Written by Staff Writer
This story was originally published on February 4, 2016.
For love knows no bounds. As a code of conduct, we've agreed: "When in doubt, love."
In the City of Love, the setting for Love Island, that code of conduct is accompanied by "when in doubt, wear a thong."
After news of Caroline Flack's death broke on February 12, The Love Island Twitter account posted a short note in reference to her "life and soul."
Her death had been confirmed just hours before.
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Caroline Flack was a South Londoner who was almost six foot tall and wore "a very short skirt and not much else."
She took the stage -- literally -- as host of ITV2's "Big Brother spin-off," "Love Island." It's a reality show where women, one at a time, pair off with men hoping to win a house in which they can live together -- and possibly have sex with.
The concept is absurd, the premise sordid, and the content crass. Yet, you might wonder whether the show, however brilliant at shock value, might be the basis for much deeper explorations. Would the show be breaking the law if it was filmed in real life? Would certain aspects of the show itself be considered cruel?
Maybe, if only an expert -- like the program's producers -- could say with confidence.
There is one, however, who does know the answer to those questions: At the heart of the whole Love Island affair -- neither here nor in recent British history -- is a woman who died, a woman who makes controversy along with men all across the Channel. And who, indeed, made the program and seems to have had a relatively happy life in spite of it.
An unquestioned classic
There's a very popular post on Love Island's Instagram page, along with a shot of the program's makeup artists in white shirts. The post reads, simply, "Caroline Flack died ... Enjoying Love Island as usual."
The program has, in all likelihood, yet to be renewed for a second season, and the post was hastily deleted.
If viewers were shocked -- as is entirely understandable -- Flack's death must have been more of a curveball. Some might not know that she had been clinically depressed. And more of those viewers -- among whom Flack herself seemed to be a fan -- might not have recognized the nuances of the program and the need to care, if not for the show then for the woman who made it.
The show is at the very least controversial. The people it employs are fierce. But amidst all that fire, all that conflict, there's a woman who shined through. Her struggle, her suffering. That's what made her extraordinary.
Through it all, we have seen a woman who wanted to spread her light. We've heard her tell the media -- several times -- that she didn't want fame. She was still able to sing, film episodes of "CBB," to host and present a show, not to mention an entire format with all the heft and weight of a divine force.
Caroline Flack, as she put it, was "everything I wanted to be."
As the mainstream of British life turned its attention, rightly so, towards the shockingly shocking murder of MP Jo Cox, we might have hesitated before thinking there's no place for this woman on our screens. While we might have doubted the sincerity of Flack's final tweet, surely, amidst all that scorn, we might have been more willing to know the woman who made her own difficult life possible?
It's easy to ask -- indeed, even appropriate -- that Flack shouldn't have been on TV at all. To recall her as the sex-obsessed, sneering piece of trash that she was, with every stalk of image waiting to put it into the world.
Our love for her was as strong as our love for the program. So in that way, Caroline Flack was right.
Love Island -- an amazing show that left us rooting for contestants of all sexual orientations, from babies to those in their early thirties, from vulnerable teenagers to grandparents, and from every single gender and identity -- airs on ITV2 UK and YouTube UK