Did Last Night’s Love Island Cross The Line From Entertaining To Cruel?

The fall-out from Casa Amor was the most savage we've seen yet. Will we look back on this show and wonder WTF we were thinking?

Love Island

by Georgia Aspinall |

‘Is it just me or is this actually really horrible to watch?’, I messaged my friends group chat during last night’s Love Island. ‘Honestly, I don’t think I can finish this episode,’ one replied back. ‘I feel physically sick,’ another added. ‘This is genuinely horrific,’ a third concluded.

Open Twitter during the episode, and you’ll see the same reactions. Hundreds of people, sucked into the car crash reality TV show, both enthralled and appalled by what was happening in front of them. ‘Casa Amor should be banned under the Geneva Convention omg the barbarity,’ one user tweeted.

The episode, which has been dubbed top three of the best Love Island episodes of all time by narrator Iain Stirling, saw a number of uncomfortable scenes - some painfully awkward others just plain painful. We saw the teeth clenching moment that Anna entered the villa with new partner Ovie after Jordan chose to stay in a couple (after trying and failing to pull any of the new girls) and the heart-warming reunion between Tommy and Molly-Mae as she returned worried that she hadn’t seen Ellie Belly (her teddy) on the bed when she entered, only for Tommy to be holding it during the recoupling.

But the kickers came when villa ‘nice guys’ Michael and Curtis stood up to give their speech. First, came Curtis’ confession. ‘Basically a young lady walked into the villa and made me realise a lot of things,’ he said, ‘Over the past four days I’ve found out more about myself and my feelings than ever before and made me realise I had been lying to myself, and most of all, Amy. And that's not a good thing.’

As the original girls reacted in shock to his words, knowing Amy had spent days professing her love for Curtis and complaining about how much she was missing him, he went on to couple up with her – only after new girl Jourdan told him she was more interested in Danny.

Watching Amy walk in - with her obvious relief and ecstatic smile - was not just uncomfortable, it was horrifying. Telling Caroline how she had spent every second thinking of him, unaware of the way he had humiliated her just seconds before, it took viewers from ‘omg this is so dramatic’ to ‘this is actually not okay’.

‘Hello @LoveIsland I’d like for Amy to be sent a counsellor because this reveal is too much,’ one user tweeted, ‘This isn’t entertainment it’s kind of horrible!?’ With near 1.5k likes, many agreed with the comment, another adding ‘I’ve been in tears watching this. Really sick.’

Then came Michael’s choice to recouple with new girl Joanna, whom he has known for two days, after spending weeks doting on Amber and seemingly ignoring all concerns he now suddenly has about their relationship. ‘The past few days have given me a lot of time to reflect,’ he said, ‘I’ve come to the realisation that I’m not being true to myself. I’ve overlooked certain situations that I wouldn’t usually do, meeting this girl has brought the Michael that I know and everyone else knows from day one back.’

While we are yet to see the fallout from his decision (that's coming tonight), we still saw the horrendous moment Amber walks in alone and see’s Michael stood with his new partner. From the look on her face alone, you can only imagine what’s going through her head - especially knowing that she has only just begun to be vulnerable with him, admitting her feelings prior to the recoupling. This didn't feel like great TV, it felt like emotional voyeurism.

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Amber arrived back in the villa alone to see Michael had recoupled...

Amber arrived back in the villa alone to see Michael had recoupled...
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CREDIT: ITV Pictures

The Casa Amor twist has always been regarded as ‘savage’, because while it's probably the moment in the show that mimics real-world dating more than anything else, it is typically filled with intervention by producers. In the first year it was introduced, Islanders received pictures that gave some clues to what the other contestants were doing. Then, in a twist in last year's show that saw Ofcom receive a record number of complaints, producers went one (horrendous) step further and used video to imply that certain contestants were being unfaithful when they actually weren’t – a move that saw Dani Dyer break down in tears.

You can see how producers would assume that the pay off, when the Islanders eventually return and couple back up, would be worth it if the contestants were true to their original pairings and we got to see true love prevail in a fairy-tale ending. Alas, even when that does happen, the emotional turmoil from days prior still leaves a sour taste in the mouth. And when one of the islanders returns only to be betrayed, that distaste for the Casa Amor twist becomes outright disgust.

That has never been clearer than in this season, because it’s the first year we’ve actually seen seemingly solid couples completely broken by Casa Amor. And, despite producers removing themselves from the equation this time by not giving the contestants clues about what was going on in the other villa, they’ve actually done more of a disservice to them not giving any hint to how their partners were feeling. As viewers, when we complained about producer intervention, we didn't necessarily want it to stop altogether, we just wanted an end to the false narratives and manipulation.

While we can hope that the girls will receive adequate counselling - something many viewers flagged on social media last night - but maybe the show needs to consider getting rid of Casa Amor altogether and find a new way to intrigue viewers. Because, when the show does cross that line season after season, you can only imagine how we’ll look back on this type of show and question why we ever found it entertaining.

In the same way that we now question the public’s former obsession with The Jeremy Kyle Show, if contestants continue to be exploited and manipulated like this, we may too come to regard Love Island in the very same way.

Scroll to see just how shocked the Love Island contestants were at Michael's decision...

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All of the Love Island 2019 contestants reactions to that plot twist...

All of the Love Island 2019 contestants reactions to that plot twist...
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CREDIT: ITV Pictures

All of the Love Island 2019 contestants reactions to that plot twist...
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All of the Love Island 2019 contestants reactions to that plot twist...
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All of the Love Island 2019 contestants reactions to that plot twist...
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All of the Love Island 2019 contestants reactions to that plot twist...
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All of the Love Island 2019 contestants reactions to that plot twist...
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All of the Love Island 2019 contestants reactions to that plot twist...
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All of the Love Island 2019 contestants reactions to that plot twist...
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All of the Love Island 2019 contestants reactions to that plot twist...
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All of the Love Island 2019 contestants reactions to that plot twist...
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CREDIT: ITV Pictures

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