Love Island fans, scientists have some very good news for you

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Kayleigh Dray

Whether we are ready to admit it in public or not, the majority of us are spending our nights glued to our TV screens – and it’s all the fault of Love Island.

Incredibly easy viewing, and undeniably trashy, the dating show definitely doesn’t require all that much brain power to figure out what’s going on. Which, in turn, makes the ITV2 series the perfect show to watch at 9pm on a Sunday evening: what better way to unwind ahead of the working week than by watching a group of swimwear-clad twenty-somethings navigate the many ups and downs of the dating world, eh?

However, it seems as if our fascination with Love Island is actually indicative of our intelligence levels – and not in the way you might expect.

That’s right: according to a study published in the journal Poetics, it's the smartest people who love the “dumbest” movies and TV shows.

“At first glance, it seems paradoxical that someone should deliberately watch badly made, embarrassing, and sometimes even disturbing films and take pleasure in them,” explains lead author Keyvan Sarkhosh, a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics.

However, as he and his team have since proven, trashy TV and films are generally beloved by “cultural omnivores” the world over.

After conducting an in-depth online survey, Sarkhosh and his fellow researchers found that a show or film “can be identified as cheap and worthless ‘trash’ and still be embraced and re-evaluated as providing positive enjoyment”.

They explain: “The data reveal that trash films are, indeed, identified as ‘cheap’ and hence as a variety of low-budget films.

“At the same time, viewers attribute to trash films not just amusing/entertaining qualities, but also a positive, transgressive deviance from the cinematic mainstream, and their appreciation of these films is coupled with marked preferences for art cinema.”

They conclude: “The majority of trash film fans appear to be well-educated cultural ‘omnivores’, and they conceive of their preference for trash films in terms of an ironic viewing stance.”

That’s right, y’all: we’re all geniuses and we’ve all been watching Love Island ironically all this time. No, we’re not actually invested in Amber, Jonny, Camilla, Kem, and the gang, we don’t actually care who ends up with whom, and we certainly don’t give a damn about where the women bought their plethora of brightly-coloured bikinis.

We just… we just watch the show to broaden our minds, to add some variety to all of those deep and meaningful docu-dramas and indie artsy films we usually watch, and because we’re so very, very, very smart.

Now, let’s sit down and have an intelligent conversation about last night’s shock re-coupling session, shall we? Because our super-sized brains can’t handle the fact that Amber and Kem went their separate ways (for now, anyway – we all know they’re getting back together, right?).

Images: ITV2


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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