Love Island causes controversy and I’m not just talking about how the relationships unfold in the house. It can create a response a bit like Marmite: you love or hate it.
So what do different people think about it?
Ophelia Stimpson, a 25-year-old Oxford grad, argues that the programme “operates on a number of levels and is actually quite a clever show because it does create a theatre, which panders to ‘intelligent’ viewers.” She explains: “It actually refers to the people in it as the ‘cast’ and ‘characters’, which is interesting. It’s hilarious because the way it’s edited makes it look like they can only comprehend the situation in front of them, with zero emotional depth.”
Other people really enjoy the pure comedy. There’s clever editing and there’s the simple relaying of conversations. “What’s the Lake District?”, Adam asked Sophie in 2016’s show. “It’s… a district with lots of lakes,” she started hesitantly. “You’ve got Belfast there… What’s the stretch of sea between England and Ireland?” she then asked the other contestants across the swimming pool. “The English Channel?” one of them suggested, which sent all lovers of Geography into a tailspin. This year we had Hayley’s confusion about Brexit.
Georgia: So what do you think about Brexit?
Hayley: What’s that?
Georgia: Where we’re leaving the European Union
Hayley: I seriously don’t have a clue…
Samira: So it was to leave the EU so we wouldn’t be part of Europe
Hayley: Oh the EU, yeah, yeah
Georgia: Which would mean like welfare, and like things we trade with would be cut down
Hayley: So does that mean we won’t have any trees?
Gerogia: No that’s got nothing to do with it Babe, that’s weather
Dani: Why wouldn’t we have trees?
Hayley: What are yous talking about?
Away from the humour, some people like it for anthropological reasons. “It’s so brutal it’s anthropologically interesting,” says Rosie Litterick, who studied at the University of York. “From a feminist point of view, all the men are awful and treat the women terribly.” It is definitely interesting to view how young people interact in this false competitive situation. The only risk could be that some viewers forget that it is a false competitive situation and think they are watching real life they should emulate.
Finally we’ll turn to Caitlin Moran who said: “I can defend Love Island for as long as I need to. Firstly, because it is the one programme my entire family will watch together. Even the dog seems to enjoy it, and I suspect that’s because it has equal intelligence to most of the people on TV. I don’t have any problems with watching dim people in their pants struggling with small life events; I find that very relaxing given the current political climate in the world.”
“But the thing I find most useful about it is that my children are teenagers, and this is incredibly educational. They’re horrified by the things they see, but at the same time they know that they’re going to be experiencing them in the next couple of years. It’s so hard to talk about sex or relationships with your teenage kids, but when you’re sitting and watching something like Love Island, and you’ve got all these situations happening it just allows you to go into a little rant or ask them questions about how it’s coming across to them or how they would deal with that situation. It’s saved me about a year and a half of embarrassing parenting, all whilst being wrapped up in a light entertainment format.” In class we talk about how the contestants deal with heartbreak, communication problems, taking relationships to the next step and what sort of behaviour is respectful.