June has already been a big month for British reality dating shows; BBC’s ‘I Kissed a Boy’ wrapped on Monday night, with an announcement that ‘I Kissed a Girl’ was being commissioned following its success. ITV announced a new series called ‘My Mum, Your Dad’ a dating show for single parents, and of-course, the nation’s favourite returned, with Love Island debuting it’s new offering of sexy singles.
However, this year, Love Island began with a loss of 1 million viewers, with the first episode drawing in 1.3 million viewers, compared to 2.4 million in its previous summer season. This is the lowest viewing figures the series has seen since its third season in 2017, which begs the question; why are the British public no longer as enamoured with the series as they once were?
“In order for Love Island to reach its previous heights, the audience needs to be able to invest in the cast from the outset, and the producers need to help the show seem more of a reality series, than a tedious gameshow.”
Love Island has often received criticism for its cookie cutter contestants and lack of diversity. Every series sees the same type of thin and able-bodied people entering the villa, and the show has also been often criticised for its lacking in ethnic diversity and LGBTQ+ representation. However, whilst earlier seasons of the show suffered from the same affliction, the people at least seemed more genuine, and ‘normal’, allowing the public to relate to them and root for their relationships as they developed. In more recent seasons, with the bigger use of contestants with pre-existing notoriety (Molly Mae, Dani Dyer, Will Young), and contestants often coming out to huge brand partnerships, the show increasingly seems to be used as a stepping stone for contestants to land a brand deal and Instagram followers, rather than a means of finding a ‘genuine’ connection. Without real people to get behind, there is little motivation to watch two months of would-be influencers walk around in the sunshine.
‘I Kissed a Boy’ was a huge success for BBC, hence its commissioning of an all-female season. The show has been noted as a rival to Love Island because of its sunny setting, coupling up and bombshells entering to cause drama. However, as well as the well-received and obviously more diverse aspect of the show, the format of the season is also different, as there is no cash prize at the end of it, and no winning couple. This arguably makes the couples seem more genuine, as there is no reason to fake a relationship for the sake of winning a game, a critique that has been made of Love Island contestants in the past. Also, as the show is new, there is also no suggestion that these men are in it for big brand deals, and the show provides a more feel-good vibe, as the emphasis is on the contestants being out, proud, and ready for love.
‘I Kissed a Boy’ also has a much shorter run, only clocking nine episodes, compared to Love Island’s forty-nine. The episodes aired on Sunday and Monday nights, creating more anticipation for what would happen week on week. It also requires less commitment than Love Island, which airs every evening for eight weeks straight. This highlights the fact that Love Island has arguably become over-saturated in recent years, especially since it began airing winter and summer seasons of the show. Whilst its first few seasons signified the beginning of summer, and would have a year of build-up prior, this year saw only a two-month break between the winter season ending, and the summer season beginning, which may be part of the reason for this current season’s lack of interest.
In order for Love Island to reach its previous heights, the audience needs to be able to invest in the cast from the outset, and the producers need to help the show seem more of a reality series, than an mega-influencer casting call. This summer has highlighted that love can be found in many ways and from many places – from behind the wall of Love is Blind, to the Courtyard of The Masseria – so come on ITV, come on Love Island – I want to know what love is!