Performing love

Is there anything new about the love in Love Island? The show is a product of a moment in which we’ve made a game out of judging the authenticity of other people’s romantic relationships, not just our own. We spend our leisure honing our ability to detect sincere feelings, to discern “truth” in love.

In many ways, this is the real pleasure of the show—does Curtis really fancy Amy? Do Molly-Mae and Tommy have a genuine connection? Which couple perform “love” the best?

As well as being central to the success of the show, this incitement to scrutinize emotional authenticity also helps explain the outraged responses to Love Island. The show poses questions about knowing the “truth” of others’ feelings, and through this, our own. It suggests that the experience of love is not solely determined by “chemistry,” but shaped by shifting social, cultural, and political environments. It’s not simply the language and labels of love which have changed through time, but its very essence.

This mercurial, historically fluid conception of love might seem unsettling for some, but in the words of this year’s Islanders: “It is what it is.”

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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