Love Island is awful, but I still watch it!
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Often described as the lowest form of entertainment, Love Island is mind-numbing, but that’s the point. No one watches the show for educational reasons. You watch it to relax, to stop caring about the things in life that you do have to stress about. For an hour or so, you can zone out whilst watching good-looking people argue and flirt with each other.
Reality TV is popular for a reason; just because the show isn’t everybody’s cup of tea doesn’t mean it should be pulled. There’s an audience for it. Amid people’s stressful lives, having an hour to themselves watching Love Island might be the only opportunity they get to relax.
Love Island has proven to be incredibly successful in terms of viewership and audience engagement. The show has a massive following, with millions of viewers tuning in every season to watch the drama unfold. The show's popularity is not limited to the UK—the format has also been adapted and aired in various countries, such as Australia, Germany, and the US. The show has undergone several format changes over recent years, and it has introduced new elements to keep audiences tuning in. For example, it includes new challenges, tasks and twists that keep the islanders on their toes, all in the name of entertainment.
Furthermore, Love Island has become a cultural phenomenon. Its contestants, challenges, and catchphrases are mainstream, at least amongst young adults. The show has also spawned spin-off shows and merchandise, which has helped to solidify its place in popular culture. Everything from T-shirts, water bottles and cushions can be customised with your name written in the signature Love Island font.
Despite its popularity, Love Island has drawn criticism for its potential negative impact on the mental health of its contestants and its influence on its young audience. The show's intense and emotionally charged atmosphere, as well as the constant pressure to be in a relationship and be ‘liked’ by the audience, has sometimes proved incredibly stressful for contestants. There have been several reported cases of Love Island contestants experiencing depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after appearing on the show. Some contestants have even reported suicidal thoughts. Sadly, two previous contestants took their own lives after appearing on the show, as well as former presenter Caroline Flack.
Understandably, the show’s lack of care and support for contestants after the show airs has been highlighted. They’re often left to deal with the emotional fallout and instant fame on their own, without any proper guidance or support. In light of these incidents, Love Island producers made some changes to the show’s aftercare support. It now provides more extensive psychological support and counselling before and after the show, as well as a dedicated aftercare team to help contestants adjust to life after the cameras have finished rolling. However, some people have argued that these changes are not enough, and that the show still promotes a toxic and unhealthy culture that prioritises appearances and relationships over people’s mental health. Ultimately, the audience can never know how true contestants are being to themselves, especially when so much money and a possible career in TV dangles on the horizon.
It's good that the show’s producers are learning from their mistakes and improving the show as a product and also in terms of the wellbeing of contestants. It’s even committed to improving the environment. For instance, the producers have chosen against the fast fashion sponsorships they used to align with, instead opting to work with eBay, who predominantly feature pre-owned clothes. Being an impressionable, influential show, this should hopefully encourage people to recycle clothes, both as a seller and a buyer.
I reiterate: the show isn’t for everybody, but that doesn’t mean it should be removed from our screens. If positive messages can be spread via the show, this can only be a good thing. There are still things Love Island could improve on, but it seems that the producers and ITV are listening to their viewers, and that they’re clearly keen to make changes where necessary.