Love Island has had its fair share of controversies over the years, from misogyny to the mistreatment of contestants. Caroline Flack, Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis are just a few examples of the dark reality of Love Island. However, it seems the producers have done nothing to improve the state of the reality show. Since airing in June, the show has received an astounding 3,600 Ofcom complaints, leading concerned viewers to ask: should Love Island be banned?
Sexism in the Villa
In previous years, charities like Women’s Aid and Refuge have complained to ITV about the misogynistic behaviours of some of the male contestants. This year, Women’s Aid has stepped in again to address episodes of the show. After the airing of the infamous “movie night” episode on July 17th, Ofcom received 2,481 complaints. Luca Bish blamed his partner Gemma Owen for being flirted with by fellow contestant Billy Brown. The show received backlash because of the victim-blaming mentality that it promoted. In particular, Refuge has pointed out the consistent gaslighting, manipulation and controlling behaviours by the male islanders.
Mistreatment of the Islanders
Famously, ITV cancelled the Jeremy Kyle Show in May 2019 following the death of a guest. This led to a debate online about whether we should cancel Love Island following the deaths of three contestants. The result wrecked the lives of their families, and supposedly the producers of Love Island were partly to blame. Due to mass attention, Sophie Gradon was the victim of cyberbullying online, which was a massive detriment to her mental health. However, the producers of the show reportedly did nothing to help. This contributed to her tragic death in 2018, amongst others. Ofcom has reported that there have been many complaints about the mental health of contestants this year as well.
Bullying Between Contestants
Viewers online have complained about the treatment of Ekin Su in particular, from contestants Jaques and Luca. Many tweets have mentioned the casual insults flung at Ekin Su with Jaques calling her a “slut” and a “headache”. In a similar vein, watchers at home have accused host Laura Whitmore of slut-shaming Ekin Su as well. They have also criticised Jaques for calling Paige Thorne “pathetic” after having the highest heart rate in the heart racer challenge because of his ex, Gemma Owen.
Uncomfortable Age Gaps
One of the most uncomfortable couples to watch was Gemma Owens, aged 19, and Davide Sanclimente, aged 27. The 11-year-age gap between the pair was a topic of discourse among fans of the show, with some calling for an age limit to be implemented. What’s more, viewers were quick to realise that Jaques O’Neill was 20 years old when he was dating his ex, Gemma Owen, who would have been 16. Although the age of consent in Britain is 16 years old, fans questioned the moral ambiguity of the age difference between the pair.
Should Love Island be Banned?
It’s easy to say that ITV should cancel Love Island. Clearly, there are issues with the mental health of contestants and the toxic messages that the show promotes. This could have catastrophic influences on fans because of how the producers promote misogyny and abusive behaviours. Although fans and charities have criticised the show, Love Island has done nothing to improve the state of affairs. This is problematic because of the way people will copy these behaviours in their own lives, or think that it’s normal to be treated in a particular way.
However, the producers could take some small steps to improve the quality of the show. They could add an age limit of 21+years old, as some have suggested. With the threat of cyberbullying for the contestants, they should put in more work to ensure the mental health of the islanders is not at risk. Love Island is a show that you should be able to tune in to so you can forget about all your problems. It doesn’t need to be cancelled, but we should all consider the impacts of the show as we watch. So, should Love Island be banned? We’ll let you decide.
If you’re looking for more Love Island content, have a look at our list of where all the contestants this year went to University.