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I've watched reality TV for 20 years, and 'FBoy Island' is one of the best dating shows I've ever seen

Fboy Island
"FBoy Island" is the best reality dating show I've seen in years.
  • I've been watching reality dating TV since I was 11. "FBoy Island" is the best I've seen in years.
  • The new HBO show follows three women as they date a group of "FBoys" and "nice guys."
  • "FBoy Island" is full of fun twists and turns, and is a breath of fresh air to the stale format.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

I've been watching reality dating shows for the last 19 years, and I've been dating for what feels like twice as long.

From the early days of "Joe Millionaire" to newer iterations like "Love Is Blind," it feels like I've seen them all. And after another snoozy season of "The Bachelorette," I was starting to get a little, well, bored.

And then, like a knight with a shining six-pack, "FBoy Island" came along.

The new HBO show, created by former "Bachelor" producer Elan Gale, starts with a familiar premise. Our leads - CJ Franco, Nakia Renee, and Sarah Emig - all want love. And they've been put on an island with beautiful men to try and find it.

But there's a catch, of course.

Half of the contestants are nice guys. The other half are self-proclaimed "f--k boys" (dubbed "FBoys" by the wise-cracking host, comedian Nikki Glaser) who sent in casting tapes with strippers, proudly brag about their infidelities, and say things like "I'm going to d--k your girl down" without worrying what their moms will think.

CJ, Nakia, Sarah, Nikki Glaser "Fboy Island"
CJ, Sarah, and Nakia with host Nikki Glaser.

As CJ, Nakia, and Sarah get to know the men, they have to navigate whether they're falling for a good guy or a player. And there's incentive for the FBoys to put on a good show, thanks to the $100,000 cash prize waiting at the finish line.

So, do "nice guys" really finish last, like the old saying goes?

It's a fascinating question for a dating show, and one that I found extremely relatable. So I wasn't surprised when Gale told me that the concept was inspired by real-life struggles.

"When I found myself talking about dating with people - especially people around the ages of 22 to 35 - the stories that I heard, I never really saw quite reflected on dating shows," he said. "Dating shows are really predicated around the idea of picking the best person from a group of people, and they're all presented as upstanding perfect fellas or ladies."

"But in real life, one of the first things you do after a first date is ask yourself, 'Is this guy really great or is he a f--k boy? Is he saying what I want to hear?'" Gale continued.

"Fboy Island" contestants
Contestants on "FBoy Island."

To keep the focus on the actual connections, "FBoy Island" does away with a lot of the formality we're used to from shows like "The Bachelor." There's no big-budget luxurious dates or performances from random country singers you've never heard of. According to Gale, that's the whole point.

"At the end of the day, the story really is just about figuring out if these guys are who they say they are," he continued. "Too many extravagances is a distraction from that. We're not selling a fairytale, we're selling a bizarre reality that people are living."

'FBoy Island' is an unpredictable, sexy, twist-filled good time

Gone too - thank god - is the predictable dating show format.

"FBoy Island" is full of so many twists and turns, even in just the first few episodes. The producers are clearly reacting to what's in front of them, and it makes for the kind of exciting watch that I can't remember experiencing since I first stumbled on the original "Love Island" UK series a few years ago.

By the time you reach the final two episodes of "FBoy Island," I guarantee you'll be screaming at your TV.

Garrett from "Fboy Island"
Garrett the "bitcoin investor," a proud, self-proclaimed FBoy.

"All of dating is made up in real life, there's no proper or correct way to date," Gale told Insider. "I think the same way a little bit about television show formats. What's the point in making a show called 'FBoy Island' if you're not going to do things that other people haven't done yet?"

Along with all the surprises is the main mystery: Who is trying to deceive our heroines?

Some of the FBoys are obvious, like "bitcoin investor" Garrett - who will make you scared to even log onto a dating app in the LA area - while others completely fly under the radar, deceiving the three leads and viewers alike into thinking they're nice guys. You'll find yourself rooting for certain contestants, then wondering if they're about to devastate you.

The show is even more fun to watch with a member of the opposite sex, so you can endlessly debate who is there for the wrong reasons (but maybe don't put money on it - I lost $20 this way).

Nakia and cast on "Fboy Island"
Nakia with contestants on "FBoy Island."

There's also a refreshing dose of self-awareness and humor that's been lacking in recent reality TV offerings.

"FBoy Island" has a ridiculous premise, and everyone involved knows it. The girls openly laugh about contestants they can't remember in the sea of 24 guys, the men who get sent to "Limbro" - a "Survivor"-style camp for the eliminated FBoys - take part in group therapy for their player ways, and Glaser as the host cracks more jokes in the first episode than I've ever heard on 20-plus seasons of "The Bachelor."

I've always argued that reality-dating shows are a microcosm of society, showing us how we fall in love, betray, and get swayed by the pain from old heartbreaks. And what I love about "Fboy Island" is that it tackles questions that have become all the more relevant in this era of app dating.

The show holds up a mirror to our preconceived notions on what puts the F in FBoy, whether it's their job at Chippendales or the way they talk or dress. And it forces our girls to confront an eternal debate - can an FBoy ever really change his ways?

Their journey to find out is a roller coaster of a ride and, most importantly, it's a really good time.

Read the original article on Insider

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