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Why 2016 Was Officially The Golden Year Of ‘Love Island’

Why 2016 Was Officially The Golden Year Of ‘Love Island’

Don't @ me...

Joanna Freedman

Joanna Freedman

Remember the good old days, when Love Island was still new and exciting?

You know, before it was on twice a year and you could practically see all the contestants daydreaming about the Pretty Little Thing contracts awaiting them in the outside world...

This year, Winter Love Island's opening night brought in one million fewer viewers that the series prior.

And it's not surprising, really, considering ITV decided to put all its eggs in one basket and overload us with a second South African villa and group after group of islanders who are basically all carbon copies of each other.

This year's islanders are failing to draw in ratings (

If you cast your mind back - four years back, to be precise - you'll remember that once upon a time, the Love Island villa was actually full of much more normal, relatable people, like you and me.

Sure, their bikini bodies were still toned to perfection, but the 2016 cohort of islanders weren't well versed in the world of reality TV stardom, because influencer culture was still in its infancy.

They weren't there for the brand deals and the followers, they were simply there for a free holiday and a tan, and at most a bit of cash in their pockets.

Their guards were down; they were completely themselves with little fear for the consequences - and naturally, this led to some absolutely iconic TV moments.

Let's hark back and remember the golden age of Love Island...

The couples actually liked each other

Cara De La Hoyde and Nathan Massey are now married with a baby (

In recent years, your favourite Love Island couple likely split mere weeks after meeting on the show, when the buzz of the interviews and press tours came to an end.

But the 2016 cohort were the real deal. So, much so, that the series boasts the highest success rate of any year so far, with two couples still together four years later.

Winners Nathan Massey and Cara De La Hoyde met on the very first day of the series, and now they're married with a three year old son.

Meanwhile Alex Bowen and Olivia Buckland proved their romance was the real deal, too, tying the knot after the show, and going on to solidify themselves as one of the most memorable Love Island couples ever.

There were dramatic walkouts

Rykard decided to leave with Rachel (

If you needed yet more proof that this bunch of islanders really liked each other, just look at the fact that multiple stars followed their hearts and walked out voluntarily.

First, there was Rykard Jenkins' decision to leave with Rachel Fenton after she was booted from the villa.

And not long afterwards, the late Sophie Gradon made the decision to leave too, confessing she was struggling to get over Tom Powell.

It was a lot more X-rated

We used to see a lot more of the islanders' romping (

Let's be sells, and back in the day, ITV didn't shy away from showing us the full extent of the islanders' romping.

There was Sophie Gradon and Tom Powell's bonk in the cupboard, Emma Woodham whipping the covers off and having sex with Terry Walsh in front of the whole villa and that infamous Zara Holland and Alex Bowen moment...

Back in series two, the islanders weren't embarrassed about their romping. In fact, they would even get busy in the middle of the day.

Emma and Terry had sex in front of the whole villa (

Who remembers when Malin Andersson and Terry were literally cheered on while performing a sex act in the middle of the crowded bedroom?

Sure, it was low brow. But that's why we loved it.

There were literal dogs in the villa

The islanders had a dog training challenge (

Back in 2016 not only did the couples have to look after babies, but they had a dog training challenge, too - and obviously it was our favourite episode of all time.

The furry pooches made themselves right at home in the villa, nestling into suitcases and playing in the garden within minutes of arriving.

We'd honestly rather watch these pups over any human contestants, tbh.

Olivia and Rykard's secret tryst

Rykard and Olivia were the romp nobody saw coming (

Love Island has had some scandals in its time, but none have come close to Olivia Buckland and Rykard Jenkins' secret night of passion.

The pair had been firm friends throughout their time in the villa together, without a hint of romance between them, but once, when the lights turned out, the couple decided to take things further (in the bed right next to Rachel Fenton of all places).

The duo managed to keep their tryst a secret from Rachel for the duration of the time they were in the villa; and while she wasn't best pleased when she found out on the outside, she stayed with the personal trainer nonetheless.

How he talked his way out of that one we'll never know...

Kady and Malia's showdown

Malia was kicked out of the villa not long after arriving (

It wasn't just walkouts that left us stunned during the second series of Love Island, as we also saw our first ever islander being booted off the show.

Malia Arkian had barely stepped foot in the villa when her Love Island dream came crumbling down, following an epic showdown with Kady McDermott.

Kady had accidentally spilt her drink on the new girl after she took Scott Thomas on a date, and Malia assumed she'd done it on purpose.

From there, the incident spiralled dramatically out of control, and Malia ended up pushing Kady, resulting in her removal.

Scott asking Kady to be his girlfriend

Scott Thomas asked Kady out in the sweetest way imaginable (

Not a series of Love Island goes by these days without a grand, romantic gesture from one of the islanders.

In summer, Tommy Fury created a treasure hunt for Molly-Mae Hague, and Jordan Hames took Anna Vakili on a tour of the villa, visiting all the areas they'd shared milestones as a couple.

But in our eyes, Scott Thomas is still the OG Love Island romantic, after he enlisted all the islanders to help ask Kady McDermott out.

It was honestly like something out of a movie: Scott had asked all the boys to distract Kady while he spelt out 'Be My GF' with towels. They then told her to look out the bedroom window, where he sat waiting patiently down below.

Take note all future partners. This is the only way we want to be asked out...

We had our first and only same sex couple

Sophie Gradon and Katie Salmon were the show's first same sex couple (

Believe it or not, the second series of Love Island is also the only one in which two islanders decided to form a same sex couple.

Sophie Gradon and Katie Salmon just couldn't deny their attraction to each other after they met on the ITV show, and as a result they changed the game and chose each other in the recoupling.

While the pair didn't work out, and Sophie eventually ended up leaving alone, the moment was hailed a huge breakthrough for bisexual representation on screen.

They threw Tom's ex into the mix

Tom's ex Emma Woodhams and Sophie Gradon clashed when she entered the villa (

Nowadays, amid all the twists and turns of modern day Love Island, throwing an ex partner in doesn't feel all that dramatic.

But in series two, Emma Woodhams' arrival on the scene left the nation's jaws on the floor.

Welsh beauty Emma had previously dated Tom Powell outside the villa, and while she eventually ended up with Terry Walsh instead, she certainly had the desired affect and ruffled a few feathers with Sophie Gradon first.

Oh, the drama.

The Miss GB scandal

Zara Holland was stripped of her Miss GB crown (

Who remembers when Zara Holland decided to spend a night in the hideaway with Alex Bowen only to have her Miss GB title taken away from her?

It was a painful watch, and left Zara crushed. But the moment triggered a pivotally important nationwide discussion about slut shaming, and an inspirational speech from Sophie Gradon that we'll never forget.

Comforting Zara amid the ordeal, Sophie said: "Life shouldn't be about judging one another. For example, judging a young woman for enjoying herself.

Sophie Gradon famously stuck up for Zara (

"A young woman who hasn't harmed anyone but a woman who has faced a torrent of judgemental and close minded opinions since leaving Love Island.

"As an ex Miss Newcastle and Miss GB I can say that it's time people moved forward from their old fashioned thinking and accepted the simple fact that women like to have sex."

These words still resonate so strongly four years later.

All *that* Malin and Terry drama

Malin Andersson's return will go down in history (

Mid-way through series two, if we had to place our bets on one couple doing the distance it would have been Malin Andersson and Terry Walsh, all the way.

But fast forward a few days and Malin had been thrown out of the villa while Terry had already moved on to Tom Powell's ex, Emma Woodham. It was a truly savage move.

Horrified from the sidelines, Love Island fans launched what can only be described as a nationwide campaign to send Malin back in. And believe it or not, ITV listened.

We'll never forget Terry's face when he spots Malin sashaying towards him, fully geared up to have the showdown of all showdowns.

Terry Walsh's reaction will go down in history (


Alex Bowen

Alex Bowen in the Love Island villa (

We rest our case.

Featured Image Credit: ITV

Topics: Love Island