The Love Island producers are usually spot-on.
They know when to throw a bombshell into the villa, when is the optimum time for a Flack Attack or when a re-coupling will cause the maximum drama between the Islanders.
And yet on Sunday night’s episode, they made a rare but very uncomfortable misstep in the way they played Dani Dyer and Jack Fincham’s separation.
In a move similar to the postcard that dropped into the villa last year, the girls were sent a video showing what the boys had been up to at second venue Casa Amor. Doctor Alex was snogging Charlie (hooray!), Josh was thrashing around in bed excited about Kaz (oh dear) and Jack’s reaction to the entrance of his ex-girlfriend Ellie was shown to Dani.
“Oh my God,” he said, over and over as he revealed that he had been in contact with Ellie shortly before he flew into the villa. Understandably, the 20-second clip left Dani distraught, in floods of tears.
After she’d spent two days worrying about what was happening at Casa Amor, her worst fears were realised: the small snippet understandably sent her mind racing and she looked nothing short of devastated.
Viewers were unimpressed, and I was too. The episode’s ending left a very sour taste and it felt as if the Love Island producers had not only let down fans, but they’d let down Dani, too. They had gone out of their way to be deliberately misleading, provocative and mean-spirited – when it absolutely wasn’t needed or called for.
Dani has spoken about how hurt she’s been in the past; how she feels like she always picks the same type of men and how she was worried she’d done the same again with Jack. What the producers have done is to needlessly prey upon her insecurities.
Jack made the decision to sleep outside on the day bed alone two nights running at Casa Amor, rather than share a bed with another girl. He didn’t appear to get involved with the challenge that saw the Islanders faced with snogring each other in order to win a party. He kept talking about Dani, how much he misses her, is thinking about her and how he cannot wait to see her face.
What’s so upsetting and infuriating about this whole Casa Amor situation is that, actually, Jack has been the perfect gentleman – and Dani has no idea.
Regardless of whether they’re on a TV show or not, what these two have appears to be something very real. There seem to be genuine emotions and feelings at stake here, and the two have even made it official and gone full boyfriend and girlfriend. And that all makes what happened on Sunday night’s Love Island even more bitter to swallow.
Don’t get me wrong – I love a bit of Love Island drama; especially a bit of Casa Amor drama. But there’s been plenty going on organically to keep viewers hooked without any need to manufacture a nasty unwarranted argument between two people who are so solid.
Megan has pied off Wes after three seconds to go after Alex… and then Dean… and then Alex again, while Adam has forgotten Zara even existed barely 24 hours after saying he would never find someone else in the villa like her. That’s all before we even get to Josh and Georgia and the heartbreak she has coming her way when she finds out he has been snogging Kaz at Casa Amor.
And yet the only news about Jack’s few days away that has been fed back to Dani was that he was visibly shocked at seeing an ex in the villa. And, well, who wouldn’t be? Putting Ellie in there in the first place is a bit of a crap move, but to deliberately mislead Dani as to what has been going on is the producers going out of their way to cause trouble where there is none. Why?
Instead, what would have made a nice counterpoint to all the existing drama would have been for Dani to see the clip of Jack saying he “loved her” – an antidote to the rest of the horribleness that was delivered in that video.
We can imagine her going “does he really feel like that about me? Does he though?!” and having a huge smile on her face. It would have been sweet, heartwarming and a far more accurate depiction of his time in Casa Amor. Amongst the mugging and the grafting going on around them, this series of Love Island has been made immensely enjoyable by Jack and Dani’s heartwarming budding romance.
Yes, Love Island is a TV game show – and games are going to be played, by both the contestants and the producers. But when the overarching premise of the programme is for people to find love, it feels incredibly cynical to deliberately miscommunicate what’s going on between two people who seem to have genuinely found a connection with one another.
It’s going to take a lot to undo the damage done to Dani, and I just hope the backlash from viewers has taught producers a valuable lesson in mugging off contestants – and fans – who absolutely don’t deserve it.
Love Island airs daily at 9pm on ITV2