Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth
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Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth

‘FBoy Island’ Canceled: A Farewell to (Very Large) Arms

RIP to the absurdist dating show, hosted by comedian Nikki Glaser, which subverted long-running sexist tropes and ended far too soon.

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Louise Barnard, Mia Emani Jones, Tamaris Sepulveda, and Nikki Glaser
Louise Barnard, Mia Emani Jones, Tamaris Sepulveda, and Nikki Glaser
Photo: HBO Max/Warner Media

In the latest casualty of the HBO Max and Warner Bros. Discovery merger finalized in April, HBO Max has canceled its bonkers, surprisingly charming, Nikki Glaser-hosted dating show, FBoy Island, after two perfect seasons. The news doesn’t exactly come as a surprise; Variety reported in July that to cut costs and redundancies with Discovery’s catalog, HBO would lean heavily into its scripted programing over unscripted shows like FBoy Island. And, earlier this year, Warner Bros. axed Batgirl altogether, proving nothing is safe.

The cancellation of FBoy Island is a big loss, even in a saturated dating show market. Among its slate of competitors—a dating show for furries, a dating show in which couples get engaged without even seeing each other, and the sprawling Bachelor nation catalog, of course—FBoy Island still managed to bring something new to the table: self-awareness about the absurdity of dating shows (and dating in general) and refreshing candor about the seemingly conflicting eras of Tinder and feminist empowerment through which we’re living.

The show, for those unfamiliar, went something like this: Three women work together to suss out who amongst their roughly two dozen unsettlingly buff male suitors is a self-identified “nice guy”—there to find love—and who is a fuckboy, only there for a chance at winning $100,000. Eliminated f-boys are comically hauled to a staged, decrepit beach reform camp, where Glaser teaches them the error of their f-boy ways. Eliminated nice guys, meanwhile, are whisked away to live it up in the nice guy grotto, tossing grapes into each others mouths and sipping piña coladas.

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But most of the action takes place among the three women and their non-eliminated suitors, leading up to the women choosing their final two men. If they select an f-boy as their winner, he has the option to take the full $100,000 and dip, whilst a nice guy automatically splits the $100,000 evenly between them.

The mechanics of the show are simple enough, but the real glory of it all—on top of Glaser’s oft-raunchy, but deeply real jokes—is the show’s total subversion of the inescapable dating show trope of catty, jealous women forever competing with each other for male desire and screen-time. In both seasons, FBoy Island’s women leads don’t compete at all; they pick their own men, actively help and protect each other, and collaboratively strategize on how to not get publicly played and humiliated like women on most dating shows.

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I don’t know that any dating show can be classified as especially “feminist” or “empowering,” as both words are being stripped of more meaning by the day in these strained, post-girlboss times. Still, FBoy Island defied a lot of sexist expectations about women and dating and somehow also managed to be funny! It’s spawned few lasting relationships, of course. But each season was packed with very memorable female leads—CJ Franco, Sarah Emig, and Nakia Renee in Season 1, and Louise Barnard, Mia Emani Jones, and Tamaris Sepulveda in Season 2—and equally memorable f-boys—Casey Johnson, Garrett Morosky, Peter Park, and Mercedes Knox—all of whom I will continue to closely follow on Instagram, I regret to admit.

In sum, FBoy Island deserved better, and so did we. Here’s hoping some other streamer picks up the show; either way, I wish its alums a very peaceful migration to Raya.