Give Luke M and Luke T the 50k – they are Love Island's best couple

I must admit, I was fairly late to the Love Island game.

After steadfastly ignoring it for a few years, I leapt into the pool last summer when Maura Higgins told that guy – whose face I can’t picture, name I can’t remember, and who presumably has as many Boohoo endorsements as I do – to do one.

After that, I was all in, and while I’ve enjoyed the romantic entanglements and the drama, it’s the friendship couples that really keep me going: Ovie and Amber’s naturally effervescent chemistry; Sophie and Leanne’s private investigation company; and most of all: The Lukes.

Let’s cast our minds back to a fortnight ago when the villa teased a couple of new additions: that classic high-definition, toe-to-head shot of contestants sashaying down the runway towards neon-lit paradise.

That’s when we first met Lukes Trotman and Mabbott. Even then, something felt different. When new Islanders enter it’s often in the spirit of combat: blue-steely glares and barber-fresh haircuts.

The Lukes bucked the trend: Trotman with a white patterned shirt, Mabbott a big cheesy grin. They embraced each other as they walked toward their destiny – wriggly fingers (you know? Like a handshake but just fingers) and a big arm round the shoulder. Were they friends already? Had they known each other before? No. This was just an instant connection. Impossible to fake.

Since then, their journeys have been pretty different. Luke T has been grand, coupling up with Siannise, surviving Casa Amor, and rehabilitating her public persona in the process, but Luke M has had a bit of a hard time.

First he had to deal with being a pawn in the middle of Jess and Mike and then, after bringing Natalia back from Casa Amor, he was quickly binned off, with Natalia basically admitting she’d used him as a ticket to the main villa. In last night’s show he genuinely looked quite gutted, and the first person he pulled to chat it through with? Luke T. 

There is a level of physical and emotional intimacy on display with The Lukes, which is rarely seen in the villa’s male friendships, with the possible exception of Curtis and Tommy from last summer.

When Luke M said he was preparing to sleep on the couch, Luke T told him he’d join him if he wanted. When Luke T returned from The Hideaway with Siannise, the first thing he did was leap into bed with Luke M and give him a cuddle.

In a now beautifully viral moment, Luke T stepped in to warm up Luke M’s legs without a second thought. The joy is reciprocated too – when Luke T returned from Casa Amor, having stayed loyal, the look on Luke M’s face was majestic: true reflected joy. 

It’s been discussed for a few years now how male friendship is in crisis. A study from 2015 carried out by Movember revealed that over 2.5million men have no close friends, linking the stat with the growing mental health crisis among young men in particular.

More alarming is research, which shows that men are just as likely to want emotional intimacy in a relationship as women, but that our ideas around masculinity put pay to this sustaining itself in adulthood – stoicism, strength and bravado are all at odds with the kind of vulnerability we need. With The Lukes we see this playing out in a very natural, un-showy way.

Incidentally, it’s interesting watching how easy it is for both of them to open up in comparison to say Callum, who clearly finds it difficult to articulate his emotions. We’ve seen snapshots of Callum being funny or animated when he’s talking about cooking or Manchester, but he’s been called out by both Shaughna and Molly for not reading situations correctly. 

Whenever this kind of friendship pops up between men in popular culture – tactile, emotional, genuine – the word ‘Bromance’ is used to describe it. It’s cute, sure, but guys: you can have this too, it could be the norm.

Tell your friends you love them, tell them they look great, buoy them when they’re down and rub their legs when they get cold. The Lukes are showing us just what male friendships could be. Nay, what they should be.

Give them the £50k. 

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