So I Finally Started Watching Love Island…

…and I’m officially obsessed!

I’ve been considering giving Love Island a try since I first heard about it, but as I’m sure all my fellow binge-watching folks out there will agree, a decision to take on a new television programme is not something you enter into lightly. It certainly isn’t one that you make without thorough research into said television show first. You see, deciding to watch a new show isn’t quite the same as watching a movie you haven’t seen before. It is all a very complex process, from the initial idea of watching the television show to finally switching on the first episode. This process usually involves reading reviews from various websites, asking the opinion of different friends, family members or colleagues that watch it, as well as some serious private contemplation on your part. I know this may sound insane if you are not really a television person, but after watching Season 1 of Power and being unable to continue, I refuse to just dedicate myself to a new show anyhow. Yes I know, Power’s supposed to be the shit. I do like the premise of it, however, unless Angela dies, I just don’t know if I can bring myself to go back to it. But more on that another day.

After my extensive research, I decided to give Love Island a go now that they have put it on Netflix. For those of you that don’t know, Love Island is a reality TV show on ITV2 that started in 2015. The easiest way I can think of to describe it is Big Brother meets Ex On The Beach. The show takes place in a beautiful villa in Spain during the summer, and roughly ten or eleven singletons are thrown in there in order to compete against each other to find love. At the end of the competition, the winning couple are awarded a £50, 000 prize. So you essentially get an all expenses paid, six week vacation in a five star villa in beautiful, sunny Spain, where you just get to talk to hot guys, drink and chill by the pool all day. Then if you’re lucky, you could end up leaving with a new boyfriend or girlfriend, and £50, 000. Not a bad deal, right?

An entire season of Love Island is spread out over the course of six weeks, and is shown every day on TV. This would be the Big Brother-esque part of the show. The contestants don’t have any form entertainment apart from each other, so no TVs, phones or radios etc., with the exception of the phones that they are provided with for the duration of the competition. These phones alert them with a text message whenever there is any kind of update in the show, i.e. a new arrival, a couple are instructed to go on a date, etc. This of course would be the Ex on The Beach portion, the contestants phones being a substitute for the famous ‘Tablet of Terror’. The players all have to partake in various different challenges set out for them, another example of a text message that would be sent to their phones.

I think the first moment I knew I might be sold when I began watching the reality show, was when I saw that Jon Clark from The Only Way Is Essex was one of the contestants on the first season. Oh yes, I do realise that Love Island currently in the middle of a new season. However I am one of those people that have to watch anything new right from the beginning. Even if it’s just a reality show, I need to start from Season 1. I mean, who ever heard of starting something in the middle? That shit’s crazy to me. I think the only television shows that are exempt are the ones you’ll just throw on when there’s nothing else on TV, e.g. Come Dine With Me. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Come Dine With Me but you’d never catch me sitting down to watch it from Season 1. There are way too many episodes for a start.

As I was saying, Jon Clark was on the first season of Love Island, so I knew instantly I would at least be completing Season 1. I love Jon. He’s one of my favourites on good old TOWIE, and to be honest I had no idea that he was on Love Island at all, let alone that this was actually his rise to fame and the reason he joined the cast of TOWIE in the first place. Jon may get irate very quickly and easily, but inside he’s really a sweet guy made of honey. Because of this flaw, some people think he’s a bit of a dickhead. However I can relate to not being able to control your temper sometimes, although I do consider myself a lot more mature now.

Despite the fact that I loved watching Jon in it, not to mention his girlfriend-at-the-time Hannah who he had partnered up with, I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about the show yet. I mean I was only a couple of episodes in. Watching a new show is a bit like entering into a new relationship, you play it cool at first and act really laid back. When you’re a good few months in, then you can show your true wacky, crazy self. So I wasn’t about to be raving about how good Love Island was when I was only a few episodes in. With that being said, I am now two seasons in and am officially happy to confirm that I do indeed Love Island! There’s never really a period where it gets dull; they always seem to know when to mix it up and I like that. It’ll be smooth sailing for a bit and everyone’s all happy, then BOOM: a new arrival. It’ll be slightly too chilled for just a few moments, then BOOM: someone gets dumped from the villa. Sun, sex and six packs, the drama never ends. What is not to love!?

Anyway, I’m not going to go into detail about the contestants and what happened, because let’s face it: if you watch it, you already know and if you don’t watch it, you probably don’t care. However I will explain why I like it specifically for those of you that think reality TV is the trashiest, most “rachet”-est thing since…well, since the slang term “ratchet” was invented. I completely respect that opinion; I’m not going to lie, reality TV is trash. But occasionally, trash can be just so entertaining to watch. I do have limits though; I draw the line at shit like Teen Mom, Toddlers and Tiaras and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. However I do consider Love Island to be slightly different. I find the concept intriguing, I mean think about it. When you meet someone in real life this is usually how it goes: you exchange numbers, talk for a bit, meet up for a date or sex, depending on the vibe and the person, you keep seeing each other for a few months, perhaps an average of three or four dates a month. Then it progresses, and you’re seeing each other more often, perhaps meeting friends or family members, and somewhere along the line, you eventually make it official. However in Love Island, you meet someone and then you essentially spend every waking moment together. I mean, every moment.

To be honest, the fights between the couples don’t surprise me in the slightest. Judging from what I know about guys, if I had to be in the company of one every moment of every day, I’d definitely have more than a few choice words for you after a while. One of the rules of the competition is that when you’re coupled up with someone, you have to share the same bed, even if it is more on a friend vibe (because unfortunately not everyone meets someone). This means that they wake up together, get dressed together, eat together, they chill together, because of course they need to get to know each other and there’s nothing else to do anyway, they brush their teeth together, and then of course they go to sleep together. I know that if you are genuinely enjoying someone’s company that this can be a good experience, however, best believe there will be moments that I will want to kick him in the face. I’m just saying. It’s only natural; anytime humans are around each other constantly, arguments are almost inevitable. When I used to live with my best friend, we would occasionally have little arguments about tiny little things. However, both before and after we lived together, we never had any arguments. It is wondrous how much of a difference just a little bit of space can make.

Although initially the biggest motivation for competing would naturally be the 50 Gs, it seems that there were quite a few pairs that did genuinely find love. So I guess the aim of the show does work for anyone who is genuinely looking. From what I’ve found out, a few couples have ended up getting engaged and even having children. A couple of them broke up with the people they were coupled with on the show, but ended up getting with one of the other contestants. So it’s nice to know that some of them did get their happily ever after in one way or another. However it is incredibly sad that the same cannot be said for the beautiful Sophie Gradon, who was one of the most memorable contestants on Season 2 of Love Island. A couple of weeks ago, the tragic news of her untimely death was brought to the attention of the media. The cause of death has not yet been confirmed, however they have said that there was no sign of “foul play”, leaving many people to speculate that it was suicide. I personally feel that describing it as a tragedy is too much of an understatement. I may not have known her, but Sophie seemed an incredibly intelligent, kindhearted and amazingly free-spirited woman. I heard the news of her death before I had started watching the show, but once you make your way through Season 2 and watch her more and more, it just continues to weigh on your heart. I know they will probably never read this, but my still heavy heart goes out to both her family and her friends.

I am yet to start on Season 3, so I definitely haven’t made my way to the season that’s currently showing on TV. However there has been a huge outrage from a lot of viewers at the lack of diversity in Season 4 of Love Island. There is one black woman in the entire cast, who from what I have seen is gorgeous, but apparently she hasn’t found love so far and this gradually seems to be chipping away at her confidence. Not to mention that the remainder of the cast seem to consist of supremely sculpted, chiselled, muscled, ripped men and perfectly preened, plumped, nipped and tucked women, who all look exactly the same. No seriously, look it up and play a fun little game of Spot the Difference. I bet you’ll still be playing by the time this season of Love Island is over. Now I completely agree with all these opinions; my best friend and I were half-joking regarding the plight of Rachel in Season 1. Rachel was the token black girl of the first season, and she, of course, got no love. Which brings me back to the point I was about to make. I completely agree with all that is being said, however the lack of diversity on reality television shows in Britain is nothing new at all. Look at all the shows that are currently on TV: Made in Chelsea, Geordie Shore, Ex on the Beach, Love Island. For those of you that don’t partake, please just look up previous cast members on Google and tell me how many non-white contestants you see. Because from what I’ve seen previously, you are lucky if you ever get two in a season at once. Now I don’t think that the creators and producers are being racist per se. I just think that it doesn’t enter their ignorant minds that the public might want to watch someone on television who isn’t white and perfect looking. Well folks, I have news for you…we do!

So I assure you, I am not making light of an issue which I truly believe is a serious one. But it is difficult for me to share the same level of outrage as some of my fellow viewers because this all occurred to me years ago. This certainly didn’t begin in 2018, and I unfortunately I don’t believe it will end this year either. Not when it comes to British reality television in general anyway. However with Love Island specifically, what with the huge amount of backlash they’ve recently received, not just from the public but from previous contestants as well, I am confident that the cast of Love Island 2019 will look incredibly different. Mark my words: instead of the usual porcelain dolls along with the token black girl and the one mixed race guy, there’ll be five white girls/guys (one of which will be bigger than the average size), two black girls and two black guys (one of which will be bigger than the average size, take your pick), and perhaps one Asian guy just to go crazy.

You know what, if I generally thought I could handle the aftermath of it, I might even consider applying for next year myself. I do believe it might be the perfect time for a black girl! However, whilst I may feel that I’ll be okay in theory, I know that it will most likely be a different story when it comes to actually doing it. So being a future Love Island contestant may not be in the cards for me, which is probably for the best. However I very much hope that they do improve when it comes to their lack of diversity, as well as any other television programme being shown to millions of influential viewers. But nevertheless, Love Island definitely have me sold as a spectator in this juicy saga for the time being. Keep that shit coming ITV2!

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Chicago: The Musical, The Review

So Bank Holiday Monday on 28th May was very enjoyable. My friend Keely and I went to see Chicago: The Musical playing in The Phoenix Theatre, London. I won the tickets in our New Year’s staff party (I had never won anything in my life up until that day, so this was a very proud moment for me!) and when I was given the tickets, I was told that I could book anything except Hamilton and Harry Potter & The Cursed Child. I know, boo right? It’s not like Harry Potter was my first choice or anything. But you know, free shit is free shit so I was not about to complain.

After doing my research, I was on the verge of selecting Dreamgirls as the lucky winner, when I discovered that Chicago would be coming to London in March, and that Cuba Gooding Jr. would be paying Billy Flynn. Well, suddenly it was a no-brainer! I had to see Cuba Gooding Jr. perform live. I was completely unaware of what his skills as a singer were, but this was not about to be the sole reason not to attend.  I mean, Richard Gere isn’t exactly John Legend himself but, as we all know, he killed it in the movie.

On the day, I wasn’t really sure of what to expect. I had been so focused on my excitement at seeing Cuba Gooding Jr. perform live, that I had forgotten how much I loved the way the characters were played by the actors in the original movie. To be honest, I completely underestimated how brilliant Catherine Zeta-Jones was as Velma Kelly. From the very beginning of the show, whilst she was performing All That Jazz, I had a feeling that Josefina Gabrielle would not do the role justice quite like the lovely Mrs. Zeta-Jones. I know that the entire cast in the movie did set the bar very high, but I just didn’t get the essence of the “Miss Velma Kelly” that you’re supposed to feel from the moment she walks into the room. I won’t go as far as to say that Josefina did a bad job, but I just didn’t love it.

Now Sarah Soetaert, who played the main character Roxie Hart, did fantastically in my opinion. When performing in something well-known, actors tend to study the original too much and just mimic exactly what we’ve seen before, rather than make it their own. Ms. Soetaert did not do any such thing. She still brought the playfulness and ditziness to the character, but she also compiled this with the perfect touch of comedy as well. I don’t actually remember the character being quite that funny when it was played by Renee Zellwegger, as brilliant as this was. So I was very impressed with what Sarah Soetaert brought to the role.

Another who impressed me was Paul Rider, who played Amos in the musical, Roxie Hart’s husband. Now for anyone who has seen the movie, or has been lucky enough to see Chicago on Broadway, I’m sure you remember that Amos is essentially Mr. Invisible. He’s described as not very attractive, a little simple and according to Roxie, not very good in bed. I think even referring to him as “a little simple” is me being kind-hearted personally. Because if we’re going to be honest, any man who would spend his life savings on his woman who is in jail for killing the man she cheated on you with, is nothing short of a mug in my opinion. I get it, love is blind or whatever. But he is still a mug. However I could not fault the actor’s performance.

Ruthie Henshall played the fabulous Mama Morton. Once again, I didn’t quite consider just how much of a mark Queen Latifah left with her portrayal of the matron. Ruthie Henshall certainly had some big shoes to fill. I wasn’t a huge fan of her characterization at first, however she did grow on me. I liked the fact that she seemed to have all the edge of Big Mama, but was still able to bring her own style of acting to the character. She didn’t quite resonate the confidence and power that I would expect from anyone who took on the role, but when she walked onto the stage, you knew it was Big Mama. She wasn’t actually big in size at all. But unexpectedly, this didn’t really matter to me. The only negative point I had was that she and Velma Kelly didn’t seem to have the relationship that they should have had before Roxie arrived. When it came to the climactic part of the performance, where Roxie has essentially replaced Velma as the big dog, I didn’t feel as much of an effect because I didn’t feel as if her and Mama had much of a bond in the first place. But overall, I did like Ruthie Henshall’s portrayal.

And finally, the wonderful Mr. Cuba Gooding Jr. Yes, I did indeed save the best for last! As excited as I was to see him perform live in the weeks leading up to the show, all I could think of once we were sat in our seats on the night was “please don’t mess it up Cuba, please. I love you so much, please don’t make me hate you!” And he did not disappoint. For an actor who is used to performing in front of the camera as opposed to on stage, I thought Cuba Gooding Jr. did an amazing job. I truly believe that Richard Gere would have been proud. Or slightly jealous perhaps. But either way, I loved it. Not only was he every bit as witty, funny, cheeky and daring as Billy Flynn should have been, but he was practically dripping with the suave and sophistication that we are used to seeing from Mr Gooding Jr. Only it was even better, because there wasn’t a sheet of glass separating me from him! Well, there will still several people, chairs and the stage, but that’s beside the point. I am genuinely struggling to find a negative element of his performance throughout the entire show.

So overall, it may not have been Harry Potter & The Cursed Child but it was amazing and my friend and I both thoroughly enjoyed it. I vote for a brand new film adaptation of Chicago with Cuba Gooding Jr. as Billy Flynn. Encore! Encore!