Why Aren't Love Island's Black Contestants Getting More Screen Time?

·5-min read
Ikenna couples up with Indiyah On Love Island (Photo: ITV)
Ikenna couples up with Indiyah On Love Island (Photo: ITV)

Ikenna couples up with Indiyah On Love Island (Photo: ITV)

Love Island has so far given us five brilliant Black contestants to watch this year: Indiyah, Amber, Dami, Ikenna and Afia. But by the end of each episode, you’d barely know it.

As many fans on social media have pointed out, this season is fast becoming ‘Gemma Island’, with Gemma Owen (daughter of former England footballer and pundit Michael Owen) featuring heavily. Meanwhile, lots of viewers think Black contestants have not been getting enough screen time.

It’s another blow for fans of the reality show who were hoping that this year, things might finally be better.

For the past couple of seasons, we’ve seen increasing numbers of Black women appearing on Love Island. The first was Samira Mighty on season four, followed closely by Yewande Biala on season five.

Seeing the way both contestants were shown and treated on the programme made Love Island an uncomfortable watch for some, as several audience members told HuffPost UK in 2021.

Neither women were seen as viable options by many of the housemates and didn’t seem to be given a chance of finding love like their fellow contestants.

During Samira’s season, we continuously saw her being chosen last and struggling to build a connection with the male contestants. In one scene, we even watched her close to tears after a recoupling.

“Unfortunately not many guys in this villa go for me,” Samira said.

The following year, we hoped for more, but Yewande’s time on the villa wasn’t any different. Though she was coupled up with Danny for a few weeks – the only boy to choose her –  his head was soon turned by someone else.

Fast forward to 2021 – the first year we saw two Black women in the villa at the same time – and Kaz Kwami eventually matched up with Tyler and made it to the final. However, fellow contestant Rachel Finni struggled.

And just last week, some of the male contestants from the season appeared in an Instagram live where they laughed at the prospect of Rachel having entered the villa as a “bombshell.”

“Today a year later and I’m still being bullied/taunted openly for all to see,” Rachel wrote on Instagram.

All these examples (and more) have led many commentators to note that diversity in Love Island does not equal inclusivity.

One week in, is the 2022 season any different? 

There have been some changes in the show. Usually, each season starts off with the boys choosing a girl they’d like to couple up with.

But, for 2022, the couples were chosen by the audience (and, shock horror, the Black contestants were matched up with each other).

Some people believe producers switched up the format intentionally to avoid the Black women being chosen last again.

But despite the change, many viewers are still unhappy with the amount of screen time Black contestants have been getting.

Sure, Love Island is only an hour long and not every interaction can be shown. But viewers are questioning the editing choices behind the scenes.

Multiple people have suggested the Black contestants get more screen time on Saturday spinoff show, Unseen Bits, rather than the main programme.

And it seems like some Black women are getting fed up with this and are now choosing to not watch the show.

When HuffPost UK contacted ITV, a spokesperson declined to comment on the record about the perceived lack of screen time for Black contestants.

But as we enter week two, it seems like positive change may be coming.

As the season continues, hopefully we’ll see more of the Black contestants on our screen, with Black women getting their treatment they deserve.

If not, the show could lose its dedicated Black audience – and, with it, all the brilliant commentary on Black Twitter that truly makes it worth watching.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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