During a recent interview with the Radio Times, ITV commissioner Amanda Stavri responded to rumors that the popular UK dating series Love Island was looking to bring in LGBTQ contestants with an evasive statement citing ambiguous “logistical difficulties” as the reasoning behind why the show hasn’t yet sought out queer cast members.
“It goes without saying that we want to encourage greater inclusivity and diversity,” said Stavri—which is exactly the kind of caveat one uses before explaining why it’s just too “hard” or too “inconvenient” to even try to include marginalized people. She continued:
“In terms of gay Islanders, I think the main challenge is regarding the format of Love Island,” she said. “There’s a sort of logistical difficulty, because although Islanders don’t have to be 100% straight, the format must sort of give [them] an equal choice when coupling up.
With our dating shows, such as The Cabins, there is much more sexual diversity. The formats don’t have as much restrictions as Love Island.”
Last month, Love Island executive producer Richard Cowles made a similarly spineless statement, telling the BBC that recruiting LGBTQ contestants was “not impossible and it is not something that we shy away from... but there is a logistical element which makes it difficult.”
I wonder how much each of these people gets paid to not be able to figure out something as simple as how to include people who aren’t straight on a dating series. Like all existing dating shows, Love Island was clearly designed with heterosexual couples in mind, but “logistical issues” are pretty pitiful reasoning to hide behind when you’re literally responsible for designing and executing the show. Isn’t it part of their job to handle “logistical issues,” even during the straight seasons?
These tired excuses for heterosexism fall especially flat after the success that MTV dating show Are You The One? saw with its recent season that featured a “sexually fluid” cast. For Season 8 of the series, all cast members identified as bisexual or pansexual, and their “perfect match” could be any other person on the show, regardless of gender. It’s not difficult to imagine how a similar approach could be applied to the format of Love Island.
When it comes to dating shows, the refusal of networks and production companies to consider having LGBTQ casts is baffling to me—are they really too homophobic to see the extreme dramatic potential of a lesbian bachelorette???? Or even just the inevitable messiness of a queer dating show where everyone on the cast wants to bang everyone else???? There was a FIVESOME on the queer season of Are You The One? and yet these network executives are still twiddling their thumbs!!!!!! Heteronormativity is a plague.