A section of South Africans has taken to social media to call out the organizers of Love Island for casting predominantly White contestants for the debut season of the hugely successful dating reality series in the African country.
Following the unveiling of the contestants during the show’s season opener on local television station M-Net network on Sunday, a number of people on social media were quick to notice only three out of the ten “islanders” – as they are called – are Black, CNN reported. Meanwhile, the country’s population is over 80% Black. The Black contestants who made the cut include Durang Atembe, Asad Boomgaard, and Thimna Shooto – who is reportedly the show’s only Black female islander for the moment.
Following the backlash, a spokesman for the reality show assured viewers more islanders will be joining the competition over the next couple of days, and they’re set to reflect the Southern African nation’s diversity, BBC reported.
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“We pride ourselves in reflecting diversity and inclusion for all our shows, including Love Island,” the reality show’s distributor in the country, DStv, told the news outlet. “Viewers can be assured that this will become more apparent in future episodes of Love Island SA. We hope viewers will keep watching to enjoy the new stars of the show who will be arriving over the next few days.”
After the reality series garnered popularity and significant viewership in the UK, spin-offs were subsequently launched in other countries including the United States, Australia, Sweden, and now South Africa. The show’s format involves male and female contestants staying in an isolated luxurious villa as they get to know each other in their quest for love. During the course of the show, contestants are re-coupled and any islander who is left single is eliminated. The islanders also partake in games and challenges. In the final week, viewers and the public get to vote for the couple they believe deserves to win the season as well as the cash prize – which is 1 million rand ($66,000) for Love Island South Africa.
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Despite Love Island’s success, CNN reports its UK version has been engulfed in a series of controversies. In February 2020, the show’s former host, Caroline Flack, committed suicide. Prior to her death, Flack was scheduled to stand trial on charges of assaulting her partner. Two former contestants – Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon – had also taken their lives prior to Flack’s incident.
Previous Black contestants have also reportedly shared experiences of being racially discriminated against while on the show. In the wake of the controversies, the show’s organizers announced an introduction of interventions and measures to mitigate them.