Opinion: This year’s Love Island is going to be different, hopefully for the better
Laura Whitmore is hoping to do Caroline Flack proud.
Love Island starts tomorrow - and so begins the next two months of shock recouplings, secret sex, and a severe amount of memes.
The summer of love is finally upon us, and even though we've been deprived of the greatest reality TV dating show to every grace our television screens for almost a year and a half, Love Island seems to be going through a shift this year - and hopefully, it's for the better.
Last week, Laura Whitmore took to Instagram to share her excited about the new series. Thanking the islanders for letting the world in on their summer romances, she urged the public to think before they post and told the late Caroline Flack that she hoped this year's show would do her proud.
Flack's tragic passing last year led to new insights, the seemingly previously unknown concept that those within the celebrity community are people too, that they can read social media comments, that they can be hurt by them.
Flack's death was directly linked to her fame, and the intense scrutiny she experienced at the hands of the press and social media ahead of her assault trial. The passings of Sophie Gradon in 2018 and Mike Thalassitis in 2019 were also a direct result of a series that had catapulted them into immense fame and celebrity, without much - or any - support throughout.
Since then, Love Island producers have said they are committed to a stronger aftercare programme, one that they recently published ahead of the debut of this year's series. The programme includes social media training, management guidance, and a minimum of eight therapy sessions per contestant.
The programme appears comprehensive, and ITV's transparency regarding its details must be commended, but when a show is built on drama, bombshells, and Twitter trending topics, will it be enough?
The drama, the chaos, and the shock recouplings will naturally remain, but we've been essentially promised a renewed sense of sensitivity, an acknowledgement that this year's cast - just like the casts before them - are real people, and that if they're slated for something innocuous, or given The Bad Edit, they're going to know about it afterwards.
At least, we can hope so. For all of the onus put on viewers to #BeKind, there also remains the very real responsibility of the series' producers to present events as they happen, avoid exploiting contestants' emotions, and provide them with the necessary supports in the villa and, more importantly, outside of it.
Former islander Chloe Crowhurst recently said that before she decided to go on the show, she was hounded by producers at her place of work, where one of them apparently told her, despite her protestations, that she did want to come on the show and that they had already booked her a flight.
It's safe to assume that that kind of behaviour wouldn't fly anymore, and most likely isn't happening among this year's hopefuls, but the possibility that it happened before is enough to warrant a change from the inside too, as well as from out.
We can only hope that as the weeks go on, Twitter won't turn nasty, memes won't become bullying, and that this year's contestants won't face torrents of backlash and vitriol once they leave the villa.
But we must also hope that Love Island does its bit too, that the aftercare is good enough, that these people aren't just used for entertainment and immediately thrown to the wolves.
Love Island is fun, it's easy, it's without a doubt going to be the biggest show of the summer. Let's hope it's as good as ever, in the best possible way.