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Love Island South Africa: Is Redemption Possible?

A few weeks ago, many South Africans had their eyes glued to the screen as the spin-off of the popular international show, Love Island, debuted on screens (Mnet channel). If you have seen the many reviews and responses, you might already know that the premiere was nothing short of a mess.

The first and biggest outcry was on the lack of diversity. The show had an overwhelming majority of white contestants, who only make up less than 10% of the South African population. Not only were South Africans shocked but, the shows international audience could not look the other way to this. Many worldwide viewers criticised the show for the lack of diverse representation. One could note that Love Island UK has had more black contestants than Love Island South Africa has had. Mnet producers released a statement following the backlash, expressing an apology for the lack of diversity, and claimed it was not representative of their other spin-off shows, such as Survivor SA and The Bachelor franchise. Many were quick to point out that those shows, too, lacked diversity. South African viewers are already used to this whitewashing and are numbed by the lack of care by the producers; it was the international outrage that put pressure on the producers to respond to the public.

Now, the show not only disappoints with its lack of diverse representation but, the production quality was poorer than a high school amateur movie production. The lighting was terrible, and the sound quality was bad; so much so, that the show was being muted at times leaving viewers thinking that their tv’s were the problem. Scenes were being repeated and viewers often heard and saw behind-the-scenes staff on the screens.

Is it too late for the show?

The show has improved on its production quality but, is yet to be rated perfect. The production team seems to have underestimated the workload of shooting and editing a live reality show. With regards to diversity, the show has promised representation and is slowly introducing more islanders of colour, however, we have yet to see if this continues till the end of the show.

Many viewers are still watching and will continue to do so because, the show itself is entertaining and drama filled. Let us hope the producers will not mistake the views and ratings for approval. Change still needs to be made. It is disappointing how in 2021, in an African country, we still must cry out for diversity. We can only hope that the show redeems itself in the coming weeks and gives its viewers a stellar show, as promised.

Lover of poetry and prose.
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