Reality television is a television genre that is rapidly growing on streaming services for its low production costs and rapid international distribution. In the contemporary media landscape media content frequently make topics such as diversity and inclusion an important point to make. Love Island a British reality program casts ordinary people to take a chance at winning fifty thousand pounds and love. By claiming diversity, shows such as Love Island are responsible for accurately representing diverse perspectives that exist in society to their audiences. Although historically, minorities, especially black women, have persistently been misrepresented in the media. The negative representation of black women dates back to the 19th century with the rise of three stereotypes that are still common today. This study aims to determine how reality television programs such as Love Island represent diversity, most specifically, in black women. Specifically, this research addresses representation theory, stereotypical characterization of black women in the media, construction of authenticity in a hyperreality environment, and the creation of narrative in order to fully convey the representation of black women on the show. In this context, the representation of black women contained media texts of Love Island that displayed language or images surrounding black women. The data for this research was extracted from seasons 3 to 7 from Love Island through the streaming platform Videoland. Within these seasons, meaningful representation of black women takes place that met the analysis requirements set for this research. The analysis process of the data was conducted utilizing a combination of Qualitative Content Analysis, Thematic Analysis, and Narrative Analysis. The results of this study show how aspects of traditional and contemporary stereotypes of black women persist in Love Island and are transformed to fit the format of the show. Additionally, themes of authenticity were found in the data through honest language, playing the game, and loyalty. Furthermore, the findings of the narrative analysis established the stories of various black women represented their multi-dimensionality by focusing on romantic connection plot points and illustrating different types of protagonists in the show. The findings of this study establish that through the transformation of the Mammy, Jezebel, and Sapphire stereotypes, along with the construction of authenticity and the analysis of the way black women’s narratives are presented within the program, a multidimensional representation still incorporates negative racial stereotypes in their representation.

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Dr. Willemien Sanders
Media & Creative Industries
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Natisha Engel. (2022, June 8). Stereotypically Multidimensional: How Love Island Represents Black Women. Media & Creative Industries. Retrieved from