Love Island has been accused of “emotional abuse and bullying” after a contestant was left in tears upon being shown a clip of her partner reacting to the arrival of an ex.
Dani Dyer was devastated when she watched a clip of boyfriend Jack Fincham, who is currently living separately from her as part of the show, reacting to Ellie Jones entering the hit reality TV programme.
Jack and Dani got together in the first stages of the hit series, and have since delighted viewers with their blossoming romance.
But the couple were temporarily divided after the boys and girls were separated into different villas and introduced to new groups of potential love interests.
The girls were on Sunday shown a montage of happenings in the boys’ Casa Amor pad – which included footage of Fincham saying “oh my god” repeatedly as he realised his former flame was joining.
What was not shown was evidence of Fincham’s growing loyalty to his new partner, who is the daughter of Eastenders actor Danny Dyer.
The pen salesman has told fellow contestant he is in love with Dyer, and has slept alone outside throughout his stay in Casa Amor to avoid sharing a bed with another woman.
More than 650 people initially complained to media regulator Ofcom over what many said was unfair misrepresentation to a contestant.
That figure has now jumped to over 2,500 complaints.
Comedian Luisa Omielan said the move was “emotional abuse and bullying”, arguing it was “unnecessary” to set up a scene to hurt someone.
“I forgot how toxic manipulative reality TV was,” viewer Aine O’Donnell said on Twitter.
“That Dani stunt was so twisted I don’t know if I can continue to watch a show that encourages the deterioration of someone’s mental health.”
Many said the setup was in particularly bad taste in the light of the death of former star Sophie Gradon, who was found dead at her home at the age of 32 last month.
I was really enjoying @LoveIsland like I forgot how toxic manipulative reality tv was, but that Dani stunt was so twisted I don’t know if I can continue to watch a show that encourages the deterioration of someone’s mental health. Love Island wants people to be mentally unwell.
— Áine the Kid (@AineODonnellx) 2 July 2018
Anger over cosmetic surgery ads during breaks has added to a discomfort that the show turns insecurity and desire into a lucrative spectacle.
In Sunday night’s program Dyer was quickly comforted by her friends as she voiced her anxiety over her new partner spending three days wearing swimwear and drinking cocktails with a former flame.
“It always happens to me, as soon as I’m happy with someone, something happens to me, it’s like I’m not allowed to be happy,” she said.
“I knew it was too good to be true.”
The couple – who have been dubbed “Jani” by fans and are early favourites to win the £50,000 prize money – were reunited on Monday night, immediately making the decision to recouple.
An Ofcom spokeswoman said: “We’re assessing these complaints against our broadcasting rules, before deciding whether or not to investigate.”