We’re only a week away from a brand new series of Love Island, but I find myself struggling to muster the same level of excitement for series five as I have done in previous years.
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And having looked at the muted – and often outright negative – response to ITV2’s #DayDotIsComing campaign on social media, I know I’m not the only one who’s failing to get quite the same buzz.
In fact, lots of Love Island fans have become more than a little cynical about the show.
Love Island series four demonstrated that the villa is less and less a place for finding love and more and more a platform for instant fame. The Islanders may have quadrupled their Instagram followers and landed themselves a clothing range with In the Style, but none of them are still in their couples. I’m just not sure I’m willing to invest eight weeks or more of my life watching people who will foster a showmance that I know won’t last longer than the summer.
Love Island series four showed signs it was starting to lose its balance in other ways, too. Series two and three gave us the drama we wanted, presented through the slick editing and story-telling we love.
But in series four, the pressure to maintain the same level of intrigue meant some scenes appeared overly staged and contrived; a case in point being the never-ending Georgia/Sam kiss-gate, during which it was revealed that the controversial moment had been filmed more than once and with different outcomes.
The worry for series five is that producers will go even further in overly meddling in events to create a narrative that isn’t there.
Of course, the fifth series is also landing in our schedules under a very dark cloud, with the tragic suicides of former contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis firmly and rightly drawing attention to the show’s ethical duty to its contestants, and its aftercare policy – to the extent that some former fans are even calling for the series to be cancelled.
Unpopular opinion: The next ITV show to cancel now Jeremy Kyle's gone, should be "Love Island"
1. It sets unrealistic body image expectations
2. It reinforces negative self esteem by suggesting only the prettiest deserve love
3. 2 contestants have committed suicide
It is toxic.
— Jack Duncan???? (@JackDunc1) May 15, 2019
— Samantha Lee (@_samanthaLee09) May 15, 2019
Those recent events are, understandably, likely to make producers all the more cautious about showing or creating situations that could potentially be harmful to Islanders once they leave the villa. It’s absolutely essential that producers do whatever is necessary to protect contestants’ welfare, but it may result in what would otherwise be some of the show’s most talked-about moments becoming watered down, or simply ending up on the cutting-room floor.
Series four also shone a light on some of the other problems with Love Island that it had been easier for us to overlook when it was a smaller beast: the homogeny of the contestants in terms of body type and race (the stark majority being white, slim and toned to within an inch of their lives), the advertisements for plastic surgery during the ad breaks. There are early signs that the show might be aiming to address at least the former, with reports that a plus-size model is in the running, but ITV may find it hard to stray too far from what has been a winning formula.
I realise that when Love Island series five finally launches on June 3rd I am likely to get sucked back into that heady, summery mix, just as millions of other people will be – but whether it will ever recapture its full former innocent magic remains to be seen.
Love Island launches Monday 3rd June on ITV2