After a few weeks of my friends and I complaining about how boring this years’ Love Island has been so far, the reality TV angels seemed to have finally answered our prayers by delivering some spicy drama to our screens the past few nights. Not to delve too much into spoilers, but after the elimination of one of the original Islanders and the total character destruction of my (once-was) absolute favourite, I must have clasped my hand to my mouth in shock every five minutes of watching this week’s episodes.
This year, Love Island has really taken social media by storm. The launch of this series broke ITV2’s viewing record, with 2.95 million viewers tuning in to witness the start of a summer of romance and heart break. Similarly, my Twitter feed has essentially been transformed into a massive Love Island forum. Each episode sets at least one of the Islanders trending on Twitter, and each night a variety of people take to the website to discuss the episode’s shenanigans, from Labour MP Jess Phillips to Paul Chuckle from the Chucklebrothers (I know, it surprised me as well).
But inevitably, with great popularity comes great criticism. Apparently, some people just cannot handle other people enjoying things. You get one side of the internet engaging with the drama and analysing every Islander’s movement, and then you get the other half which seems to do nothing but degrade people for doing so. My Facebook feed during the first week of Love Island was the perfect example of this dichotomy; half of my online friends seemed to do nothing but discuss Hayley’s idiocy and Adam’s stirring, whilst the other half did nothing but moan about those discussions.
One of my favourite examples of the latter was one individual, whom I shall not name, who took it upon themselves to state how they “couldn’t believe people watched Love Island”, then later declared that they were graciously “going to give Love Island a chance”, before concluding that Love Island had made them feel more intelligent than ever, and that they still couldn’t believe it was so popular.
Can we observe that this person had pre-emptively degraded people for enjoying Love Island before actually watching the show and deciding if they enjoyed it themselves? They saw a band-wagon and decided to publically declare they were against it by degrading those who weren’t, before even giving the show a chance. Yes, it’s good that they eventually came round and sat through an episode and came to an informed conclusion. But the initial comment made infuriated me, and the fact that they felt entitled and important enough to declare publically that they were going to give it a “chance” only infuriated me further.
To put it simply, people degrade others for loving reality TV to gain an air of superiority. It’s like the whole mainstream-hating-hipster fad all over again. Don’t get me wrong- it is absolutely fine if you’ve sat through an episode and decided “hey, this isn’t for me”. What grinds my gears is when people publically degrade viewers for enjoying it, because honestly, I can’t understand why they’d bother other than to try and seem “better” than those who do. I know Love Island isn’t the most intellectually stimulating programme on television, but if that’s how we judge television, why don’t we condemn people for loving Stranger Things or other dramas which aren’t educational, but are purely produced to entertain? Because that’s all Love Island is- entertainment. And believe me, it is very entertaining.
I also wonder what these social media critics are suggesting about the fans they degrade. Do they honestly believe we’re idiots for missing some bigger picture which only the select few chosen ones can see, that the whole show is ridiculous and superficial? Of course we know this! That’s probably why lots of us watch it so avidly! It’s an absolutely bizarre concept; a dozen men and women choosing to enter 24 hour surveillance, broadcasting to the nation their romantic feelings and being forced into scenarios which leave them susceptible to heart break. From a psychological perspective, it’s frankly fascinating.
But even if viewers aren’t thinking deeply about the nature of the show and watch it simply cause they like it- so what? Does it personally matter to anyone else but the viewer in question? Not to get too deeply into socio-economics or the UK’s education system, but unfortunately not everyone turns to reading Nietzsche or watching the History channel to pass the time. Reality TV is made to give the public they want- an observation of drama completely detached from their own personal lives. And we love it, and that is absolutely fine. It really isn’t that deep.
At the end of the day, I firmly believe that life is all about pursuing what makes you happy, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone. And if engaging in some reality TV like Love Island or Geordie Shore is what makes you happy, then who cares what other people have to say. And if you’re one of those people who degrade people for doing so, take a step back and ask yourself why it’s such a problem to you that people are enjoying Love Island. And on that note, I’m going to make myself a cup of tea and catch up on last night’s episode.