On Monday 3rd June, Love Island, the ITV2 show that took the nation by storm returned to our screens. Who would have predicted in June 2015 when the programme was first screened, that by series 5 the nation would be hooked on a reality dating show? The show has never been so popular, with 3.7 million viewers tuning in to watch the first episode. In fact, last year the show had more applicants than Oxford and Cambridge put together.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with the show, the programme features a bunch of beautiful young singles who are put together in a villa in Spain on the quest to ‘find love’. New contestants are regularly sent in whilst contestants deemed too boring are regularly sent home by viewers – or, more interestingly, ‘dumped’ by the islanders themselves. If a summer spent in a bikini in a villa surrounded by other attractive men and women isn’t enough to lure contestants in, the winning couple are given £50k.
So, a harmless, if slightly mindless, TV show? Not quite. In an increasingly liberal society, and in the run up to London pride (beginning this month and culminating in the Trafalgar Square parade on July 6th 2019), there is a glaring lack of LGBTQ+ representation on the show. Should it be that a show mainly aimed at young people (57% of 16-34 year old TV viewers were watching the programme’s launch on the 3rd June) promotes such blatant heteronormativity? Is this truly helpful in 2019?!
Imagine if this wasn’t the case. Imagine if bisexual contestants were allowed to enter? Not only would this do wonders for representation and decreasing bi-erasure, but imagine the drama! Anton is coupled up with Lucie but in a shock dumping Lucie picks Molly-Mae?! It would be delicious. Ratings would go through the roof. Imagine a Love Island ONLY for LGBTQ+ contestants! Love Island for gay men! Love Island for lesbians! Oh the equality!
There would of course be protests – the usual homophobic complaints to ofcom would be sadly only predictable – but surely that’s even more the reason to promote visibility? The more exposure LGBTQI+ identifying people are given, the more steps we take towards equality and acceptance? Perhaps even more importantly, a recent BBC poll found that only two-thirds of young Brits claimed to be exclusively heterosexual. Wouldn’t it be great if the makeup of the show reflected the makeup of the viewers?
Sadly, it seems unlikely to us that this will be implemented. But imagine, just imagine what could be achieved if it was.