Unrealistic Reality TV: Should There Be More LGBT Representation?

Lucy Lillystone discuses LGBT+ representation in reality TV

Lucy Lillystone
24th October 2018
Credit: wikipedia


When it comes to TV, LGBT+ representation is extremely important, with directors and producers wanting to appease not only fans but reflect what society is actually like. From series such as How To Get Away With Murder with a bisexual main character, to Sense8, a show overflowing with diversity, LGBT+ representation is becoming increasingly popular. However, this is not the case for reality TV shows.

Take Love Island. This year, I finally (for the first time) watched it all the way through. Although it was entertaining, I will give it that, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of LGBT+ representation. The pairings were always heterosexual and the ideal love relationship followed the norms of a male and a female pairing. This is not realistic and to an extent, I was disgusted. Ultimately, by not including lesbian or gay pairings, they are suggesting to an audience of millions of viewers that these relationships are not what truly represents love. Or even worse, perhaps they are just not acceptable? In the society we live in where I can walk down the street holding hands with another female, I would expect reality TV shows like Love Island to reflect this. And by not doing so, they are not setting a good example.

And Love Island is not the only one. With the recent return of Celebs’ Go Dating, I am expecting to again see only heterosexual relationships. I am 100% sure that there are LGBT+ celebrities out there. So why are we not portraying this in reality shows that millions of viewers watch?

Despite this, there are examples of reality TV shows that do embrace LGBT+ representation. For example, a favourite of mine and my parents is Naked Attraction. This is a show that gives single pringles like myself a chance to choose a date from a selection of six naked people, based solely on their physical attraction to their naked form. It sounds strange, I know. And believe me, it is. But props to this show as frequently we have contestants who are pansexual, transgender and much more. It reflects all walks of life and, compared to Love Island and others, truly does justice to the society we are living in.

And of course, there is Big Brother. In 2017’s celebrity edition, we had representations of the transgender and drag communities. It was truly fabulous and made things WAY more interesting in my opinion. However, despite this representation, Big Brother is officially, according to Channel 5, coming to an end. This, in some ways, is again a negative for the LGBT+ community, as what does it suggest about the inclusion of LGBT+ in shows?

So while there are some examples of excellent LGBT+ representation in reality TV shows, it is not as much as I personally would expect and there is definitely room for improvement. If big Hollywood movies and Netflix Original series can include it, so can reality TV.

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AUTHOR: Lucy Lillystone
English Language and Literature graduate, writer and Film Editor 2019/20. Passionate about film, TV and books. 99.9% of my articles are me crying, emotional over my love for my favourite characters. Twitter: @lucylillystone_

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