Love Island producers have come under fire this weekend, with Ofcom receiving 650 complaints about the reality TV show, after contestant Dani Dyer ended up in tears following being shown out-of-context footage of her boyfriend, Jack Fincham reacting to his ex, Ellie Jones, arriving on the show. While Jack has so far remained loyal to Dani, producers only showed her a small clip of Ellie's arrival and Jack's shocked reaction. Creating a context that, we presume, was intended to cause upset (because apparently tears = good TV, although we're not so sure about that one).
Fans took to twitter to express their disapproval after a series of mental health concerns have been raised about the show, following the death of former contestant Sophie Gradon and the gaslighting storyline around Adam that occurred earlier this series.
As Dani broke down crying, viewers shared their opinions on social media, claiming that the show was intentionally preying on Dani’s insecurities to cause her upset by choosing not to show her that he has actually been sleeping alone and has consistently professed his love for her while staying the second villa.
Not only that, but producers also chose not to show Georgia Steele that her partner, Josh Denzel, has pursued another woman while she’s stayed loyal. The intent behind what producers chose to reveal to the women has been questioned, with Ofcom receiving 650 complaints specifically relating to Dani being shown the video of Jack. The broadcasting watchdog told the Huffington Post:
‘At this stage there have been 650 complaints from last night’s Love Island specifically relating to Dani being shown the video of Jack, these will be assessed against the broadcasting code before a decision is made whether or not to investigate.’
The investigation into Love Island’s production tactics comes after the death of series two contestant Sophie Gradon who described herself as having ‘sold her soul to reality TV’ and spoke out against the show’s lack of psychological care last year. ‘Honestly horrendous,’ she wrote on Twitter, ‘They will lie, trick you and segregate you should you speak out against them BUT they provide a therapist for 6 months after so it’s OK.’
Viewers were quick to draw comparisons between the upset producers were intentionally causing Dani and the manipulative tactics Sophie exposed in her tweet.
This is the second time producers have used a second villa in the series, and subsequently showed the girls small hints at what’s been happening there. However, this year people feel that the line between creating dramatic storylines and manipulating contestants has seemingly been crossed, as one viewer pointed on online:
Part of the problem is that there seems to be an obsession on the show with being 'tested,' as if you're relationship isn't 'real' unless you've stayed in it against all odds. Dani and Jack are yet to be tested by the show, until now. But in reality, pushing the notion that you need to have doubted your relationship, or experienced emotional turmoil because of it, for it to be 'strong' can have dangerous implications and only teaches people to maintain unhealthy relationships.
Even if we're giving the producers the benefit of the doubt and assuming that they're not just outrightly manipulating contestants for a plot twist, attempting to give Jack and Dani a hurdle to overcome to make their relationship appear stronger is an unhealthy agenda to push.
And with Women’s Aid already issuing a statement about emotional abuse by contestants on the show, this tactic by producers is at best tasteless, and leads us to question what influence that ‘on-site psychologist’ actually has, considering this potentially amounts to unethical social experimentation. Incidentally, this is something psychologist David Wilson resigned over on the first series of the similarly distressing reality show, Big Brother.
In an expose on the series, David recounted leaving the TV show because his expert opinions were repeatedly ignored. He wrote in The Guardian, 'my resignation as a consultant from last year's series, when Big Brother became "evil", was prompted by the refusal of its creators, Endemol, to listen to any advice I gave them'.
In fact, he even insisted on the creation of an Ofcom ethics committee to regulate reality TV. 'If we can't rely on the makers, counsellors or psychologists, or even the good taste of the public, to restrain the excesses of the reality genre, then we have to find another way, ' he continued, 'and for me that means that Ofcom should demand that each reality show should work hand in glove with an ethics committee to vet what happens, and to insist on changes if contestants are in danger or distress.'
His suggestion was ignored and 13 years later, we're still having this conversation about the toxic reality of reality TV. More and more people are being damaged by these unethical tactics, and aimlessly at that, since Love Island already has enough drama without the need to purposefully spoil one of the purest relationships on the show.
While It remains to be seen whether Love Island will be investigated by Ofcom, with so many complaints by viewers, and such a huge online backlash, it will be interesting to see how show-makers respond in upcoming episodes. But one thing's for sure - we need to challenge the view that tears and emotional turmoil = great TV.
Click through to see the Love Island contestants then and now...
Jack Fincham - then and now
Mr Colgate looks completely different in this old photo of him in the boxing ring. The self-proclaimed pen salesman has definitely found himself (and a self-tan mitt) since then and is now giving use all the feels with almost-girlfriend Dani Dyer.