w ^ith summer officially upon us, millions of people around the country are eagerly anticipating filling the long sunny evenings with one thing – hours sat in front of the television watching 爱岛.
A new series of the TV show starts on Monday, and with episodes airing six times a week for two months, dedicated fans can expect to rack up at least 48 hours of viewing time before the summer is out (56 hours if they also watch Sunday’s After Sun recap show).
The show is known for splitting opinion, but just days after the first 11 cast members were announced, the now annual debates around the show’s body diversity and inclusivity are already rife on social media, and fans are feverishly anticipating what twists producers could have in store.
Experts say the drip-feeding of content every day, along with the sense of community that builds around the series each year, is the key to the show’s success in keeping millions of viewers glued to their screens each year.
“Love Island is completely immersive. You can’t just dip your toe into it, the whole premise of it is that you are absorbed into it,” said social psychologist Dr Sandra Wheatley.
“You live the moments that the participants are living almost in real time. It’s the perfect escapism and a bit of escapism does nobody any harm, I think.”
She said Love Island can come as a welcome distraction for some, particularly young people during exam season. “I think a lot of people tend to watch Love Island in couples and in groups. So it is a very interactive thing, not just interacting with the show by voting, but also at the time of watching, and people enjoy that,” said Wheatley, who previously worked as a psychologist on Big Brother – a precursor to the “sociable” TV Love Island provides.
Psychotherapist and author of The Phone Addiction Workbook, Hilda Burke, said part of Love Island’s popularity stems from the fact it creates “watercooler discussion points” among friends, particularly women.
“I think there is a collective bonding that goes on with the show. It’s something neutral to talk about, everyone has an opinion on these things,“ 她说. “I think we’re drawn to that, something that doesn’t reveal too much of ourselves, but we can pontificate on.”
But she said there was a darker side to people’s desire to “voyeuristically” follow the show so closely.
“I think people like to avoid their own lives, it’s easier to live through other people’s experiences. I think that’s quite human and it’s why we gossip, it’s why we get invested in who our friends are dating,“ 她说. “But it’s safer than actually looking at what’s going on in our own lives, and thinking about whether you’re happy in your relationship, or your dating life.
“I think the show does raise some questions about us as a society, and why we get so invested in this mating zoo.”
There has been increasing scrutiny on the welfare and support offered to show participants in recent years, particularly after the suicides of former cast members Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon.
This year it has been announced cast members for the first time will receive training on inclusive language around disability, sexuality, race and ethnicity, behaviours and microaggressions.
The show’s full duty of care process for participants includes pre-filming psychological and medical assessments, detailed explanations of the implications, both positive and negative, of taking part in the show, and advice on how to cope with being filmed 24/7 and social media trolling.
The aftercare package includes bespoke training on finances, social media and adjusting to life back at home, as well as a minimum of eight therapy sessions.
“This isn’t the first series, so people should know what to expect with it. Despite that, they will still need to have the reality of the reality show explained to find out whether this is really something that they can participate in while retaining their sense of self,” said Wheatley.
“Most of us don’t have that level of insight into what we will find difficult. How can you predict that? You can only look back at your own experiences and take those with you, and hope that they will act as armbands.”
Last year’s Islanders appear to have enjoyed success after the series, with a number of the show’s main couples still in relationships. Millie Court, who won the show alongside Liam Reardon, has released her own clothes collection with Asos, while Liberty Poole appeared on Dancing on Ice.