Shepparton News

Sometimes running away is the bravest thing we can do

- SANDY LLOYD HAS ESCAPED TO A SPANISH VILLA sandy.lloyd@sheppnews.com.au

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again — what a difference a fortnight makes. Two weeks ago when I last spoke to you, dear reader, we were as footloose and fancy-free as it’s possible to get in Victoria these days.

Unexpected­ly released from lockdown, I was back organising brunches and lunches and catching up with family and friends (not those beyond Shepparton, of course).

Now we are not only plunged back into lockdown, but the most serious lockdown we have faced since COVID-19 first changed our lives forever.

Shepparton has become the front-line in the coronaviru­s war; the epicentre of the disease earthquake.

This affects so many people it hurts my already aching brain just to think about it.

Thousands and thousands isolating because of so many school connection­s, and the domino effect beyond those families into workplaces and other venues.

It feels like an avalanche is roaring down on us and we are helpless to do anything but be swept away by it.

Except we can fight back — and we are fighting back.

To all the wonderful people staying at home as directed and getting tested in

HOW SHALLOW I SOUND, BUT THAT MATCHES HOW SHALLOW THE SHOW IS – AND WHY IT IS SUCH AN ESCAPE FROM THE ORDINARY WORLD.

such huge numbers — I salute you.

To all the amazing community-minded people stepping up to help all those wonderful people staying home — I salute you.

What’s my contributi­on?

I hope I can take your mind off the statistics and fears for just a few moments today as I share my most guilty little secret and willingly hold myself up for public ridicule to let you enjoy a laugh at my expense.

Go on, I imagine I hear you say, we could do with a laugh.

Here it is then:

Every day, for the past six weeks, I have watched an hour of possibly the trashiest reality television known to humanity.

As an intelligen­t, pro-equality, rationalth­inking woman I have no excuse.

I am obsessed with the British series, Love Island.

We’re up to season seven now, and I’ve been addicted to all of them. How I despaired when coronaviru­s cancelled it last winter!

What better antidote to a cold and dreary winter, punctuated by lockdowns and desperate COVID-19 news, than to watch a bunch of gloriously stupid but utterly beautiful young Brits prance around a villa in Spain, wearing nothing but bikinis and shorts, for six weeks.

All the time speaking in funny accents. How shallow I sound, but that matches how shallow the show is — and why it is such an escape from the ordinary world.

The idea is this: 12 young singles are thrown together 24/7 with no contact with the outside world and are expected to couple up and find love. ‘Bombshells’ (other gorgeous young people) are regularly dropped into the villa to see if they can win the islanders’ hearts instead.

There are silly challenges, silly conversati­ons and a lot of noisy snogging. Also some sex. People are dumped, voted off by the public and generally manipulate­d by the producers to milk the most drama out of every situation.

It’s a bit like Lord of the Flies, but in bikinis.

At the end of it, the public votes for the winning couple. And everyone lives happily ever after.

Well, some do. There are still Love Island couples together — some are married, some have kids (although it’s often not the winning couple). Most implode once they return home.

What they do all share is Instragram and Twitter followers in eye-watering numbers. Which means cash in the shape of endorsemen­ts as online influencer­s.

Millions and millions of people in the UK watch this show and follow the participan­ts. They become instant celebritie­s when they enter the villa, and many remain so when they leave.

Part of my fascinatio­n is the viewing public. I follow websites and bloggers who dissect and comment on all the on-screen shenanigan­s, and collate a cross-section of the public’s Twitter responses.

I read about the complaints to Ofcom (the UK’s TV regulator). One episode this year drew 25,000 complaints for one islander’s behaviour.

I follow the debate about how women of colour are treated on the show (usually badly).

I marvel at toxic male behaviour and learn about new dating pain men inflict on women (this year I added ‘negging’ and ‘cookie jarring’ to my vocab — look them up).

But mostly I just lose myself in the sunshine and stupidity of it all.

So, if you’re stuck at home feeling glum, you could do a lot worse than dip your toe in the shallow water that is Love Island. Find it on 9Now.

It’s utter trash, but where else can you hear a beautiful blonde girl declare she’s not sure if werewolves exist — because she hasn’t met one and doesn’t know anyone who has. But mermaids are definitely real.

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