Ofcom rejects claims that Love Island was full of 'misogyny and bullying' this year

·3-min read
Photo credit: ITV
Photo credit: ITV

Although Love Island ended four weeks ago, the aftermath of this year's show lingers on. During its eight-week run, the series received 7,482 Ofcom complaints, with viewers sharing their concerns about 'misogynistic behaviour and bullying' on social media with almost half the total complaints spanning across one week.

There were 2,481 complaints about 'alleged misogynistic behaviour’ by some of the male contestants' during the 17 July ‘Movie Night’ episode. Two days later, another 1,497 complaints rolled in during the Snog, Marry, Pie challenge, when viewers saw Tasha Ghouri left in tears after the boys Dami Hope, Luca Bish and Davide Sanclimenti targeted the 24-year-old.

But, despite having been hit by a mountain of concerns, Ofcom (the UK’s broadcast regulator) has said it will not be pursuing further complaints, stating via its report yesterday that the “negative behaviour in the villa was not shown in a positive light.”

Photo credit: ITV
Photo credit: ITV

The decision might leave people feeling rather confused; not only were complaints made around bullying and misogyny, but there was heightened worry surrounding the 'emotional abuse and coercive control' displayed by the male contestants. Like when Davide Sanclimenti branded Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu a "liar" for getting close with another Islander, despite the fact he himself kissed two other girls.

Many Twitter users even said this year's male Islanders were the worst bunch to date in terms of morals.

Since leaving the villa, many contestants themselves are choosing to speak out about their experiences. Dami has opened up about allegations that he bullied Tasha, while Jacques O'Neill publicly apologised for his offensive behaviour towards certain Islanders.

During the show, fans were quick to take to social media to express their thoughts on some of the men in the villa and their behaviour. Charities including Women's Aid and Refuge stepped in to release statements criticising the show too, after a stream of Twitter posts highlighted the misogyny.

Defending the decision, Ofcom has emphasised that having a high number of complaints about a show does not automatically trigger an investigation, nor does it mean a broadcaster has necessarily broken the rules.

Photo credit: ITV
Photo credit: ITV

An Ofcom spokesperson said, “We carefully assessed complaints about this series on a range of issues including alleged misogynistic and bullying behaviour. We recognise that emotionally charged or confrontational scenes can upset some viewers. But, in our view, negative behaviour in the villa was not shown in a positive light.

“We also took into account that the format of this reality show is well established and viewers would expect to see the highs and lows as couples' relationships are tested.”

Of course, anybody tuning into Love Island each year knows how the show works and to expect the drama, it’s partly what rakes in millions of views. But is it time for producers to take a tiny bit more responsibility, in terms of the way they stitch each episode together?

ITV’s managing director of media and entertainment, Kevin Lygo, addressed the ITV2 dating show at the Edinburgh TV Festival. He told festival-goers the only way to avoid drama on reality TV would be to stop it all together. “We are moving into a different era here and we have to be very mindful that there is a certain risk to going on television,” he said. Lygo went on to assure there are “rigorous controls” in place after contestants appear on TV, saying “physiologists are involved”.

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