Love Island recently sparked controversy with 3,600 Ofcom complaints made about the show in just one week. This isn’t anything new, people are always complaining about the show, especially on Twitter and other social media platforms. These complaints are usually about the toxic relationships, the bullying, or the misogynistic behaviour displayed by the boys. Some viewers are asking if Love Island is promoting toxic male behaviour for the purpose of adding drama and increasing views.
Love Island’s drama and conflict
Love Island is a reality show like all others: it’s built on drama. The crazier things get, the more people will talk about it, reeling in even more viewers. More viewers equals more success, more success equals more money, which keeps the show running. When you’re watching TV, it can become easy to forget that the people in the villa are real people, with real lives. So, with this in mind, is it healthy to spark drama for the sake of entertainment?
Since its release, Love Island has always caused controversy. In a survey, 1 in 4 of young people said that reality TV shows make them conscious of their body image. Love Island arguably harms both its viewers and its contestants, with unrealistic body standards, unhealthy relationships, and psychological distress used as a form of entertainment. Season 8 in particular has come under fire because of the behaviour of the boys, who are displaying sexist behaviour.
Toxic male behaviour
The recent criticism came after the villa’s movie night, where contestants had to watch their partners being ‘unfaithful’. The movie night is a problem in itself, as it encourages partners to mistrust each other and it allows them to surveil each other when their partner is not around. One of the biggest dramas that occurred from these ‘movies’ was contestant Luca Bish’s reaction to Gemma Owen supposedly flirting with a newcomer. It’s important to mention that Gemma is only nineteen-years-old, younger than a massive percentage of university students. It’s undoubtedly unhealthy to expose a teenage girl to this sort of toxic, controlling behaviour for the sake of views.
The movie night also caused conflict between Davide Sanclimenti and Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu. These two have been the fan favourites of the season, but the ‘I Know What Ekin-Su Did Last Summer’ clips revealed her in bed with George Tasker. Despite Ekin-Su’s reassurances that she pushed George away and that nothing happened, Davide branded her a ‘liar’.
Arguments between couples occurred after movie night. Since the show benefits from the conflict, it seems that this was intentional. The Aftersun panel saw more sexist behaviour on display. Comedian Darren Harriott came under fire from viewers for his distasteful comments about Ekin-Su. The show’s presenter, Laura Whitmore, was also criticised for encouraging the shaming of Ekin-Su. There’s clearly a double standard going on, since Davide strayed from Ekin-Su without receiving the same sexist comments.
Where does the misogyny come from?
Throughout history, women were always the ones accused of being unfaithful. It was one of the ways in which men held power over women. The constant fear of being ‘cuckolded’ by a woman created a narrative that women are inherently untrustworthy. Love Island takes a trip back to this old form of misogyny, causing distress for the contestants. It’s also harmful to young girls watching the show at home. Arguably, the show is encouraging men to keep tabs on their partners and call them liars when they try to defend themselves. It’s clear to see why Love Island keeps receiving an onslaught of complaints.
Considering the complaints, some people are asking if Love Island should still be running. If you’re wondering what we think, check out our article addressing if Love Island should be banned.