Reality Show Aftercare – Where It’s Going Wrong

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If there was a list of catalysts for dividing opinion, then Love Island would strongly hold a top seat, probably next to Brexit.

Just as you settle that it is synonymous for trash, some one comments on it from a feminist lens, or a BAME lens. However, despite the plethora of opinions people may have, it undoubtedly racks up the views. And, as it entices viewers, it entices a lot, (and, I can’t stress this enough) of money off the backs of young, powerless people.

In my opinion, Love Island captures the essence of capitalism: relentless, careless and taking no hostages. Mike Thalassitis (formerly known as ‘Muggy Mike’) is just the most recent victim of Love Island, he is not the first, and probably wont be the last. Thalassitis’s suicide is a hugely sad departure from the pristine portrayal of life in the villa, starkly more raw than the ‘reality’ show depicts.

Bikini bodies, teeth whitening and sex all seem wonderful until the superficial smile is torn away, the cameras are off and the mask of capitalism is revealed to embody the opposite. When you are no longer able to be monetised but need a bit of after care, no one is there to help as a new ‘you’ is already being moulded for the next series.

However, Love Island is not alone, it most certainly has its accomplices; Instagram for one. Suddenly, the life in the villa must be transferred into the everyday. These young people are thrown into a spiraling vacuum of followers, likes and tabloids. They plaster a smile on because they have too, but, there is simply not enough support for when their puppet strings are cut.

The problem with reality TV shows is they monetise off emotion, humanity and ‘naturalness’; however the system which upholds them is void of any humanity. Capitalism is emotionless, it endeavours to gorge money from every inch of society, from sex to heart break, however it has no time for the basic needs we require.

Love Island is a process which, in a way, reduces the contestants to a primitive state. They are expected to find a partner, love and have sex. However, whilst one could argue this has a liberating potential, is it just t-shirt slogan level? Whilst I imagine being thrust into a nice villa and a free holiday seems great, we must understand the consequences it will have. Money, yes. Fame, probably. Depression, also probably.

Love Island themselves say it is ‘life changing’, however do not quite admit to it being ‘life-ending’. Slight difference there, I think. Death seems to be an upsetting motif of the show since Mark Thalassitis’s passing sadly follows Sophie Gradon’s death just 9 months before. There needs to be a change. Young people should not be dying. Aftercare for Love Island contestants needs to be a stable pillar in the structure of the process.