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Why I'm Watching I Kissed A Girl Over Love Island

Watching Love Island After I Kissed A Girl Is Only a Disappointment

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The first week of Love Island series 11 is coming to an end, and for the first time ever, I feel indifferent about the hit ITV2 dating show. Perhaps it's because I'm now in my mid 20s and I'm aging out of it. Or maybe it's because my idea of dating shows and the examples of love I want to see on screen are shifting. Enter: I Kissed A Girl.

The BBC dating show featured 14 lesbian and bisexual women on their journey to finding love in an Italian Masseria. It was genuinely a breath of fresh air in an oversaturated world of dating shows. In some ways the dating shows have similarities; both feature a group of single people frolicking around in bikinis and falling in love. But they also couldn't be anymore different — in the best way. At I The core of IKAG was a group of queer women who truly wanted to find love.

The contestants were so genuine that it was almost like watching your friend on screen, and as a viewer, you felt everything they felt. I couldn't help but fall in love with Amy, the icon who strutted around in her knee-high boots but could never quite get it right when it came to love. Or Demi, whose stint on the show got cut short but was given the nickname "baby gay" as she attempted to navigate her first queer relationship. And Fiorenza, the masc who wore her heart on her sleeve and loved hard — even if that led to her eventual dumping.

I just don't feel that same connection with the Love Island cast anymore, and it's even harder to weed out the genuine contestants. I'm what you call an OG Love Island stan. I've watched the show since the first series, and for a while, I was even a bit obsessed. Over the years, I've watched the show transform as it got more popular with new rules, set-ups and bombshells. I've also watched once genuine contestants morph into a slightly errr ... less version of that.

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They've also now made the questionable choice of bringing celebrity bombshells into the mix. Once you get a seasoned reality star in the villa like Joey Essex pulling out his 10-year-old catch phrase "Reem" and asking other islanders, "So why did you come on Love Island?" every five minutes, it breaks the fourth wall and completely ruins the organic dynamic between the Islanders. Fans of the show have been begging for more normality over people chasing fame, and dropping a celebrity into the mix does the exact opposite.

The examples of love and friendship on IKAG were also wildly different from what we've seen in recent years on Love Island. By day three in the villa we've had bitching, backstabbing, and drama amongst some of the girls, which I'm so over watching. I really enjoyed the healthy displays of love and female camaraderie amongst the group on IKAG. Despite disagreements, they were all very friendly and clearly had a lot of a respect for each other. If a girl started feeling like they liked someone else, they just told their partner instead of the toxic displays we often see on Love Island. It was four weeks of no love bombing, negging or toxic displays of love on my screen — bliss!

IKAG is also just a extremely important and meaningful show. At a time where the Conservative government are trying to create division and scapegoat the LGBTQ+ community, this dating show couldn't have come at a better time. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's recently attempted to take the spotlight off his abysmal performance in Parliament by proposing to ban teaching about gender identity in primary schools.

In each episode of the queer dating show, a number of insightful conversations are weaved in about the contestants lived experiences of being lesbian and bisexual in the UK. They discuss being a queer woman of colour and dismantle the harmful stereotypes around bisexual people being "greedy". In an emotional chat, the girls also discussed their struggles growing up as a queer woman in school and the negative connotations the word "lesbian" held at the time. The chat ended with them all consoling each other and reaffirming that they should be proud of who they are.

We recently caught up with contestant Priya, who revealed that a lot of women have approached her, thanking her for representing and speaking so openly about her experience with finding her sexuality on screen. She told PS UK: "I've had so many South Asian queer women come up to me and message me, it's truly amazing to see." It just shows how important these conversations around sexuality are for young people."

I'm not saying Love Island is a bad show. It still has many hilarious, light-hearted moments and does great things for pre-loved fashion awareness for one thing. However, I Kissed A Girl has highlighted that there is a way for dating shows to be inclusive, meaningful, healthy — and still be entertaining and popular amongst reality TV viewers.

Aaliyah Harry (she/her) is the associate editor at PS UK. She writes extensively across lifestyle, culture and beauty. Aaliyah also has a deep passion for telling stories and giving voice to the voiceless. Previously, she has contributed to Refinery29, Grazia UK and The Voice Newspaper.

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