Why Love Island is the worst programme on TV

Couples. Having sex. On TV. Nicely done, Great British Public.

Why Love Island is the worst programme on TV

So I get that not every person is geared up for high-pressure academia or committed relationships. But this year, more people applied to Love Island than they did to Oxbridge. You know, internationally renowned education versus the pornographic discriminatory show. Yeah, that one. 

Love Island is ITV’s reality dating show, pairing up singles during a five-week retreat on Fiji. Presented by Caroline Flack, couples date, have sex, break up. And somehow try and find true love along the way. A winner is determined after several rounds of knock-outs which are determined by who gets dumped. 

The show feeds the toxic culture of self-obsession. Contestants judge one another on physical appearances and they are all, of course, selected to be hot and sexy. The girls: curvaceous, bleached hair, and more fake tan than brain cells. The boys: abs, tattoos, and fewer morals than swimming trunks. Date after date esculates to televised sex, after the couples having known each other only a couple of weeks… at most. 

ITV are advocating physical appearances over meaning in relationships. They’re making it acceptable to have sex within days of knowing someone, and also televise it. Just showing couples having fun, without even the slightest mention of the risks and responsibilities – did no one else see the recent BBC article on staggering STD statistics?

Right now in our society, the spiralling pattern of teenage mental health is largely down to the impact of social media on the mindset of young people - Love Island’s target audience. Even the show’s contestants might be able to dot-to-dot cause and effect. The men and women shown on Love Island are valued for their bodies. When you watch this, you’re saying it’s okay for women to be objectified and judged for their bodies. Empowerment, they said. It’ll work, they said. Similarly for men: suicide is the biggest killer of young men in this country. If we are trivialising the body image pressure that men undergo, we’re saying it’s okay for these suicide rates to continue.

If you still think Love Island promotes liberal bodily freedom by advocating sex for the sake of shocking audiences, then listen to the reaction from ITV producers to the rumours of LGBTQ+ contestants. They have “no plans” for same-sex participants, saying “they don’t think gay contestants will work”. Huh. 

The last facet to explore is the focus Love Island puts on partners. Whether that’s sexual partners or the life partners that the contestants claim they’re looking to find, I think this is problematic. Again a liberal culture might advocate individualism, and the idea we’re self-sufficient without a man/woman by our sides for support. Love Island goes against this and promotes the desperate need of these contestants to find either a sexual partner or someone to date. 

So think about it when you next catch up on the Love Island gossip. You’ll be part of a culture that makes it okay to put physical attraction on a pedestal. You’ll be part of a culture of sex-selling. You’ll be part of a culture which encourages: porn, the ideals of a society 100-years past, and the shadowy underworld of embedded media sexism. 

Header Image Credit: ITV


Sienna James

Sienna James Voice Team

Formerly Assistant Editor, Sienna now studies History of Art at the University of Cambridge and loves to write about the intersection of politics, history and visual art. Sienna is author of the Creative Education and Instaviews series.

Recent posts by this author

View more posts by Sienna James


  • Luke Taylor

    On 15 June 2018, 10:00 Luke Taylor Contributor commented:

    "tHeY dOnT ThInK gAy CoNtEsTaNtS wIlL wOrK"

    Quite clearly the entire programme isn't working!!

  • Bhavesh Jadva

    On 20 June 2018, 20:31 Bhavesh Jadva Voice Team commented:

    Yeah it's massively problematic and really irks me. While the body and identity politics are worth heeding - specifically that ITV have defended their position by saying that physical appearance is NOT a criterion on which contestants, which is incredibly difficult to believe - my issue with it is more overarching and something that Iain Stirling, the voice presenter, has addressed somewhat when he said Love Island is seen to 'dumb down' the nation. As opposed to dumbing down, I think it serves as an overwhelming indictment of the superficiality of modernity. It takes love and sex and places it on an economistic platform without regard for how the men and women - who are wildly segregated, be it by choice or not - take the experience differently. It is, however, heartening (if that's the right word) to see the viewing public rally against the more problematic (at the very least) behaviour. Prime of which is throwing camaraderie out of the window for self-serving sex and ill excuses for emotional infatuation. I have watched this season to fathom out the appeal and I've moved away from my previous allegation that it's as close as you can get to porn on primetime television and towards the view that its issues are, ironically, more complex. There's also the argument that bad television has value, something you can switch your mind off to watch, but I think the spectatorial appeal around Love Island is much more sordid than that.

Post A Comment

You must be signed in to post a comment. Click here to sign in now

You might also like

A musician’s guide to networking

A musician’s guide to networking

by Candelaria Gómez

Read now