In Defence of Love Island

I’ve just read a scathing review of ITV2’s popular ‘Love Island’ by TV critic Alison Graham. ‘Is this how far we’ve come in 100 years?’ she asks as she mourns the fact that the show had higher viewing figures than a recent documentary on the woman’s suffrage movement.

The show divides opinion and I’ve seen a few tweets that have voiced the same opinion as Graham who believes Love Island is, ‘curated witlessness’ and that an, ‘entire generation of young women’ are likely to ‘grow up with a wholly skewed idea of what it is to be a woman.’ I disagree.

Firstly, what does she expect young people to be watching? As a secondary school teacher, I realise that teenagers are actually pretty savvy when it comes to women’s rights and relationships. Of course young people aren’t watching a show about women’s suffrage – they can watch that in a History or English lesson. I know it’s controversial but it’s true – it’s not what concerns young people today.

I watched a recent documentary about Germaine Greer and for the most part, it was a bit boring. I don’t think she was particularly intelligent. She was just very outspoken and said some radical things. Why would a teenager be interested in anything like that?

Back to Love Island – Graham clearly hasn’t been watching as she mentions an incident when one of the men couldn’t see the problem with cheating on two girlfriends. The lad was ‘called out’ by others and his behaviour was not admired by either the men or women on the show.

My husband and I have been watching every night. He reckons it’s about ‘human nature at its most base level’ and I agree. Yes of course, there are the bikinis and the dodgy references to threesomes etc but if you are watching it, you end up seeing through this.

Giles Coren angrily tweeted about the show saying that it is, ‘some evil, lowbrow, intellectually apocalyptic megasexist bullshit.’ He continued, ‘How can people be watching this vomitous filth in bikinis and high heels?’ A bit like Graham, who believes it’s ‘too late for the Love Island women.’ Again, I disagree. Yes it can be silly and often a bit ‘sexualised’ but the rest of it is harmless and actually very fascinating. They do respect themselves. The women don’t just have sex/kiss men straight away. The relationships reflect what’s going on in real life and natural justice plays out in the end.

I think it’s too simplistic to say it’s full of vacuous wannabes. I would say it’s more complex and I think to compare it to the women’s suffrage movement is naïve.

I hear pupils talking about the show at school and of course I worry that 1) they are staying up too late and 2) seeing and hearing things I wouldn’t have known at their age but these are the times we are living in. As long as they have a sound knowledge of life, including the history of women’s rights (which schools are teaching them) and life experience from their parents, then I would be happy for my older pupils to watch it.

Graham asks, ‘Is this why Emily Wilding Davison died in 1913 for the freedom of girls in bikinis?’ Well, yes it is. Her aim was to give women choice and equality and the women on Love Island have both in my opinion. I’m glad they have this choice and, in fact both men and women are ‘paraded’ in the show. Men and women are equally vilified and admired by the fans and it is narrated by a highly ‘witty’ presenter.

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