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Behaviour on Reality TV: Do contestants act up on ITV2’s Love Island?

 by Katie Wheatley

We’re coming to the end of the eighth series of Love Island and none of us are strangers to just how much the reality television show can change a person’s life. Take Molly-Mae Hague, the show’s most successful contestant – she may have already been a social media influencer before entering the villa, but no one could have anticipated her six million Instagram followers, becoming the Creative Director of PrettyLittleThing, and setting up a successful tan brand.

Despite being unlikely to see anyone reach these heights (though Ekin-Su may give her a run for her money as current fan favourite), the lives of the islanders are never the same when they leave the villa.

So many viewers look back fondly on past seasons because of how authentic the contestants were, and how they gave no cares for their image or the public’s perception of them – but now, unfortunately, the awareness of the cameras and viewers at home is becoming increasingly evident.

Even just from glances at the camera or being upset after coming in the bottom three in a public vote, we’re left to wonder if the islanders calculate their next move based on how they think it will affect their image.

One person who has been at the brunt of the discussion this year is Tasha. Now in a relationship with Andrew, they’ve been on a rocky road to get to where they are today. People on social media have questioned her genuinity after asking Andrew to be her boyfriend two days after laying in bed with Billy, her Casa Amor fling, and wondering if she should completely cut him off – and the fun side he brings out in her – to be with Andrew.

Although I haven’t been Tasha’s biggest fan, as I mentioned last week, you have to remember this is a produced show and the team behind it will edit it in ways to fit their narratives and how they want certain individuals to be perceived by the public. Though Tasha hasn’t done herself any favours by going back and forth with her feelings, you have to cut the 23-year-old some slack – being in an environment where emotions are so heightened and things change so quickly, and having never been in an official relationship, you can understand why her head has been all over the place.

But, playing devil's advocate here, we know the public love couples who have faced hardship and find their way back to one another – though I don’t think this is the case for them.

Interestingly, having watched Love Island commentator Murad Merali’s interview with Coco and Josh, sometimes it’s not always justified to give people the benefit of the doubt over their authenticity. Let’s start with Josh. In the interview, he says he set himself the goal of being a Love Island bombshell at around the age of 15 – and was somewhat disappointed when he was held until Casa Amor. He inferred that the show was a stepping stone for bigger goals he plans to set himself, and was disappointed his fun side and true personality wasn’t aired.

Coco has also been involved in drama after the interview fellow Casa Amor contestants, Jazmine and Mollie, did with Murad ahead of her being voted off the show. Jazmine was quick to share an argument that happened between her and Coco over Andrew, who Jazmine claims to have been interested in. Coco disputed Jazmine’s claims in her interview, saying the female contestants were close and she was shocked to leave the villa to learn what they had said. Essentially, Coco said the pair jumped on the bandwagon of hate she was facing, as that was trending on social media, to keep their names relevant and get the exposure they failed to achieve on the show itself.

Whether it’s what the contestants do while in the villa or how they act after they’ve left, it’s a shame we are left to wonder if they enter with love or prospective career opportunities in mind. Only time will tell to see if the way they’ve acted has paid off, with the series coming to an end a week tomorrow, on August 1.

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