If you haven’t stumbled upon the ITV2 TV series Love Island then I will leave it to the Independent to explain:
It’s essentially Big Brother – with contestants being slowly voted out of a house (in this case, a Mallorcan villa) by the public and the last pair standing winning £50,000 – only the road to victory is paved with Machiavellian gossiping and condom wrappers. Ostensibly, the ITV2 show is about finding love, but going far in it seems to require successfully walking the tightrope of being honourable without being boring. I should also note it’s quite meta in the sense that the rules literally don’t matter and are changed at the producers’ whim.
This year’s Love Island has proved hugely popular. The show has become must-see viewing amongst mainly female (67.4%) viewers and under 35s (63.6%). It’s already appeared on the wordpress this year for its discussion on feminism. Last week the a contestant from the show, Chris, was praised for openly showing his emotions and breaking the stereotype that men shouldn’t cry. Chris had been involved with fellow contestant Olivia Attwood whilst in the villa, and was left in tears when she decided to cool things off. In one scene Olivia told Chris not to cry again; which led many viewers to accuse her of being “cold-hearted” and “harsh”. In fact some people went so far as saying that if it had been the other way round she would have been seen as a victim of bullying.
On this Wednesday’s show the couples all became immediate parents with the show’s producers providing each couple with baby dolls. After just a short while Chris said, “I think this morning he has already brought out an emotional side in me. With Olivia, we have stopped the mishaps we’ve had together and we’ve got to focus on the baby now, because ultimately he is our main responsibility.” I tell you this programme can be an interesting way to learn about life skills!
Laura Hamzic who works for Brook, a sexual health charity for young people, would agree with me, saying that shows like Love Island can provide young people with an entry point for discussion by reconciling sex with relationships.
“I think we’re still quite quick to judge young people as being sexually irresponsible and promiscuous and that’s something we would challenge,” she says. “They are starved of places to discuss sex and relationships in controlled environments like school, because sex education is very poor. Love Island isn’t exactly the best place to learn about sex and relationships, but it’s better than porn.”
Love Island’s commissioning editor Amanda Stavri agrees, pointing out that the key to the show’s success is relationships rather than sex. “Our feeling is if you’re inviting 12 singletons to live together in the sun, things are gonna get heated under the covers,” she says. “But it’s not salacious, it’s not grubby, it’s not explicit. We’re more interested in the story of the couple who have chosen to take their relationship to the next level.”
If you’re not down with the kids and their lingo then BBC Three have even provided a useful dictionary according Love Island so you can better understand the conversations.
If all this has whetted your appetite for Love Island you can catch up on episodes via the ITV Hub.