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30th Apr 2021

Man forced to watch his girlfriend have sex with another man in brutal TV show

Danny Jones

Temptation Island is a show that dumps ‘troubled’ couples in a remote destination and lets all hell break loose

You’d be forgiven for not having heard of one of the latest pieces of trash TV, Temptation Island. The show initially aired in the US all the way back in 2001, before being dropped in 2003 – just one of many ‘reality’ shows that fizzled out during the boom.

However, like many of its ilk – Love Island having also started in 2005 before being cancelled due to low ratings and media controversy – the show was rebooted in 2019 and is about to wrap up its third series. It is thought a UK version is already being developed.

Syndication of the series found its way on to E4 in the UK and, like the Yanks before them, British viewers have been left stunned by one particularly brutal moment. The show certainly doesn’t highlight the best parts of humanity but this is taking the piss:

As you can see in this clip from VUZU (the show’s South African broadcaster), one poor bloke is set up by the show’s producers to watch his girlfriend cheat on camera, as a snog suddenly escalates to sex in a matter of seconds.

The fella in question is Casey Starch, who dubbed the show ‘Manipulation Island’ and told his followers that “[t]hey made it blatantly obvious they had stories written for all of us we were supposed to follow.” He went on to describe the whole production as a joke and said “every day was hell”.

While this specific Twitter user clearly sees the funny side, he does hit the nail on the head for many people: “this show is sick”.

On the other hand (unsurprisingly), the majority of viewers seem to be absolutely lapping up the show. People all over social media are hailing it as “trash reality TV gold”. For most of its viewers, it’s not just a guilty pleasure, it’s a white-hot car crash, burning bright and they can’t look away from it.

It seems most people are aware, at least, of the sheer ridiculousness of the entire show. Its thinly-veiled premise that couples could somehow fix their relationship problems by pumping them full of booze and encouraging them to party while sequestered off with other attractive people is pure bait.

We’re not going to pretend people don’t like watching this stuff – they clearly do and people have been obsessed with this kind of format ever since Big Brother – but it’s worth considering the wider implications. For instance, Britain’s beloved Love Island has seen three contestants take their own lives, not to mention its host, Caroline Flack.

The culture around these shows permeates much deeper; it only becomes true ‘reality’ TV when you realise these people have to take these experiences back out into their everyday lives and, more importantly, are informing people’s already impressionable perceptions and attitudes.

As Vox‘s The fact is, participants on the show get reduced to caricatures of modern relationships. There’s the manipulative cheater, the ladykiller, the devoted girlfriend, the “crazy” (soon-to-be) ex. It’s a soap opera of epic proportions”.

Nevertheless, it’s all too real for some people and shows like this play a significant part in perpetuating these somehow glamourised personas. We’re not for one minute trying to suggest that Temptation Island are responsible for what is simply human nature – no one is perfect – but the approach in this instance, specifically, has perhaps gone too far.