HBO Maxs FBoy Island Embraces the Challenge of Dumbing Down Bachelor in Paradise Even More: TV Review

It didn’t take long for “FBoy Island” to make me feel like my brain was leaking out my ears, drip by stupefied drip. Brought to HBO Max by Elan Gale of “The Bachelor,” the new dating reality series is some unholy combination of “Bachelor in Paradise,” “Love Island” and “Too Hot to Handle.” The rules seemingly change by the day, and each episode is an entirely unnecessary full 60 minutes long. But did I still watch every ridiculous minute of “FBoy Island” I had in a single hazy sitting? Yes, of course. At this point in the summer, as the heat thickens and the TV offerings wane, something this proudly dumb can fit the bill just fine.

Stranding dozens of hot influencers in the Cayman Islands to find love (or something like it), “FBoy Island” tries to flip the “Bachelorette” conceit on its head with a self-consciously cheeky twist. Instead of having a general pool of muscled men compete for one woman’s affection, the series features a mix of self-proclaimed “nice guys” and “f-boys” competing for the attention of three women, who spend most of their time trying to figure out which guys belong to which camp. (That the HBO Max show makes everyone say “f-boys” instead of the actual term of “fuckboys” remains one of its most baffling, annoying mysteries.) As host Nikki Glaser puts it in the first episode, whichever men are left standing by the end will be in line to win “up to” $100,000. By the end of the sixth episode, I still had no idea how or why money plays into the show at all, but the possibility of the cash prize nevertheless looms large as contestants accuse each other of being on this all-inclusive reality show for “the wrong reasons.”

“FBoy Island” isn’t totally unaware of how bonkers it is, as evidenced by Glaser’s pointed jokes about the cast’s macho nonsense and the fact that eliminated “f-boys” get exiled to a beach shack labeled “Limbro.” But it also never quite interrogates its own premise enough for it to make much sense, either. As is inevitable, there’s plenty of focus on the “f-boys” learning to leave their womanizing ways behind, and yet practically no introspection about what it means for a man to call himself a “nice guy” while his clear ego and jealousy tell a different tale. And on a purely technical level, “FBoy Island” doesn’t seem to have a handle on its own format. Every episode brings a new set of arbitrary rules and allowances for when the contestants don’t feel like adhering to them; by the fifth episode, practically the entire premise crumbles in front of our very eyes.

So if you’re looking for anything remotely logical or elevating, “FBoy Island” is not for you. Then again, “FBoy Island” isn’t trying to be either of those things. Should you decide to take the plunge into the show’s inane depths, you probably already know how empty it’ll be.

“FBoy Island” premieres Thursday, July 29 on HBO Max.

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