Last year it was Amber Gill; done wrong by her ‘chaldish’ former lover, Michael. The previous year it was Laura Anderson, who found herself cast aside for villa pal Megan Barton Hanson because Wes was happy – but he could be happier.
And then – 2017; the year Love Island captured our hearts – we collectively rooted for Camilla Thurlow, the posh-duck-out-of-water, who finally found a hot dude who understood feminism; Jamie.
Every season we have one. One girl who who overcomes romantic adversity, leaves f***boys in her wake and emerges victorious; recoupling with the nation’s love on Love Island.
Today, as the nation prepares spitballs to throw at Callum’s head (and, apparently, a fair few Ofcom complaints) I’m calling it. Shaughna Phillips is Our Girl of 2020.
The signs were clear from the beginning. Her witty, funny turns of phrase, her smart-girl-behind-the-looks schtick, her wizened woman done with scaffolders doing her wrong. She was hilarious from the off, but also instantly showed signs of heartache potential.
This is key to becoming the girl we root for. Brits love an underdog in a man (see Dr Alex George) but in a woman – we just love a heartbroken girl rising from the ashes. Shaughna’s early admission that she had been hurt before and was done with it, was the first red flag. The fact she then coupled up with Callum, who practically had “I Am Going To Let You Down” written on his forehead, was the next.
“She’s taken ma man!” was the first of many hilarious strops she threw – when Eve pinched Callum, and when Rebecca’s 6ft 100 Greek Goddess performance sent Callum’s heart into cardiac arrest. It was funny- sure- but it was also incredibly revealing.
Shaughna has made no attempt to hide her insecurities; openly noting other women’s attractiveness, wearing all of her emotions on her sleeve – from bitterness to neediness – and spooling out her own self-deprecation, and her awareness of this – on screen. Her conversations with Paige (please someone give them a podcast asap) during their torturous separation from Calum and Finn this week; were even more eye-opening. Shaughna fretted Callum would fall for a “natural beauty” who did charity work. It was comedic; these two stunning, funny, smart women, worrying that someone thinner and hotter and better than them would sweep up their men, but it was also sad, particularly when Shaughna’s worst fears were manifested in Molly.
The nation rallies behind a woman like Shaughna, because Shaughna is all of us. Shaughna is every woman who doubts herself, who has ever had her heart broken and her trust shattered. She is bitter and hardened by previous disappointments, and to see her trust so publicly broken again, is the kind of emotional catastrophe that will make a nation’s sweetheart of her. The sway of support for her is palpable; millions of viewers willing her to find a man deserving of her spot-cream covered, joyous realness.
But she is also; much like the Ambers and Lauras that went before her; a true champion of other women; a trait that has made her an instant favourite among female viewers. Shaughna’s support for all the women in the villa was solidified in one beautiful throwaway moment at last night’s dramatic recoupling. As Demi had her own heart publicly cast aside by Nas, and just as she was awaiting a similar fate, Shaughna called out to her friend in solidarity, and told her to keep her head up.
So, keep your head up Shaughna. The nation’s behind you.