Here’s everything Love Island needs to change for 2022 if it wants to stay relevant
Priority number one: Sort out that dreadful reunion
After a tumultuous year, the world was more than ready for Love Island 2021. A summer month yearly ritual; easy to watch, nightly viewing sorted and a fun (albeit frequently problematic) frenzy for the country to be hooked on so we can all have something to talk about in work or the uni library when we’re bored. It’s a means to an end that the pandemic deprived us of – but one that when we finally got round to watching it, left us deflated. Love Island 2021 left me exasperated constantly, like a little time capsule of reality television that hadn’t evolved at all from when it was last on and seemed reluctant to change up anything in its tired formula and traditions. When Love Island 2022 comes around, we need some major changes.
Love Island appears addicted to its own stagnancy. When criticised, its producers and presenters are endlessly defensive; with no attitude that implies they welcome any feedback and are willing to adapt and change with the times. But let us pretend that isn’t the case. Imagine a world where Love Island is willing to move with the times. These are the changes they should be making in preparation for Love Island 2022 – if they have any sense.
Cast queer people
In June, Amanda Stavri now infamously told Radio Times that casting LGBTQ+ people on the show would be “logistically difficult”, and got backlash from the queer community. In August, after the 2021 season came to a close, ITV boss Kevin Lygo said “Love Island is a particular thing. It’s about boys and girls coupling up, so if you want to do it as a gay version or you want to widen it, it is discussed and we haven’t yet found a way that would make it suitable for that show.” But what both of them actually mean by their points is that it’s not that it’s too difficult or too hard to make space for queer people on Love Island, it’s that they can’t be arsed to.
Love Island is the biggest reality show in the UK, and they have whatever resources they want at their disposal. Dating shows much smaller than Love Island have easily made space for LGBTQ+ people. Love Island has literally had bi and queer women cast before, implying it’s fine but as long as it’s presented in a way that still makes these women attractive for a straight male gaze. It’s not that Love Island can’t change, it’s that it won’t. And the longer that goes on, the more unjustifiable it becomes.
Scrap Casa Amor
It’s not a twist if everybody knows it’s coming. Casa Amor was once a shock to the Islanders’ system, an unexpected midseason pivot that changed everything for the villa. This year, it felt like an Islander tourist attraction or rite of passage. Aaron left the villa and said his biggest regret was not making it to Casa. Is this what “the ultimate test” twist is meant to be?
It’s cruel and plays on emotions but with little consequence. It’s manufactured drama and not organic. Think about the iconic fights in reality TV history – anything like Kim Woodburn or Gemma Collins on Celebrity Big Brother – they were all so great because they happened naturally. At this point, Casa Amor exists to start drama, but the drama it delivers is empty and simulated. Find a new midseason twist, ITV. I beg.
Cast diversely, including diversity with Islanders’ types
Last week, 2021 Islander Sharon Gaffka told The Tab that she felt she was “the diversity card” with her casting. Sharon had little to no success with her romantic pursuits during her time in the villa. In her own words, what’s the point in casting a diverse range of girls when all the lads have the same type: blonde and petite. AKA, white. Who is it benefitting? What vibe is it setting in the villa? It’s leaving girls sat about wondering what they’re even doing there.
So many people watch Love Island, and as Sharon says in that article, a lot of her important conversations she had about race and type and fetishisation were not aired. What did we get instead? A lot of middle class white men like Hugo Hammond saying “job done” and “move mad” at various intervals. They need to do better.
A serious overhaul of whatever the hell the stupid challenges are
Like… come on guys. We don’t care. I don’t need to see a foam covered lap dance between awkward couples every two episodes for about half the runtime. It’s filler, it’s boring and it’s draining. And worse still, it’s the same challenges year after year? You’re telling me that the biggest show and production team in the country can’t come up with interesting ideas to keep it fun and always have to resort to some weird, prince-saves-princess task that reinforces gender norms? Do better!
Big Brother got torn apart in the ratings and by its detractors towards its end, but why? They managed to come up with new and inventive ideas every single year. Interesting shopping tasks, incredibly diverse casting including all kinds of queer people and disabilities from way back in the early 00s and consistently unexpected twists. Why isn’t Love Island following suit? And more importantly, why isn’t it being held to the standard the Big Brother was and isn’t facing the same level of criticism for its same stunts year on year?
An actually good reunion
Everything needed to be said about that car crash of a reunion has already been said, including the important confirmation from Laura Whitmore that she does NOT have a bob! That was her real hair guys! I’m overcome with relief that we got that burning question sorted, but what we don’t know is why people all signed off on a reunion that stilted, dull and awkward. It was one of the worst hours of telly I’ve ever sat through, and why the producers thought that was what any of us would want to see is beyond me.
Just put the Islanders in a room and let them talk amongst themselves for the reunion. That’s what we want! Organic conversation between the people we’ve just sacrificed two months of our life watching every night. It’s not rocket science! None of these changes are rocket science – they are common sense changes for reality tv, and Love Island would be wise to take them on board for when the 2022 season comes back to our screens.
Love Island 2021 is available now to stream on ITV Hub. For all the latest Love Island news and gossip and for the best memes and quizzes, like The Holy Church of Love Island on Facebook.