This common obsession is “Love Island.” The series, originally known as “Celebrity Love Island” when it aired in the mid-2000s, was rebooted a few years ago and has since captured the hearts of fans in Britain and globally. edition on CBS starting July 9, is more extreme and interactive than your average reality TV show.
On the surface, it’s just another reality dating show, bringing male and female contestants known as “Islanders” into a tropical villa to couple up, with surprise twists and new Islanders joining along the way. The premise is supposedly about finding love, but much of the show is based on humiliating the Islanders for our entertainment.
“I think I can say honestly that I didn’t even recognize myself and I had to change my life and my lifestyle to find myself again and make myself in a much more happy place, which I am now.
It can have a really ill effect on your mental health.” Is she glad she went on the show? “I would say it was a really good experience for me, but I think it had quite a negative impact on me as a person.” On the surface, there are a lot of reasons the show has been successful.
Still, Langcaster-James says there’s some merit to the show, especially since it can reveal what positive and negative relationships look like.
(Current Islander Joe Garratt has come into the spotlight for being overly controlling and emotionally manipulative of fellow Islander Lucie Donlan.) That lens into the lives of others can be helpful for viewers, says Langcaster-James, who adds, “People who go on a show like ‘Love Island’ often talk about their personal lives and their own insecurities and their own difficulties — and that can also be hugely validating to young people.” The mental health effects don’t end after the cameras stop rolling.
Viewers at home feel invested in what unfolds on-screen because they get to vote on who comes and goes and which couple gets a date, using the official app. The current season of “Love Island” is averaging 4.2 million TV viewers in Britain, according to ITV, the network airing the show, with an additional 1.4 million viewers watching on non-TV devices, up 700,000 viewers from previous years.
The stakes feel higher because viewers know the footage hasn’t been sitting around in a studio’s editing bay for months. “Reality shows have become very regimented, and therefore the experience of certain shows has become very predictable,” says David Eilenberg, executive producer of the CBS series and chief creative officer of ITV America.
“ ‘Love Island’ really blows that apart.” The story is dictated by what actually happens, rather than a specific format. “You really don’t know what’s going to happen in any given episode, or even in any given act.” Erin Riley, who watches in the United States via Hulu, says she’s not usually a fan of reality TV, but she’s hooked on “Love Island.” “I feel like I’m going through the contestants’ journey along with them — seeing challenges, re-couplings and breakups almost in real time instead of three months later after producers have chopped up the footage to edit the story lines.
Honey Langcaster-James, who acted as the resident psychologist for the second season of “Love Island” and is currently the director of services for the consulting firm On Set Welfare, says reality TV does not pay enough attention to cast members’ mental health.
“We need to think about the psychological welfare of propelling people into the limelight,” she noted.
In May, creative director Richard Cowles told the press that diversity is “not at the front” of the studio’s mind when casting.