The reality show struck gold by appealing to viewers’ worst instincts. Now it
wants to protect contestants’ wellbeing. Can it do both?
We are a month deep into the new season of hit reality show Love Island and
things are being done differently this year. Although, whether or not the
changes implemented have made any difference, is another story.
Following two tragic contestant suicides since the show started in 2015, Love
Island bosses have been working to enhance the support services available to
contestants on such a high-profile show.
Islanders entering the villa now undergo rigorous screening processes to
determine whether they are emotionally and mentally resilient enough to
participate in the show.
Infographics aired on-screen remind and urge viewers to “think before they
post” about the stars on social media in an effort to stop trolling.
A welfare team is present on set while filming and candidates are also given
thorough psychological counselling on exiting the villa, in addition to social
media and financial management training.
While there have been no further suicides, the trolling has shown no sign of
stopping. If anything, worsening, with keyboard warriors becoming more
ruthless as online trolling is more normalised.
Normally while the islanders are in the villa, family members or friends run
their social media however this year, producers have made the decision to
scrap this, meaning there are no current posts for viewers to interactive with.
While this has stopped the constant live flow of comments, viewers have
simply resorted to commenting on contestants existing posts with their
With Love Island now carrying such a tragic history, any mistake risks mass-
condemnation from concerned viewers. The producers are aware of this and have been heavily briefing the press about their safety measures in hope of
avoiding the inevitable social media backlash.
Their efforts ignore one fundamental truth. You can’t make reality TV both
ethical and entertaining.
We watch Love Island because it appeals to our desire to mock people, cringe
at their dating mishaps, gawk at their overfilled lips and squirm in disgust when they declare their eternal love for each other.
No matter what safeguards you put in place or how fair you are to people in
the edit, there is very little that can truly prepare a previously unknown 22-
year-old for the experience of leaving the villa as a national celebrity.