David Grazian argued that the rise of reality TV has been a defining feature of the millennial pop cultural landscape. These types of shows are entertaining, and they offer “ordinary” people the chance to become known.
A popular reality show that targets the 16-34 age group is Love Island and according to ITV, this show has an ‘audience of 3.3 million viewers, which has been deemed ‘the biggest digital channel audience of the year across any channel.’ As Love Island lasts for 8 weeks, it’s only natural that we become influenced by the show as we adjust our lives in order to make tuning in at 9pm a regular habit.
What is it that makes us addicted to Love Island?
As the series has progressed, this show has slowly turned into one of our guilty pleasures. It is influential as it allows us to form alliances and emotionally engage with our favorite couples, whilst also debating over their controversial actions. Their explosive drama provides us with juicy conversations to share with our friends/co-workers.
Whilst the show is trending again, it’s important to remember that many regular viewers are still young with a lack of experience in romantic relationships. They could model their future relationships by watching Love Island.
Many have argued that this show has normalized abuse in relationships. In the 2018 series of Love Island, Adam Collard was accused of displaying emotional abuse towards Rosie Williams.
This resulted in Women’s Aid, a charity that focuses on domestic abuse, releasing a statement against unhealthy behaviors in a relationship, defining the term ‘gaslighting’ as a form of emotional abuse that can damage you both mentally and physically.
In this year’s series, viewers have already complained about Danny Bibby’s possessive and quick-tempered behavior towards Lucinda Strafford.
Protecting our Generation
It is important to consider the influence of this show as reality TV is increasing its strong focus in our generation and we need to be prepared so we don’t use these shows as a foundation for our lives. Similarly, it is crucial that we educate ourselves and listen to charities like Women’s Aid.
Christine Barter argued ‘most teenagers do not recognise the unhealthy behaviour as abuse… therefore do not report it to anyone.’ This can be worrying for parents because their children are regularly watching reality TV shows and they might not recognise that a certain behaviour could be viewed as toxic or abusive, leading them to normalise that behaviour in their own relationships.
Although reality TV can be light-hearted and entertaining, we need to remember the impact it can have. As technology has progressed, reality TV has joined forces with social media ‘to provide 24/7 content,’ meaning there’s no escaping the world of reality TV. For example, Love Island has a ‘podcast, YouTube channel, Instagram… constant inflow of tweets and hashtags.’
As our generation is full of digital natives, we have easy access to this world, and it is imperative that we don’t let their influence control us in the real world.