It’s a given that reality dating shows focus on the young and gorgeous—men and women who will capture the imagination and/or fulfill the fantasies of the audience. But the British TV show Love Island—which spun off a U.S. version—is ready to bet that viewers will want to see people in their 40s and 50s stumble through the modern courtship rituals, such as they are, on camera.
We’re happy to hear that someone in the entertainment business considers the 40s and 50s to be peak years.
Tentatively titled Your Mum, My Dad, the show will “give those who settled down young a second chance at love while they still feel in their prime,” a TV executive told The Sun. Can we just say how happy we are to hear that someone in the entertainment business considers the 40s and 50s to be peak years. Is this person for real?
This enlightened insider went on to offer more reasons to be encouraged: “And, let’s face it, they know their minds, will be capable of intelligent conversation and are likely to be much more adventurous—all ingredients regular Love Island sometimes lacks.” And the show promises to feature “normal” body types, whatever that means on television. Probably, not anorexic.
Love Island Grows Up?
But this won’t be mature men and women following their own whims into a hot tub or a hotel suite. Yes, the contestants would spend time at a gorgeous tropical retreat, but the format calls for their children to be behind the scenes attempting to pair them up. Ugh. We can think of nothing worse. It infantilizes the grown ups, making them pawns in the romantic games of their kids—who you can bet will be young and gorgeous.
It is likely that, forced into the framework of 20-somethings, they’ll be baited to behave just as badly.
If people at this age “know their minds” can’t they make the decisions for themselves?
And do we really think that the producers will allow the older set to calmly, rationally look for a new mate or a fun companion? Of course not. “Rather than older people being put on the show to introduce a new and more salutary spectacle of what finding love might look like, it is far more likely that, forced into the framework of 20-somethings, they’ll be baited to behave just as badly,” Zoe Strimpel wrote in Unherd.
We should expect a lot of talk of Viagra, saggy boobs, the evils of cellulite and love handles. We should also brace ourselves for the contestants to become the butt of jokes or nasty comments in social media. Young people watching could see the machinations that are normal in these types of shows as the sad strivings and desperation of people hoping for one more chance at romance. We can see producers and audience alike projecting unfortunate stereotypes onto contestants.
Strimpel understands this. “After years of digital mediation, sexuality and its subtleties have been overpowered, made to fit the screen,” she wrote. “And the consequences of this aren’t just affecting young people anymore: they’re creeping beyond the generations that grew up on the internet. Sticking older people in the Love Island arena is no victory for them, or for love—it’s the opposite.”