We here at Betches are no strangers to reality TV. The Bachelor franchise, The Real Housewives of any city, Vanderpump Rules—you name it, we’ve watched it, written about it, talked to the stars, and then inevitably offended them. Given that, I thought I’d seen it all. I was under the impression that the world of reality TV had nothing left to offer me. Man, have I never been more wrong in my entire life. It gives me sincere pleasure to introduce those of you who are unfamiliar to the UK’s single greatest export: Love Island.
Love Island is a British reality TV show currently in its fourth season that I started watching a couple weeks back while I was testing out a CBD drink. Needless to say, I was in the ideal headspace to embark on this adventure.
I only know about Love Island because I follow a hilarious girl on Twitter who talks about it nonstop, but you might know it from your Instagram explore page. On any given day, I feel like there are at least five memes about it, and I set out to find out why. My greatest regret is that I will never be able to truly repay the girl who introduced me to Love Island, but will spend the rest of my life trying. I will name my first child after her. I will bring her up in my wedding vows. Bolu, if you’re reading this, you have given my life renewed purpose. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
World Cup is over but Love Island still lives…ultra femme culture reigning supreme once again
— bolu babalola (@BeeBabs) July 16, 2018
The premise is this: Love Island is like if you combined Bachelor in Paradise (a bunch of hot single people stuffed into one vacation resort), Big Brother (because the audience gets to occasionally vote people off), and The Challenge (because the challenges are forced and unnecessarily sexual), but then you went one step further and gave everyone a British accent that range from Downton Abbey to the barely coherent ramblings of what I now understand to be someone from Liverpool. I physically cannot get enough of it.
The show is hosted by Caroline Flack, who, from my very limited understanding, seems to have a Ryan Seacrest-esque role in English pop culture. I only know who she is from the height of my One Direction days, because she was allegedly hooking up with a 17-year-old Harry Styles when she was 15 years his senior. I have nothing but admiration for the woman.
The Flack only shows up for the semi-regular occasions when Islanders are being voted off the show, a ceremony she presides over only after at least three people comment on how hot she is. It’s hard to watch people achieving your dreams, you know?
Me: Love Island is everything that Bachelor in Paradise wishes it could be.
I can’t speak to seasons one through three (yet), but season four started with 11 islanders who were forced to couple up and then immediately share a bed while they wrestled with their feelings (or lack thereof) for each other. But wait, it gets better—all the beds are in ONE ROOM. The only way to switch bedmates is to re-couple, a process that usually results in someone being sent home. New islanders are introduced throughout the course of the season which, wait for it, lasts all summer long. That may sound pretty par for the course for a summer dating show, until you find out that a new episode airs almost EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK.
If Shakespeare were alive to experience the comedy of errors that is Love Island, he would immediately break into tears because he himself had not thought of it first. Love Island is a modern day Midsummer Night’s Dream, except it lasts an entire summer and instead of fairies we have alcohol and a spiteful narrator who exists solely to mock the contestants.
On the surface, Love Island may just sound like an absolute sh*t show made up of outrageously attractive people making uncannily poor decisions, but it’s so much more than that. Unlike The Bachelor, where someone goes on two dates over the course of six weeks and then declares themselves to be head over heels in love with a near stranger, the contestants on Love Island approach relationships in a way that is eerily authentic. Beware, spoilers ahead.
You could have your faith in love rocked when a couple like Wes and Laura, who have been solid from day done, immediately fall apart the second that a Margo Robbie look-alike expresses even the slightest bit of interest. You could have that faith restored as you watch Dani, the daughter of an actor, and Jack, a man with very white teeth who sells pens, fall in love on national TV before your very eyes! I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that I would go to war for them.
You could find yourself sympathizing for Georgia when Josh abandons her for a girl he meets at Casa Amor, just days after she tells him she’s falling for him. You could then find yourself remembering why Georgia deserves almost zero sympathy as she turns on her friends and then yells “I’M G, I’M LOYAL, I AIN’T LIKE THAT BABES” into the camera for six straight hours.
You could find yourself screaming at your TV, wondering why the hot, well-spoken, kind, literal DOCTOR has found himself single week after week when the shitty personal trainer who has screwed over two different girls in the span of 11 days is still plowing through women. You could find yourself equally upset over the fact that the shining star of this show, Samira, is woefully under-appreciated amidst a sea of girls who are not as funny as her. Then you remember your own life and you’re like, wait, that adds up.
Basically, watching this show is just as painful and fascinating as watching your friends date, but in this case every single one of your friends is an Instagram model who says things like “bruv”.
Should you watch Love Island? Obviously. Will you love it? Maybe. Will you mock me in the comments for passionately ranting about it for almost 1,000 words? Undoubtedly. But that doesn’t matter, because I have Love Island, and honestly? That’s all I need.
Images: Courtesy of ITV; @BeeBabs/Twitter; we-kant-even/Tumblr
I have been described many ways, but calm has never been one of them. I won’t go on to detail my specific neuroses, because no one cares, but suffice to say that no one has ever looked at me and gone “Wow, what a chill girl. I bet she gets a fulfilling and peaceful eight hours of sleep a night.”
I don’t tell you this because I’m one of those people who thinks having anxiety in the year 2018 is a fun and relatable quirk rather than just a byproduct of being alive. We all know that person. Thinking of them, in fact, makes me less calm than I was mere moments ago. I tell you this so that you’ll understand that when I was offered the opportunity to test a drink that was “designed to combat stress, increase relaxation, and improve overall mental and physical well-being,” I didn’t even think twice. I typed YES so aggressively into my keyboard that the Y key flickers from time to time.
Me, at any given moment of any day:
A few weeks back I trialled a Dirty Lemon product called +collagen, a marine collagen peptide drink that was meant to “hydrate skin, increase elasticity, reduce wrinkles and trigger new collagen production.” I’d been seeing it all over Instagram and had wanted to test it out, so I asked Dirty Lemon to send me some so I could write about my experience. They kindly obliged, and what resulted was this article that some thought to be an undisclosed paid sponsorship. It wasn’t, but seeing as how I never properly addressed the circumstances, I get why that misconception occurred.
So when Dirty Lemon reached out to me with news of a new product that could potentially calm my ass down for a few hours, I thought it was a great opportunity to clear up my earlier gaff as well as attempt to experience this phenomenon that people have referred to as relaxing. A win-win in my book.
Enter: +cbd. That’s right ladies, I drank CBD for a week and as a result I now suffer from a crippling addiction to the British reality show, Love Island. Don’t see the correlation? Don’t worry, we’ll get there.
Like THC, the part of weed that actually gets you stoned, CBD is a cannabinoid derived from the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, there are no psychoactive properties to CBD. So instead of feeling high as hell and debating a run to Taco Bell, you are supposed to just feel at ease (and are probably still debating a run to Taco Bell but only because you genuinely enjoy it). In fact, many believe CBD to have wide-ranging medical benefits, from relieving anxiety, depression, arthritis and diabetes to staving off heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
Although still federally illegal, CBD has become all the rage since it made news in 2013 for its part in treating a 5-year-old with a severe epilepsy. More recently, it’s been making the rounds in high-end wellness circles, appearing in cocktails, juices, and even skin care products in major cities across the US. Seriously. People will put it in anything, including Instagram famous beauty tonics.
Before this experience, I was no stranger to CBD. I do, after all, live in Portland, Oregon, where at any given moment I am a stone’s throw away from some high-end boutique dispensary pedaling everything from your run-of-the-mill weed to cannabis-infused hot sauce. But I’d never drank CBD before, and I’d certainly never consumed 20mg of it at a time, which is what each bottle of +cbd contains.
Considering the fact that the cute CBD mints I’d been relying on previously were a measly 5mg a piece, this seemed a bit daunting to me. So much so that I reached out to Dirty Lemon for some kind of guidance. Surely there had to be regulations in place, like not mixing with alcohol, not operating vehicles, not going to work and attempting to complete real tasks, right?
Wrong. According to them, this calming elixir was safe to drink in any of these environments, which I absolutely refused to believe. In hindsight this could make sense, considering LA yoga moms are drinking it in their midmorning juice cleanses, but I was still shocked. So naturally, I immediately set out to test out the breadth of +cbd’s capabilities by drinking it in as many settings as possible.
After some brainstorming about the times in my life when I wished I could just chill out, I landed on four scenarios: at work, on a deadline, hungover, and when I’m literally just sitting at home attempting to force myself to relax. What I found through the course of these trials is that, more often than not, these four events bleed into one another rather than occur independent of each other, probably because I’m a human disaster.
I chose a specifically low-key afternoon to dive into +cbd: we had a going away party scheduled to start in a few hours, half the office was out, and my only real task to accomplish before the day ended was to watch a documentary about Nigerian football. If this is what your day-to-day life looks like, then you’ll probably be okay drinking +cbd at work. However, if you’re expected to do anything more than watch a movie, sit through a farewell tribute, and then head to a party, I wouldn’t recommend it.
True to Dirty Lemon’s claims, I was calm. So calm that I all I really wanted to do was sit on the couch and scroll through Tumblr. I excelled at watching that documentary, getting an in-depth review of a coworker’s wedding pictures, and eating fondue at the after party. But, had this been a day where I’d been expected to be anywhere near a normal amount of productive, we might have had a problem.
Conveniently enough for this article but inconveniently for my own existence, I found myself the morning after said going away party cripplingly hungover at work, stressed out about being both hungover and at work, facing a deadline, and dreaming of Hawaiian food. In short, truly living my best life.
Due to the experiences of the day before, I saved my +cbd as a reward for when I eventually left work, though the likelihood of surviving that long seemed rocky there for a while. By the time I drove my sorry ass home that night, takeout bag in hand, I was ready to melt into my couch and succumb to a few hours of trashy reality TV.
On a normal night, I would have gotten 30 minutes into The Bachelorette and four bites into my dinner before I passed out, living out the wild mid-twenty Friday nights that my teenage self no doubt dreamed of. But thanks to the numbing effects of +cbd and my own determination, I somehow found myself five hours deep in a binge of the UK’s single greatest export: Love Island. I can assure you that there is no hyperbole in the following statement: it has bewitched me, irrevocably, body and soul.
Attempting to Relax
Due to the hectic nature of work and the holiday weekend, I found myself spending the next couple nights at home on my couch, +cbd in hand, diving further into the world of British reality TV. All I can say is that they were the best nights of my life. Sometimes I was stressed, sometimes I was hungover, most of the time I was watching Love Island, but through it all, the +cbd was there to make me not care.
I laughed, I cried, I lamented the logistics of what I’ve now come to understand is a Liverpool accent. I found love in a truly hopeless place: hungover on my couch, and I like to think +cbd played a vital role in that.
On a Deadline
Things that +cbd is great for: combatting the extreme Sunday scaries that always seem to accompany the end of a holiday weekend.
Things that +cbd isn’t great for: helping you finish writing an article about +cbd on the Sunday at the end of a holiday weekend.
I found myself last night, stressed out, suffering from a debilitating case of writer’s block and even more debilitating case of Love Island withdrawal due to the fact that Hulu has a week long delay on episodes, facing a nearly blank word document and eyeing the last +cbd in my fridge.
Cut to 45 minutes later, when I was no longer concerned about things like word counts or work days and suddenly the new owner of a VPN, purchased specifically so I could watch Love Island in real time from the ITV2 website.
Am I proud? Yeah. Did I wake up, even more stressed at 5am to finish this? Yeah. Would I do it again? I think you know the answer to that question.
In short, +cbd was a good time and accomplished what it set out to do: help me relax. I’m not sure I’m a calmer person as a whole or suddenly possess a healthier mental state, but I do have a new show to discuss ad nauseam to the distress of every single one of my coworkers. And you know what? That’s so much better.
Images: Giphy (3)