The untold truth of Love Island

Fans of matchmaking reality TV shows have probably heard of Love Island. According to CNN, the spicy British series debuted on ITV2 in 2015 and has since garnered viewers in the six-million range per episode — which the news outlet notes is "unheard of" on this network. The Daily Mail reports that these ratings have encouraged ITV2 to air two seasons a year starting in 2020. 

With five seasons of the popular show already streaming on Hulu, CBS decided to bring the smash hit across the pond in July 2019 with an American version airing every weeknight on prime time television (via The New York Times). Unfortunately, the U.S. spinoff of Love Island hasn't earned nearly the same kind of ratings as the original. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it's averaged about 2.25 million viewers per episode. However, CBS is expected to renew the series in hopes of a ratings growth. 

Overall, Love Island has been a bona fide success on the small screen in the UK. With plenty of on-screen gossip, romance, and drama for fans to converse over, it might actually be the juicy details behind the scenes that have made the original version of this series really interesting. This is the untold truth of Love Island.

Just how real is Love Island?

In July 2019, a number of former Love Island stars anonymously alleged to the Daily Mail that viewers don't realize "how scripted" the show is. While the reality TV series was apparently more genuine during its first few seasons, the show reportedly became "fake" and "disingenuous" as it became more popular in 2017. Claiming that the producers "don't care what they're doing to people as long as they're making their ratings," one former Islander accused them of treating the cast like "performing animals." Yikes.

The powers that be quickly denied these allegations in a statement to The Sun: "As anyone who watches the show regularly would know, Love Island is a combination of reality and produced elements that are reflective of what's happening in the villa … [It's] a fair and accurate representation of villa life." However, the above-mentioned Love Island alumni went on to offer some examples to back up their claims. Alleging to the Daily Mail that producers would tell the men what to say as they chose a woman to stay with, one person claimed that the former relationship between players Sam Bird and Georgia Steel was "completely fake" and "set up by producers."

Love Island cuts tons of screen time

Ever wonder how much Love Island content we actually get to see? While speaking with Cosmopolitan in 2018, former contestant Kady McDermott revealed that only about 20 percent of their conversations "makes the final edit." Most of the time, the Islanders apparently chat with each other about their lives outside of the villa, but producers reportedly don't find those particular conversations as fruitful as the ones regarding the actual show. 

To be fair, Glamour points out how it's no surprise that a show that's filmed 24 hours a day and cut down to 40-minute episodes would amount to a lot of missing on-screen content. However, these cuts may have sometimes affected how the audience perceived a contestant or situation without knowing the full context. Islander Alex Miller, for example, revealed one such alleged incident to Digital Spy. Miller claimed that while contestants Megan Barton Hanson and Wes Nelson appeared "a bit cold" in the episode where he leaves the house, they were apparently tearing up in reality as it was a "very tough decision for Wes to make." But this didn't make the final edit.

In response, an ITV spokesperson stated, "It is not possible to show everything that happens in the villa due to time constraints," before reiterating their goal to make a show that's a "fair and accurate representation of life in the villa."

How does Love Island address the Islanders' mental health?

Love Island alum Eyal Booker described the show as "crazy" with "lots of ups and downs" while speaking with CNN in 2019. Claiming that the series "encourages a culture of judgment," the season four contestant noted the major challenging issue of leaving the villa after months of being stripped away from real life.

Thankfully, the Islanders have access to a psychologist to provide mental health support when things get intense in the villa, according to Glamour. The producers also released a "duty of care" statement regarding the health of their contestants ahead of season five, which included "pre-filming, filming and aftercare" and an increase in "post-filming support to help Islanders following their time in the villa" (via Glamour). These changes were due in part to the tragic deaths of former Love Island contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis, who reportedly died by suicide within the same year. Producers responded to the losses by amping up efforts to offer support to the show's young stars. In addition to more psychological support, this has included in-depth conversations with potential contestants about how the show may impact their lives, social media and financial management training, and an "aftercare package" allowing for reintegrating back into society after the Islanders' faces have become familiar in the public eye.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Do contestants know each other before arriving at the Love Island villa?

Despite speculation of prior affiliations among Love Island stars, Glamour reported in July 2019 that the show's producers actually go to "extreme lengths" to ensure the Islanders have not met before they mingle in the villa, which is located in Sant Llorenc des Cardassar. The media outlet noted that contestants are supposedly flown to the island of Majorca, Spain on separate flights and days and also stay in separate hotels around the island. In addition to having their "phones confiscated" before travel, contestants are reportedly assigned a "personal chaperone" for both their safety and to make sure they don't come into contact with the others.

According to The Tab, however, many of the show's contestants have apparently had prior connections with each other. For example, Express reports that season four contestant Jack Fowler was once Islander Francesca Allen's personal trainer. Meanwhile, The Tab also noted that 2018 Islander Charlie Frederick, who previously went out with contestant Lucie Donland, was still dating Arabella Chi just before her season of Love Island began in 2019.

That trend of dumping partners to get on Love Island

There's plenty of behind-the-scenes drama of which Love Island fans might not be aware, but one seemingly common trend may have reared its ugly head as the show pulled in millions of viewers. According to Cosmopolitan, a handful of contestants reportedly dumped their respective significant other in order to get on the show. In 2017, for example, The Sun reported that Islander Jaime Jewitt had told producers he was single when he was contacted about being a contestant. However, just two hours before flying out to the villa, Jewitt allegedly broke up with his girlfriend of three months, Georgia Hayden, over the phone. When he was seen getting into bed with contestant Camilla Thurlow on the show a couple of weeks later, a friend of Hayden's claimed "she was completely gutted."

That said, Hayden and Jewitt were far from the only couple to experience an alleged breakup in relation to making it on Love Island. Cosmopolitan reports that Islander Chloe Crowhurst allegedly dumped season one contestant Jon Clark in order to be on the dating series. However, Crowhurst later publicly accused Clark of cheating on her with "15 other girls" on Twitter (via the Daily Mail). Claiming this was what led to the split, she wrote, "There's a lot more to the story which no one knows.. YET."

The truth behind Love Island's serious off-screen scandals

In addition to relationship problems, a number of Love Island stars have been involved in some pretty serious off-screen scandals. According to Cosmopolitan, one alleged incident involved contestant Rykard Jenkins, who once claimed in a series of tweets that he was "attacked" by fellow Islander Kem Cetinay and his friends at the Opal Bar in London. Jenkins had apparently been "flirting with Amber [Davies]," Cetinay's girlfriend at the time. However, Cetinay denied any involvement on Twitter

Meanwhile, Davies was involved in a scandal of her own after allegedly removing a photo from her Instagram Stories that included two rolled up notes, a bank card, and, according to Cosmopolitan, a line of "suspicious-looking white powder" on the table next to her in 2018. Davies later took to Twitter to explain that she was "completely naive to what was lying on the table." She added that she was "devastated" and "would never take drugs." 

Two years prior to this, Love Island's Zara Holland was stripped of her Miss Great Britain crown after having sex with Islander Alex Bowen on TV (via Cosmopolitan). The organization made a statement about priding themselves on "promoting the positivity of pageants in modern society and this includes the promotion of a strong, positive female role model in our winners." However, the move sparked outrage among fans, who felt the decision was sexist.

The Love Island auditioning process

Like most reality TV showsLove Island contestants have to go through an arduous audition process before landing a spot on the series. According to Cosmopolitan, this includes registering express interest, filling out a form, and answering questions about personal bad habits and preferences in potential partners. Besides the age stipulation of 18 years old, there are three specific qualities producers seek in prospective contestants. Casting producer Lewis Evans told the publication that they search for future stars who are single, looking for love, and "[stand] out from the crowd," as they are interested in "engaging personalities." 

Meanwhile, Glamour reports that producers also head-hunt potential Islanders through social media. Radio Times spoke to a few prior contestants about their experience getting onto the show and confirmed that many were scouted through Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. For example, Amber Davies revealed in 2019 that she was contacted by a casting director after they viewed her Instagram and noticed an already big following, while season three alum Theo Campbell apparently received an invitation to apply after two of the show's casting directors friended him on Facebook.

How much is that Islander in the villa?

Love Island may bring you love and 15 minutes of fame, but not necessarily fortune. According to a source cited by The Sun in 2018, considering the number of hours Islanders film, the pay breakdown is reportedly "absolutely nothing." That money, though, is in addition to free food, a free stay in the villa, and some fun mingling for eight weeks — if they manage to last the full time, that is. According to the Daily Star, the 2019 contestants would earn £250 (about $310 in U.S. dollars) for each week they appear, roughly £50 more than in previous seasons. However, this per week pay scale also did not include the potential thousands of dollars contestants might earn through sponsorships, nor the big payout if they win the whole shebang. 

On This Morning, celebrity agent Matt Nicholls revealed that sponsored posts on Instagram will garner earnings that could potentially reach up to £750,000 (roughly $911,000) or higher a year, depending on the number of followers the Islanders have and the brand's interest. Nicholls also explained that clothing/ambassador deals and appearances on TV, radio, at clubs, and even corporate events can make some contestants a pretty penny following their rise to fame after being on the show.

The truth about reality TV sex

Fans of Love Island have often wondered if the Islanders have actually had sex while filming as the act has never really been shown during any of the episodes. The short answer is yes, many of the contestants have engaged in sexual activities, according to The Sun. However, Pop Buzz reports that new "sex rules" were set for the Islanders in 2018. These apparently include STD tests, a ban on masturbation and full nudity, as well as new restrictions regarding a contestant sleeping with another Islander who is inebriated. 

The Sun alleged that producers even started seeking out contestants who had no interest in having sex on for the world to see on television. These changes were reportedly due to producers fearing how these depictions might potentially haunt the Islanders, particularly following the untimely deaths of Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon. While speaking with the publication in 2019, Islander Anna Vakili confirmed that the contestants are now "very PG" and "not very sexual." Meanwhile, a source told The Sun that producers have ultimately decided to "err on the side of caution and limit the raunchier content" as they are reportedly afraid of "another serious scandal" jeopardizing the show.

Love Island supplies food, alcohol, and heart-branded condoms

If you're wondering how much alcohol Love Island contestants consume during filming, the answer is, well, not much. Kady McDermott revealed to Cosmopolitan in 2018 that alcohol isn't allowed at night and heavy consumption is much more common during the first few days in order to "break the ice" before the producers limit their alcohol intake. Another Islander, Tyla Carr, also said that while the alcohol is "strictly managed," she noted alongside contestant Jess Shears that there are other specific circumstances in which they're given more opportunities to drink: during first dates in order to help "loosen" them up, on nights during "a celebration or new Islanders," or when something big is revealed (via Cosmopolitan). According to Shears, producers rationed the alcohol as they didn't want contestants "to be out-of-control drunk." 

The producers also reportedly support safe sex in the villa. According to the Daily Star, late Islander Sophie Gradon revealed that the show supplies the singles with condoms featuring a heart-shaped logo. Meanwhile, McDermott also told Cosmopolitan that when the Islanders worked up an appetite, they would have food cooked for them at dinner. However, fans never saw them eat since producers used that time to switch out their mic batteries.

Love Island controls clothing brands and cell phone use

Don't expect apparel endorsements when tuning in to Love Island. According to Pop Buzz, the singles are strictly forbidden from wearing branded clothing while filming the show. The ban makes sense considering that, according to the Daily Mail, Love Island has added over £136 million (about $165 million in U.S. dollars) to its revenue from companies looking to advertise their products and brands on the reality TV show. Glamour, for example, shared that the I Saw It First clothing line has served as the main sponsor for the Islanders once they arrive on set. 

Cell phone use is also managed on the series, preventing Love Island stars from communicating with anyone outside of the show or accessing their own social media accounts. Glamour reports that phones are provided by Samsung in order to allow the cast to stay in contact with the producers, as well as each other. According to former contestant Kady McDermott, the Islanders have experienced plenty of technical difficulties, including issues with receiving text messages from the producers, all of which audiences never get to see (via Cosmopolitan). We suppose even paradise on Love Island can't be perfect, right?