Love Island: Exploitation or Opportunity?


A new show has quickly gained widespread success on a global scale. What originally started as an English series detailing 6 weeks of dating and re-coupling in a big luxurious villa, has spawned not only a massive cult following but also spin-offs such as Love Island Australia and undoubtedly more in the future. However, some are beginning to question whether participants truly enter love island to find love. Some even suggest entering a show with such a wide following increases their chances of success on social media platforms even selling merchandise the participants may have to share. However, some of the challenges are not only difficult but rather humiliating to participants leaving some viewers wondering if this is exploitation, taking advantage of people desperate for a platform to base their career on.

However, some are beginning to question whether participants truly enter love island to find love.

However, others disagree stating that this view is quite critical of a light hearted show. Additionally, love island does not break the boundaries of reality television. Shows such as Big Brother or Keeping Up with the Kardashians have hinted at or even filmed intimate moments between cast members. This demonstrates that although the potential participants may not be able to predict how they will be portrayed, they do have an inclination of what a reality show needs to show to keep interest and viewership.

Another element rather specific to Love Island is that it takes place over 6 weeks and the goal, at least on a superficial level, of each participant is to find true love. Of course in 6 weeks it’s easier to lose track of time and of course cameras. Since the show is produced week by week while the participants are still living in the villa they do not have access to the footage which is being put on national television. Some cast mates have even complained, saying they portrayed in a derogatory fashion, because all of the footage of them had negative connotations or conversations were cut down to omit important dialogue.

However, the show is entirely based on participants applying to come on the show. Meaning the villa mates have volunteered to come on and try to find love or fame. Either way each party benefits from this business deal in one way or another. If the participants find fame or love they come out of the villa having spent their summer wisely. Additionally, candidates that are chosen to take part in the show sign away their rights to the footage upon acceptance. This is unfortunately a risk they must run in the television industry that they have willingly entered into. Several love island participants can be found years later using their name followed by the term ‘love island’ to continue this association for financial gain. Others have explained their perspective in youtube channels which quickly gain a greater following due to their appearance on such a successful show.

Ultimately, Love Island and whether it is exploitation or not is quite a heated topic, as each participant leaves the villa with an entirely polarised opinion of the show, either that it furthered their career or that it was a form of slander. However, personally I believe each person leaves with an element of exposure as well as a personality attached to their name, which in our modern world of social media can be nurtured into a brand. Several participants have increased their value as a brand and ultimately if participants hope to gain a strong following to be able to support themselves, their actions on and off camera should reflect the brand they hope to nurture. Otherwise, candidates should aire on the side of caution when signing legally binding documents and if in doubt they might consider reading them in case they disagree with the implications of signing their name. Perhaps we might all learn something from this!