Love Island Is Scripted Reality: Dani Is Fine (For Now)

Before I get into the 650 complaints Ofcom received after last night’s episode of Love Island, I have to ask a question:

Why’re they not on an island? I mean, I know they’re on an island (Mallorca), but all the clips I’ve seen have them with their feet-up in a big villa. It’s not exactly Lost or Cast Away. So they should obviously rename the show Love Villa.

Actually, now that I’ve written it down, it does sound a bit sexual-assault-y. I can imagine ‘Love Villa’ was what Joseph Fritzl called his holiday home.

Prior to this morning, I’ve paid zero attention to the couplings of Love Island. One of my reasons for leaving the country was to avoid the months in which the British public are overcome by the idea that an 8/10 might give a 9/10 a blowjob. Just watch pornography like the rest of us, it’s less shameful and far less humiliating.

I may not be a fan of mainstream reality television formats, but I do love me some controversy. So when I read that Love Island had received 650 Ofcom complaints, my drama alarm began ringing, and I knew that finally the show must’ve done something worth paying attention to.

To put 650 complaints into context; The Russell Brand Show prank phone call from 2008 received one complaint on the night that it aired. It went on to receive thousands of complaints after the Daily Mail ran a story about it, but that doesn’t count. Love Island managed to get 650 complaints on the night of broadcast, that means that whatever happened must’ve been 650 times more controversial than calling up a member of the Fawlty Towers cast and telling them you f***ed their granddaughter.

Yeah – it was nothing like that.


One of the contestants, Dani Dyer (daughter of famed Brexpert Danny Dyer) was reduced to tears after she was shown misleading footage of her boyfriend, Jack Fincham, who’s currently living in a separate Love Villa.

The footage Dani was shown seemed to suggest that Jack reacted positively to seeing his ex-girlfriend arrive in his Love Villa. What Miss Dyer didn’t see, was his refusal to sleep in the same bed as one of the new contestants and his declaration of love for Dani.

Dani had an on-camera breakdown, and it’s her reaction to the manipulated situation that sparked 650 humans to physically complain about- get this- a reality show.

The best part is that I’ve seen some of the written complaints that’ve been posted online, as well as the general outrage on social media, and everyone is responding in-storyline! Everyone is acting as though this situation actually happened as it was presented to them. As though Dani didn’t have a producer tell her what was going to happen, and the reaction they needed from her.

Now, I can completely understand people messaging Ofcom to complain about the representation of psychological abuse. The idea that withholding information from someone for the benefit of public entertainment is a poor thing to represent. It wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen in a fictional programme, but people find a lot to moan about when it comes to stories.

But that’s not what’s happening here.

The general public seems to have been conned by a scripted reality programme and you’ve got to admit, that’s pretty funny. To speak for my own subculture, that’s like someone messaging John Cena after he’s lost a pro-wrestling match, to send their commiserations. As though the match were a real fight that actually took place, and not a performance. It’s the behaviour of a seven-year-old.

What I know from studying the scripted reality format is that there isn’t a word-for-word script, but every hour or so the producers will let the contestants (kind of actors) know what’s going to be happening for the next sixty minutes. I guarantee that Dani was told about her storyline that day, at the latest. She’ll know about Jack’s other scenes, but she’s selling the story she’s been given, in order to generate sympathy. Because, if I’m not mistaken, herself and Jack are the fan-favourites to win Love Villas.

So I’d like to congratulate Dani Dyer, who’s clearly doing her job perfectly if she’s managed to convince at least 650 people that her reaction was genuine enough to warrant serious concern. She’s not going to be winning an Oscar anytime soon, but maybe an Emmy.

When people say that reality TV stars have no discernible talent beyond looking hot and being mildly interesting, they’re wrong. The job of a reality TV star, and yes in 2018 it’s a legitimate career path, is to convince the audience that something is more exciting than it appears to be.

I also know that every single one of the Love Island contestants will have some form of talent representation; They’re actors. I don’t like to use that word for reality TV stars, because of the weight and respect that acting carries, but they’re certainly an off-shoot of the craft at the very least.

I’m also not trying to say that reality TV isn’t psychologically damaging to the performers. We only need look at former Love Island contestant Sophie Gradon’s “non-suspicious” death a couple of weeks ago, to see that people who devote their lives to a scripted-reality lifestyle, clearly go through a lot of messed-up stuff.

I mean, imagine being told to fake and falsify situations for eighteen hours a day, seven days a week, for sometimes months on end. Imagine being told that you have to distort your own reality, to make it into something that it’s not, in order to entertain the general public. Imagine being under the constant pressure to be more interesting than you actually are, in order to simply keep your job.

That’s the life of a reality TV star.

So if you’re worried about the state of Dani Dyer, worry about her long-term mental health and not some fabricated storyline, designed specifically for your entertainment.

Oh, and try to remember that TV isn’t exactly what it seems, reality-show finalists are chosen before a series begins filming. It’s all total entertainment, so you can successfully unwind ahead of another day of work.

If you seriously care about what happened to Dani last night, you’d reconsider supporting a reality show that’s so intense. Filming eight hours of TV, where the director yells cut, for something like TOWIE is one thing, but devoting months of your life to constant surveillance is another creature entirely.

If you didn’t like the way Dani was represented in that episode, and you’re a die-hard fan of the show, you sort-of only have yourself to blame. Twisted production companies only continue to let the beast out of its cage, because three million people continue to feed it every night.

Today is Monday, July 2nd and tins of matcha remind me of the ground-seahorse from that one episode of The Office.

Pictures from ITV, for purposes of review.

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