Using deep fake technology, this Spanish show convinces couples that their other half is cheating on them with attractive singles. It makes ‘Love Island’ look tame
July 27, 2023 12:00 pm(Updated 12:49 pm)
Love Island doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to looking after its contestants. Producers have been accused of misleading, gaslighting and manipulating islanders. Women’s Aid has issued warnings about the “controlling” behaviour of certain men and the lack of aftercare post-series has been denounced as inaccurate. In 2019, MPs launched an enquiry following the deaths of ex-Islanders and year-on-year, the programme has had to publicly revolutionise its duty of care of protocol to prove it is trying to be better.
But it’s nothing compared to what Netflix has got away with, in its latest dating reality series Deep Fake Love.
Using deep fake technology, this Spanish show convinces couples that their other half is cheating on them with attractive singles. Worse, the first time they’re shown the footage, they have no idea that what they’re watching could potentially be AI-generated. When they are told that some of the videos are fake, they must decide whether what they’re seeing is true or false. The couple who correctly identify the most videos as deep fake or real take home €100,000 (£85,895.50).
The five couples taking part are split up and put into two separate houses – “Mars” and “Venus”. There’s Manuel and Aida, who have been together for a year and a half and are planning their wedding; Javi and Paula, who have recently got back together after taking a break from their nine-year relationship; Ángel and Gabriela, who are extremely confident in their five-year relationship; the show’s only gay couple, Ramón and Alejandro, who have also been together five years and hope the experience will bring back their spark; and Rubén and Isa, engaged despite only being together for eight months.
Almost everyone is crying before the game even starts, a sign that this show is not going to go well for its participants. “Remember I love you!” the couples shout to one another as they walk off to their new houses, with the kind of distraught emotion I’ve only ever seen from Jack and Rose on the Titanic. The tears are quickly dried, however, when they get to “Mars” and “Venus” to find 10 sexy singles – to use the international parlance of dating shows – ready to flirt with.
The problem is, of course, that once one person sees their boyfriend or girlfriend snogging or shagging someone else (Deep Fake Love gets surprisingly X-rated), anger and jealousy kicks in. Emotions cloud judgement and it almost doesn’t matter if the clip was real or fake; in almost every case, they retaliate by doing some snogging of their own. The show descends into a depressing, tit-for-tat game of cheating and lies – all of them end up betraying their partner in one way or another.
It’s a cruel and manipulative game, which, in the past, has made for fantastic television: Big Brother was a massive hit for a reason. But there’s something incredibly uncomfortable about watching a woman break down in hysterics after seeing the man she loves grab another girl’s arse in a swimming pool. Even worse is the fact that their pain might be for nought – the doubt put into their minds is akin to psychological torture. It’s gaslighting 101… maybe we should cut Love Island some slack?
Unlike Love Island, in which people force themselves to like each other to stay on TV, these are real people with real relationships and emotional histories. Over the eight episodes we watch them torn apart, all leading to an explosive finale in which they’re all told that, yes, while some of the clips were AI, the person you thought was the love of your life did in fact cheat on you. It’s other people’s misery packaged into a shiny entertainment format and it’s disturbing.
When we talk about our concerns on how AI will affect our entertainment, we’re often thinking of the future. Will deep fakes of actors take over our TV shows and films? Will robots start writing scripts? Writers and actors currently on strike in America are worried about it. Charlie Brooker’s dystopia Black Mirror recently had an episode imagining the horrors of having actors replaced by AI. Ironically, it’s streaming on Netflix, which is currently hunting for an “AI product manager” offering an eye-watering $900,000 (£694,147.50) salary.
But, judging by the likes of Deep Fake Love, the age of AI TV is already here. I don’t like what I see.