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Love Island fans express disappointment and lack of surprise as the public’s decision pairs the show’s only two Black contestants.
The highly anticipated new season of the popular reality TV show Love Island, set in the United Kingdom, premiered on June 5th. Rather than allowing the contestants to choose their partners on the first day, Love Island opted to give the public the opportunity to vote on the pairings.
During the premiere, host Maya Jama revealed the public’s selections, sparking dismay among many fans who criticized the public’s tendency to match individuals solely based on their race rather than considering their personalities.
Catherine Agbaje and Andre Furtado, the two Black contestants, were paired together, while Tyrique Hyde and Ella Thomas, two mixed-race contestants, were also paired. Some fans took to social media and used makeup color matching metaphors to suggest that the vote only considered the contestants’ skin tones.
Love Island gets hate, criticize over racial pairing
Gina Ferguson, a member of the WnR podcast team and an avid Love Island viewer, openly expressed her dissatisfaction with the show’s treatment of Black individuals over the years on Twitter. Regarding the recent public vote, she tweeted, “Soooo the public decided let’s put the 4 white people together, two Black together, two mixed race together, and then the Asian and French together…I don’t know why I am surprised.”
Black fans of Love Island have previously criticized the show for its lack of diversity in past seasons, where Black contestants were often paired together or eliminated. For instance, in the previous season, Indiyah Polack and Dami Hope were paired together.
Meanwhile, Ikenna Ekwonna and Amber Beckford, the only other Black contestants in season 8, were simultaneously voted out when the audience was asked to choose their least favorite male and female contestants.
The lack of diversity on Love Island: South Africa received significant backlash, particularly when there were only three Black contestants in the cast. Many fans took to social media to declare their withdrawal of support for the show upon the release of the South Africa edition’s cast list. This included content creators who had planned to post recaps and commentary based on the episodes.
Murad Merali, a content creator with over 261,000 YouTube subscribers,tweeted, “Just like to make it clear I am no longer reviewing Love Island South Africa.” Ferguson joined the conversation, replying to Merali’s tweet, saying, “Thanks to your video…I will not be giving Love Island SA the time of day now. They don’t know the word ‘diversity’!”
Black female contestants aren’t feeling the love
Many fans of Love Island have also taken issue with a recurring trend of Black female contestants feeling unwanted by their male counterparts on the show. Yewande Baila, a Black female contestant from Love Island season 5, discussed her experience of feeling excluded and undesirable due to her race in an interview with reality podcast host Will Njobvu.
Baila shared her unease during an episode of the show that involved a kissing challenge, where she felt as though none of the contestants showed interest in kissing her.
“I was the one that was kind of not picked. There’s always a diversity type of issue. Going in I was aware of that, but I didn’t know how hard it would be,” Baila said.
Amber Beckford, in an interview with Murad Merali, shed light on the discrimination Baila faced from fellow contestant Lucie Mabbot. Beckford referenced an incident where Mabbot repeatedly mispronounced Baila’s name after three weeks of filming together. Ultimately, Beckford expressed her frustration on Baila’s behalf and defended her by stating, “I’m from a predominantly white area.Why is it that I can easily say it?”
Beckford further described how Mabbot inconsiderately asked Baila if she could refer to her as “Y” instead of using her name.
Baila has since openly discussed her experiences with racial renaming and even authored a book titled “Reclaiming” to encourage people to embrace who they are.