Love Island UK 2023: The trials and tribulations of being a sexy single
A recap of the messy and steamy Casa Amor affairs that led to the season finale.
Spoiler Warning: Article mentions winners of Love Island UK, Season 9.
Love Island UK is a reality dating TV show that follows a group of single people who move to a luxury villa, away from civilization, to find love. Throughout the show, unannounced added contestants, called “bombshells,” test the islander’s relationships—along with kissing challenges and re-couplings. A £50,000 cash prize is awarded to the couple who wins the votes of the public in the final round—viewers also play an active role in deciding the fate of pairs during the season.
Throughout the season, the Love Island couples test their viability with a four- to five-day retreat to Casa Amor, where the boys and girls are separated and introduced to new bombshells. This experience culminates in an explosive recoupling, where the girls return to the villa—either alone or with a new arm candy—to see if their love interest has stayed loyal.
After three months of witnessing 18 singles (each with the emotional intelligence of a squirrel) try to find their soulmates in the villa (which isn’t even on an island by the way), we thought the best way to summarize our viewing experience was to provide a backstory of the four couples that made it to the finals.
Shaq and Tanya (Fourth place)
Prior to Casa Amor, Shaq and Tanya were the strongest couple. They had spent the night together in private at the “Hideaway,” said “I love you,” and labeled themselves as exclusive. So, when Tanya returned to the villa with her Casa-boo Martin, Shaq, along with the rest of the boys, were in shock. During Casa Amor, Shaq chose not to share a bed with any of the bombshells. He instead slept through the cold Cape Town nights on the outdoor day-beds—all while Tanya was cuddling up to Martin only one day after meeting him.
Soon after her return, Tanya realized that perhaps her connection with Martin was based solely on the excitement of, well, cheating, so she put Shaq on the spot in front of the whole villa and asked him to forgive her. To us, it really seemed like he had no choice but to forgive her. With the public’s (and Shaq’s sister’s) hatred of Tanya, we weren’t surprised to find them in the bottom, and we were glad that Tanya couldn’t gaslight herself out of this loss.
Tom and Samie (Third place)
Similar to Shaq and Tanya, Tom and Samie were also put to the test during Casa Amor—although this time, Samie stayed loyal while Tom spent the getaway making out and sneaking around on the terrace with bombshell Lydia. We weren’t surprised about Tom’s actions—considering that throughout the season he had the habit of taking any girl with a pulse up to the terrace to lock lips, despite his claims of loyalty to his partners. In the end, he was nicknamed “Terrace Tom” by the cast. Although Tom did not choose to re-couple and the two stayed together, during “Movie Night,” where steamy Casa clips were revealed, Tom’s infidelity was publicized to Samie, causing a huge rift in their relationship.
In a plea for forgiveness, Tom pulled Samie aside to read a beautiful, vulnerable, third-grade-level poem that he wrote. Lines like, “You’re honestly the most stunning girl that I’ve ever seen/For me I keep pinching myself because it really feels like a dream” and “You deserve the world, you truly do/and with everything going on, I just can’t lose you” immediately healed Samie from the emotional trauma caused by being cheated on.
Ron and Lana (Second place)
Like Shaq and Tanya, Ron and Lana were an original couple from the first coupling in episode one. At the start, the two seemed perfect for each other. But Ron kept insisting that he could not commit to Lana just yet because he wanted “to be sure.” So, to “be sure,” he tested the waters with four other girls. Lana somehow forgave him.
Lana also had a weak moment—rightfully so, after being consistently breadcrummed by who she was in love with. In a shocking re-coupling mid-season, Lana coupled up with Casey—a new bombshell—to get back at Ron. She regretted her decision in an hour and kissed Ron in front of Casey the next night—this was Casey’s villain origin story. But despite having no sexual chemistry and three eyes between the two of them (yes, Ron has a glass eye), the two remained fan favourites.
Kai and Sanam (Winners)
Kai was introduced as part of the original cast during episode one, and he quickly became one of the most hated cast members due to his dry personality (and dry lips). For the first two weeks, he was consistently voted by the public into the bottom three contenders. However, throughout the season, Kai’s public image made an incredible redemption. He went from being a boring, monotone man with a dry sense of humor, to a boring, monotone man with a dry sense of humor coupled up with the fan-favourite-sweetheart, Sanam—one of the bombshells introduced during Casa Amor and the only one that made it to the finals.
Soon, their relationship blossomed into a genuine union of two unproblematic people. Looking back at the season, although they were late bloomers, they were the only couple to not have major drama with each other. This gave us all a glimmer of hope, suggesting that pure love wins over toxic love. Also, the Trinidadian and Jamaican love birds are the first couple of colour to take the prize home.
As the three of us watched the season together, we sent countless voice memos about the insufferable islanders, and constantly asked each other about what we would do in the same situations. We learned and reinforced valuable lessons about what it means to be in love with someone else. Whether it was Ron’s hesitance to stay loyal to Lana, or Tanya’s refusal to commit to an established relationship after one “ick,” through these 57 episodes, we all became better people by realizing that there’s so much worse out there.