Temptation Island (17 January 2001)

by Amy Sidwar


17 JANUARY 2001

I Feel Cheated

Throughout this week’s episode of Temptation Island, I kept wondering: what is the point? If this is, as I had been led to believe, a “reality show” about temptation and seduction, where exactly is the seduction? The second episode (airing 17 January) displayed men’s hands lightly caressing women’s legs, emphasized by the replaying of these brief moments so they ran in a kind of tedious loop. I mean really, my roommate shows more skin at a graduation party than Temptation Island is offering. Last week’s trailer promised conflict, with Mandy wailing apologies to her partner Billy. Now it looks as though this drama is actually coming next week. I feel cheated. Come on contestants, get tempted or get off the island.

cover art

Temptation Island

Director: Jean Michel Michenaud, Chris Cowan
Creator: Chris Cowan
Regular airtime: Wednesday, 9pm EST


First, the men were brought to a secret island location and informed that they would “be given some choices,” namely, whether or not to watch tapes of their girlfriends’ “dates.” Or, not the actual dates, but rather the brief confessionals that their escorts recorded after the dates. The twist to this seemingly benign proposition was that if the guys “chose” to watch the tapes, then their girlfriends would be “forced” to watch comparable videos of their boyfriends’ dates. Likewise, if the men opted to not watch the videos, their girlfriends would not be afforded the opportunity to see the reciprocal tapes. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like only the men have a choice, the women *must* do what their men decide they will do.

After the guys shared a few hours bonding around a bonfire, they were shipped back to Boystown and the women were then conveyed to the bonfire location. Although host Mark Walberg offered the women the same speech as he gave the men (about how the options and non-options work), he then informed Mandy and Ytossie that they *must* watch Billy and Taheed’s escorts’ videos. They had no choice in this matter: Mandy and Ytossie (per the rules) were forced to watch these confesssionals (which involved some self-vaunting on the escorts’ parts). Perhaps the next episode will allow the women to choose for the men, thereby evening the score, but for now, Temptation Island is turning out to be a very male-centered show.

Perhaps the only intriguing factor that emerges from tonight’s episode, is that WRAZ-TV has cancelled Temptation Island. This station in Raleigh, North Carolina stated that it “will not support a program that could potentially break up the parents of a young child.” This refers to the scandalous information—which broke around the time of the first episode’s airing, that Ytossie and Taheed have a child together, which is very “against the rules.” Fox claims that it did not have knowledge of this child and, as soon as it learned the truth, the couple was promptly removed from the island. I assume this will occur around episode 3 or 4, and I also predict that the remaining couples will have much to say about Ytossie and Taheed. However, I will take this opportunity to remind them, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

Unfortunately, I felt that Temptation Island came up short tonight. I felt guilty for about a minute, for “wanting” to see personal crises, but then I reminded myself, that’s what I was promised. For some reason, I still feel confident that the show will pick up and I am eagerly anticipating the flurry sure to surround Ytossie and Taheed’s expulsion from the series. Surely, they will offer the viewer some good insight as to why they lied. Besides, how is it that Fox has chosen to draw this particular moral line? The network and the show’s producers have purchased men and women (“escorts” and “contestants”), rounded them up and presented them to each other like cattle, dressed them in skimpy clothes and encouraged some limited lusting, and now they’re acting as though they had some sort of standards all along. Please. Didn’t anyone teach them that sex makes babies? And that if you promote sex, you promote the possibility of conception?

Maybe I’m reaching, but what if a baby is conceived on Temptation Island? What then? Did the women have to sign a waiver to have or not have an abortion? Or, much like the bonfire choices, do the men have all the say? What other yet-unknown “standards” has Fox created? What morals—or lack of same—are they really promoting?

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//Mixed media