I think the first time I truly knew shame was following one of my first kisses. I had thought the kiss had gone well, I was by no means an expert at the art, sure - but I hoped that, what I lacked in proficiency, I would more than make up for in enthusiasm. However, as we parted lips, I will never forget the slight wince on the face of Ulrich, the medieval French blacksmith, with whom I'd shared a smooch, as we stood near a shoddily erected paddock full of emaciated livestock (Details have been changed to protect the identity of Katherine Horner, the girl involved who I kissed near the service entrance of a local McDonald's when we were 12). The feeling of shame that coursed through my veins as I saw the subtlest of winces ripple across Ulrich's face, opened the valves for hot, molten shame to sluice through my body. The thought that I had perhaps done something wrong while kissing Ulrich was agony to me.
Now, that was merely an inconsequential kiss, witnessed by no one, save perhaps the lorry driver unloading frozen beef burgers by the McDonald's service entrance - Sorry! - A scrawny ram standing in the paddock... wearing a DHL uniform and smoking a fag. However, imagine if that were to be televised. Imagine if all the awkward stages of a nascent romance of yours were broadcast to the world for the scrutiny and appraisal of a baying viewing public. It would be a surprise were this not to take a toll on one's psychological well-being.
Which is why the producers of Love Island have announced that each contestant who appears in the new series of the show, scheduled to begin Monday, June 3, will be provided with a minimum of eight therapy sessions. The purpose of the therapy sessions will to help them cope with the consequences of appearing on the show in both the short, and long-term.
It is obvious that the stresses of having survived for, perhaps weeks, cut off from your friends and family, cooped up in a villa with stranger, knowing that your every move and action is being filmed, make it necessary for some kind of support structure needs to be in place to help participants process the experience. However, it is equally vital that they are assisted in coping with the changes to their lives that their new found fame will bring, not to mention the struggle and pressure to feel the need to possibly cultivate media careers following their stint on the show. It is with regard to the failure of ITV to provide contestants with supports to these long-term pressures that has drawn criticism and led to these changes in policy.
The subject of what kind of aftercare and support is given to participants in reality television shows has also come under scrutiny more broadly recently, leading to the cancellation of ITV's long-running Jeremy Kyle show. There was uproar after the paltry amount of support provided to those who had appeared on the contentious chat show was revealed following the death of a person who had appeared on The Jeremy Kyle Show. In response to the scandal, ITV cancelled the programme.
Indeed, two contestants from previous season's of Love Island have died, and, in the wake of calls for the show to also be similarly, producers have announced these significant improvements to the support provided to contestants Aside from the therapy that will be provided to the contestants, there will also be more comprehensive discussions with contestants, before filming, about the potential ramifications of appearing on the show and how it will impact on their lives. They will also be provided with training around financial management and coping with the added attention they will gain on social media following the show.
Throughout the filming process there will also be psychological assessments carried out by trained doctors, to help ensure that each contestants is able to cope with the experience of being on the show.
Richard Cowles, the creative director of ITV Studios Entertainment, said of the changes.
“Due to the success of the show, our Islanders can find themselves in the public eye following their appearance.
We really want to make sure they have given real consideration to this and what appearing on TV entails.
Discussing all of this with us forms a big part of the casting process and, ultimately, their decision to take part.
Also, as we are outlining today, our welfare processes follow three key stages: pre-filming, filming and aftercare and we are increasing our post-filming support to help Islanders following their time in villa."
While the show is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable reality television programmes of recent years, it is evident that participation, in any kind of reality television show - and particularly a programme which seeks to reveal such intimate aspects of its contestants - can present serious psychological problems for those who appear on it. As such, it is vital that such steps are taken to help contestants cope, both with the experience itself, and with the inherent changes that it will have on their lives. Because it is grotesque that the cost of producing a frothy and entertaining reality show, should be the eventual deaths of its participants.