Love Island is back! It will be the TV show of the Summer, with viewers hooked to their screens for the next eight weeks, watching the trials and tribulations of a bunch of young adults finding love.
I’m not watching it though.
No, I’m not being snobby. I don’t find it beneath me – I’ve actually written (several times) about how much I love it. I really did, it’s a fun and frothy TV Show that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Catchphrases and Memes from the show quickly find themselves into common parlance, it really has become a TV ‘Event’ each year. Judging by Social Media – the same thing is happening again this year. Part of me really wants to join in with it all, get sucked in, and lose hours of my life to it all.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis who took their own lives after being ‘Islanders’ in the past. I’ve written about them too after the whole Jeremy Kyle thing a few weeks ago. As time passes, people will forget, and I think ITV want people to forget. They don’t want sadness and death lingering above one of their biggest banking shows. They want people to watch, make it trend, buy the merch and enjoy it all.
When the new line-up of Islanders was announced, part of me wondered which one might not be as happy as they look. Which one beneath the veneers and fillers is hiding their sadness? Which one might it all end up being a bit too much for? I’m aware that it’s a dark thing to think. But no-one really considered that when Sophie and Mike entered the villa. They were just people ready to parade around on TV and find ‘Love’, no-one really stopped to ponder the result of their 15 minutes of fame coming to an end. So much is thrown at these people, Love, Hate, Money, Fame it’s not easy for MASSIVE Stars, let alone someone scouted for looking hot on Instagram. Even with the best ‘aftercare’ in the world, it could all become too much for someone again.
ITV are always quick to point out that Love Island isn’t a ‘Reality’ show – it’s ‘Entertainment’. Which, yes, it is. However, the fame that these young stars find, so quickly and aggressively is clearly too much. I don’t feel right supporting a show where a percentage of people die after being on it. You could (and people have) argue that Sophie and Mike may have taken the same path WITHOUT being on the show. Perhaps? We’ll never know that for sure, we can never ask them those kinds of questions.
I think another area where the cracks were starting to show for me on Love Island is the lack of diversity. We’ve got such a rich culture of black and ethnic minorities in this country, all the wonderful, incredible LGBT+ folk out there. Yet they are hardly represented, Love Island is whiter and straighter than a Nigel Farage rally. They aren’t accurately representing the younger people of today, we’re all told we need to be more open and tolerant of others. Yet it’s the same toned, filled and tweaked (largely white) people. It would be amazing to see some Gay people in there, some kind of bi-straight-trans love triangle.
That’s not entertaining. When challenged about this Love Island’s creative director Richard Cowles tried to justify the line-up by saying
“First and foremost, it’s an entertainment show and it’s about people wanting to watch who you’ve got on screen falling in love with one another. Yes, we want to be as representative as possible but we also want them to be attracted to one another.”
“We want it to be representative as possible but we also want them to be attracted to one another” feels like a horrid thing to say. Is anyone who isn’t straight, white, and toned attractive? We’re all bloody doomed! Plus the notion it’s about ‘falling in love’ is getting harder to comprehend as each series comes and goes. These relationships forged in the Villa under a Truman Show-esque environment don’t tend to last long in the real world. Once everyone’s joint contracts with the teeth whitening / botox / fitness shakes companies are up, so seemingly are the relationships.
Maybe I’m too old for Love Island? Maybe I’m too cynical for it?
Maybe I’ve just been so close to the edge of the precipice that Mike and Sophie fell into, that I want to stop others from getting there, in my own tiny, silly way?
It’s probably somewhere in-between all of those things. I’m not going to sneer at those who watch it. I’m not going to be muting hashtags and unfollowing those who do. We all have a choice, and mine is to decline ITV2’s offer of a ‘Summer of Love’. I think that I’ve fallen out of Love Island.