Love Island contestants are having sex in the villa and producers have been criticised for deciding not to air those scenes. Amanda Cassidy on our pornification of reality TV.
"It is Love Island, not Porn Island," wrote one Twitter user. "Show it all... otherwise it isn't reality," writes another. Love Island has become an extraordinary cultural phenomenon in recent years. We've tuned in to watch contestants in this warped game show open themselves up to psychologically challenging scenarios where they are rejected, rewarded for their looks and given difficult tasks to maximise dramatic reactions. We've lapped it up.
Fundamentally it is entertainment, but the lines have been blurred when the 'characters' are actual, real people with feelings and reputations and lives.
It is the reputation part that has caused a stir this week. It has been reported that the 'cast' have been having sex in the villa but TV bosses have decided not to broadcast it for fear of 'ruining their lives'.
Related: We are all a little of Amy Hart
This marks a departure from previous years where under-the-duvet moment has been zoomed in, encouraged and widely discussed. According to reports, a few of the couples in the villa are getting intimate but it hasn't been shown because of concerns over the fallout on the contestant's mental health.
The aftercare given to such reality TV contestants has come under increased scrutiny after the deaths of former Love Island cast members, Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis.
This week also saw the departure of Amy Hart - one of the Islanders who admitted she had her heart broken by Curtis Pritchard, who revealed he couldn't promise his head wouldn't be turned by more contestants arriving into the villa. Speculation has mounted that she was encouraged to leave by TV producers because of fans concern over how badly she took the news and how emotional she was over the breakup.
It begs the question about how manipulated contestants are in reality TV and why we are so indignant over 'plot lines' and 'story lines'.
Former Love Island star Zara Holland admitted she wouldn't have sex on screen again after she was stripped of her Miss Great Britain crown. If I had my time on the show again I would definitely do things differently, I wouldn’t have sex for a start. So my advice to this year’s islanders is to think before you do it. It could haunt you for the rest of your career.'
Producers have a responsibility to protect the more vulnerable stars of shows like this - especially as our obsession with reality TV grows. But more importantly, why do we want so badly to see these stars getting down and dirty when the lights go out? Why do we feel cheated if we don't?
From gaslighting to female friendships, Love Island is an exercise in sociology, psychology and humanity. But some other behind the scenes secrets have also been revealed by former contestants. 2016 contestant, Kady McDermott told Cosmopolitan last year that the Islanders get hot meals delivered every night and have chats with the producers who come in to change their mic batteries.
"That’s why dinner is never filmed or you don’t see anyone eating hot food. The food tasted amazing. They used to give us a dessert after every lunch and every dinner, and the cake was unreal, and we could request food if we wanted."
She also revealed that they don't get to drink much alcohol over the course of filming. "During the first four or five days when we didn’t know each other we had alcohol to break the ice, but then after that it was two glasses of wine a night. And we were sure it was watered down as well! I don’t get that at all."
New sex rules also mean contestants have to use protection if they do choose to get intimate.
Perhaps reality TV is finally taking a little more responsibility for charting peoples lives over the course of six or eight weeks. Perhaps we are not demanding as much reality be revealed.
It is what it is...
Image via ITV
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