rooting for them. They've been hyping each other's dates, backing each other up and sharing sweet moments of genuine affection (let's just not mention *that* Jake kiss.)
Their friendship is warm and genuine, to the extent that fans have joked about them coupling up to win the £50k. Although platonic, Kaz and Liberty's strong chemistry and immediate intimacy may have been brought about as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to relationship expert Sarah Louise Ryan. “In the times we have recently found ourselves in, I think so many people value friendship more than ever,” she explains.
“We have been in a time of such disconnection and we human beings are built to be sociable creatures who have a strongest sense of belonging when in a community. The surreal times of the last 18 months have deprived people of their core need to connect."
This is not the first time we’ve seen the Love Island girls unionise in the villa, and offer each other close guidance and support. You only have to look back to Yewande, Anna and Amber from 2019 for receipts; a close threesome who regularly confronted the boys should one of their group be mistreated. And then there was Maura, often on hand to deliver tough love, even risking a row in her own relationship with Curtis to tell Anna that Jordan was looking to dump her for India.
Sarah Louise attributes the “pressure cooker” environment of the villa that turbo-charges the closeness of connections between the Islanders, be it in their relationships or their friendships. “Quite simply put – there is no escapism from the stimulants in the environment. In the villa, people have to be reactive to the circumstances and situations – both for themselves, for the relationships around them and for the cameras. Intense connection can come from that – they can relate to one another in that environment.”
But the intensity can also have a negative effect on friendships, seeing relatively small and minor indiscretions build into huge, thundering arguments.
We saw this in 2018’s series, when Dani Dyer suggested Georgia Steele wasn't genuinely "loyal" for staying in the villa, rather than leaving with partner Sam Bird. Meanwhile, Chloe Burrows found herself shunned by the rest of the girls in the villa earlier this season, after she actively made a move on Toby Aromolaran without speaking to Kaz first – a clear violation of "girl code."
Whether it's time to do away with 'girl code' is a conversation for another time. But, Ryan continues, this notion plays into the Love Islanders' high expectations of each other, because they're so invested in one another's situations.
“Girl code is the unwritten set of rules and boundaries when it comes to friendships where lines should or should not be crossed,” she said. “In the villa, they're vibing and gelling with each other all the time - breaking ‘the girl code’ is essentially breaking trust they have in each other.”
Thankfully, Kaz and Liberty are a prime example of how successful friendships fostered in villa are often so strong and authentic, creating a bond more genuine than any forced recoupling.
As Shaughna Phillips so eloquently put when she was voted out of the winter series: "I have literally found love in Love Island and it is with my Paige [Turley]."
From Molly-Mae Hague and Maura Higgins to Samira Mighty and Montana Brown, the unique settings of Love Island has fostered some serious female friendships, and we can't wait to see Kaz and Liberty join the hall of fame.
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