ITV’s popular reality show did much more than you’d think!

Reality TV as a genre is seen as a low brow form of entertainment, that many people are judged for enjoying. But 2018’s edition of Love Island went about changing that. This year’s season of the show was the most viewed, with 3.6 million people tuning in to watch Jack and Dani win, but the show did much more than keep us glued to the screen. It actually started conversations on social platforms on important issues.

Ageism

At the beginning of the series, when the original cast entered the villa, Twitter was abuzz about one contestant in particular, 29 year-old Laura Anderson. People were convinced she was lying about her age, with it becoming the butt of the joke. This sparked debate that it wasn’t a case of ageism and was actually in fact thinly veiled sexism. Observers pointed out that 2017 contestant Marcel was 31 at the time of the show, but faced no judgement or ridicule online because of it.

Diversity

Another conversation that popped up due to this year’s original line up was the issue of diversity. Not only was there not much diversity in body types, with Instagram-perfect bikini bodies on show, contestant Samira Mighty’s  inclusion in the initial line up and the only woman of colour and her subsequent reduced airtime brought the topic of diversity to the forefront. Many viewers were left questioning if women of colour are getting the representation they deserve on television.

Slut shaming

One of the most divisive contestants on this year’s show without a doubt was Essex girl Megan Barton-Hanson. While Megan faced ridicule online for her stand-offish behaviour with the other girls and her disrespect of Laura and Wes’ coupling, she was also judged for her past. Megan previously worked as a stripper as well as doing glamour modelling. She expressed her concerns while in the villa that she would face judgement when she left the villa. Her honesty about her insecurities starting conversation and had people debating why she was being slut-shamed for her past while fellow contestant Adam Collard openly admitted he had slept with over 200 girls and did not face the same backlash.

Gas-lighting

The very serious issue of emotional abuse within relationships would first broached when Adam Collard was confronted by Rosie Williams, the girl he was coupled up with at the time, over his rude and neglectful behaviour towards her. Instead of apologising for his mistakes and for making her feel lesser, he instead accused her of over exaggerating and actually being the root of the problem. This even had experts coming forward stating that Adam’s behaviour displayed signs of emotional manipulation, especially gas-lighting- a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality.

So while Love Island did offer us some light relief, be it Jack Fincham’s hilarious impressions of the other Islanders or Georgia Steele’s  hilarious overuse of the word loyal, it also did create conversation around important issues that should be discussed in society. Who would’ve thought?

By Sarah Donnelly 

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