Image: ITV/Lifted Entertainment

‘Love Island’? More like Sham Island: ‘Love Island’ 2021 review

Season seven of Love Island was (un)eventful to say the least. The expectation of drama and shocking moments appeared to have been in the forefront of the producers’ minds, which was evident throughout the series. Whilst heated moments tend to make for entertaining moments in reality TV, the most recent series of Love Island focused too much on this, missing the mark entirely at times.

After a year of boredom and lack of a Love Island season last summer, it was only natural that viewers were beyond excited for a new season of the dating show, and longed to see its infamous villa again. With countdowns to the show starting weeks prior to the season’s beginning, it gave many, including myself, something to do with our evenings six nights a week. 

Like the beginning of every show, it was slow. Incredibly slow. And after reading tweets about the first couple of episodes, it was relieving to see that I wasn’t the only person questioning if this was the show we were eagerly waiting for. The surprise dumping of Shannon in the second episode did little to increase faith in the show, with many branding it “unnecessary” as she’d not even had adequate time to find love. In hindsight, this should have been the first indicator that this season was not up to scratch. 

One of the biggest criticisms of season seven was the constant manipulation of the contestants’ feelings and emotions in the hope of generating conflict.

One of the biggest criticisms of season seven was the constant manipulation of the contestants’ feelings and emotions in the hope of generating conflict – a prime example being the explosive fight in episode 40 between Faye and Teddy, which resulted in nearly 25,000 Ofcom complaints. The most Love Island had ever received prior to that was 4000 complaints. Adding to this, the latest season received nearly 34,000 complaints overall, the most of any Love Island season to date. 

The previously mentioned episode was regarded by many as uncomfortable viewing, as we watched Faye continuously hurl insults and swear at Teddy and other members of the cast for an hour, all because of clips that the cast were shown during a challenge – clips that were handpicked by producers in order to arouse the most reactions. It was extremely worrying that no member of the production team stepped in to put an end to the argument, and there was seemingly no support given to any of the islanders. Seems very counterproductive, given that the Love Island team continuously made statements about how viewers should “be kind” on social media, yet they don’t care about what viewers are made to watch.

This was a turning point in the season. Watching interactions between Faye and Teddy and the other islanders was just not the same. Most worryingly, the obvious fear the other islanders had of Faye was disturbing to watch. Afterwards, there were many tweets from viewers about how they will not be watching anymore, and some even called for a boycott of the show altogether. 

Overall, season seven of Love Island was mildly entertaining: at its best, anti-climactic and at its worst, it was uncomfortable and awkward.

There was also a lot of uproar about how the show continuously perpetuates western beauty standards, but this season in particular seemed to uphold them the most. For the first few weeks, there was excessive conversation amongst the male islanders about how they are all looking for someone with “blonde hair and blue eyes”. This ‘type’ was repeated multiple times to the point where it was just bemusing to watch. It’s unclear if this is the show’s fault or indicative of the state of the individuals on the show this series, but it created an uncomfortable atmosphere. We watched contestants who didn’t fit this standard continuously being treated inadequately and overlooked. 

Despite all that has been mentioned so far, nothing was quite as painful to watch as the reunion episode that took place two weeks after the season finale. It was a waste of time and it did not live up to expectations, especially when compared to previous reunions that were far more entertaining. Laura Whitmore’s presenting was awkward, and she kept mentioning how awkward the reunion was whilst it was happening (which is precisely the opposite of you’re meant to do as a presenter). The questions the islanders were asked did not delve into any of the main points of the show, and there was nothing new learnt during the reunion. If anyone found this episode to be useful, I would be very surprised.

Overall, season seven of Love Island was mildly entertaining: at its best, anti-climactic and at its worst, it was uncomfortable and awkward. This is not to say that there were no good moments – as always, the memes that came out of it were top tier. But this was due to the creativity and playfulness of the viewer amidst the train wreck of the season. However, will I still be tuning in next year to see if things get any better or worse? Absolutely.

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