I’m going to start with the disclaimer that I am an avid Love Island fan. My own life tends to have a serious lack of drama (I’m not complaining about this), so the thought of spending 6-8 weeks watching strangers argue and tussle in each other’s love lives is quite exciting. The unfortunate passing of Sophie Gradon this month has shown a darker, more dangerous side to reality television, but the question is – are we to blame?
Yes, I know they’ve signed themselves up for this, but is the concept of watching people carry out their lives on television for our own entertainment normal? Sophie Gradon said in an interview that entering the Love Island villa if you have mental health problem is a very bad idea. Zara Holland then backed this up, saying she was left feeling ‘haunted’ and ‘depressed after her time on the show. It’s not hard to see why. Can you imagine spending every waking day being told when to wake up, when to go to sleep and what to talk about? This whole show is set up for our viewing pleasure, so if producers don’t think there’s enough happening… they’ll set about trying to shake things up just so we don’t get bored.
I mean, all these rumours about Jack’s ex entering the villa. It’s one thing bumping into your ex in Tesco, but having them be flown into the villa just to rile you up? It’s the stuff of nightmares – there’s definitely no hiding in the biscuits aisle pretending you’ve not spotted them.
Alongside your every move inside the villa being judged, there’s also what’s being discussed on the outside to contest with. You would never tell a stranger she has **** eyebrows or laugh at someone you don’t know for being a little sunburnt on holiday. While this programme is on, things on social media seem to turn a little bit vicious. Twitter timelines are filled with comments about someone’s behaviour, Instagram accounts are spammed with hurtful comments about people’s lips.
Is it any wonder the young people come out of this with mental health issues? Imagine living a quiet, normal life one day and the next, emerging from the villa to people making assumptions about you. I certainly couldn’t do it. It’s not so bad if, like Rosie, you can hold your own against the Piers Morgans of the world, but for most people it must be a huge shock to the system.
Love made to last?
Do people enter the love island villa for love or for fame? While that’s a personal decision, you can’t deny the fact that love in the villa has some significant differences from life on the outside. There have been conversations about moving in with each other a week after meeting someone. A WEEK. I’d be having difficulty committing to dinner with someone after just 7 days. I know it’s a lot more intense and things may progress faster spending all day every day with someone, but sheeeeeesh.
There’s no thought given to how things are going to work on the outside when they return to their jobs and hometowns. I mean, can you really see Laura and Wes working out in the long run? In some ways, Love Island is a bit of a social experiment. I think you could fall in love with anyone if you’re locked in a villa with them for weeks on end. It’s human nature. It’d be interesting to see how the couples that make it to the end manage to cope with long-distance relationships and the temptation of other people back in sunny England. No matter how they got together, heartbreak is still heartbreak.
We’ve all felt a little insecure and ashamed of our own bodies at times. You wish your hair was longer, your legs were a little thinner or your nose wasn’t so prominent. Imagine having people’s first impressions of you being entirely based on your appearance. Take the initial coupling for example. The girls all lined up, clad in skimpy bikinis, waiting to be picked by the boys entering the villa for how they look. Slightly reminiscent of a meat market, wouldn’t you say?
The whole of the UK seemed to have their hearts broken when nobody picked Alex on day one. In the past few days we’ve seen his ‘nice guy’ image get worn away and although everyone will have their own opinions on how that showdown with Ellie went down, you just don’t know what’s going on in his head. He was rejected by the girls on his first day in the villa and every girl since has opted for abs over intelligence. You can kind of see why he took the rejection by Ellie so personally.
I know there’s been some information thrown about that the Love Island villa has its own psychologist handy for the contestants, but what’s out there for them following the show? Being thrust into the limelight has to have it’s effects on them. Whether they get the fame they were after or not, without the appropriate aftercare and support systems it’s got to be tough integrating back into their old lives with a few thousand more IG followers.
Although Love Island is great viewing, there are times when I’m reminded that these are normal people with hopes, dreams, and feelings. Is it right for us to keep feeding our appetite for drama at the expense of other people and their mental health? As for now, I’m going to keep watching, but I think there needs to be more conversation on what this kind of exposure can do to people in the long run.
I’d be so interested to see what you think!