‘FBoy’ Island Would Be Effed Without Nikki Glaser
WARNING: Contains spoilers for Seasons One and Two of FBoy Island.
In an earlier era, reality competition shows were hosted by, well, professional hosts. As a link to their game-show ancestors, unscripted competitions seemed like they needed to be moderated by professional presenters who, above all, projected neutrality. Someone like a Mark L. Walberg, for example, could bring essentially the same energy to his job on Temptation Island that he did to Pyramid or Antiques Roadshow. But 23 years after Survivor ushered in our current reality competition era, producers on these shows seem to know we know how these shows are made, so we don’t need someone presiding over them who’s going to act detached and impartial; we need someone who’s going to snark on participants to their faces the way we do from the couch, and no one is going to take to that gig more naturally than a standup comic.
Nailed It! would not be the same show without comic Nicole Byer snickering at its bakers’ misbegotten creations. The Circle needs comic Michelle Buteau to rank on its locked-up goofs and liars. And without Nikki Glaser constantly roasting its himbos, FBoy Island would have no reason to exist.
For the uninitiated, FBoy Island is, in format, basically an amped-up version of The Bachelorette. Instead of one woman choosing a potential mate by winnowing a crowd of men down to her one true love, there are three women dating in the same pool. Instead of true love being the couple’s reward, they have a chance at $100,000, but there’s a twist. Instead of the guys all being there with the sincere intention of forming lasting relationships, like everyone on all the other dating shows (in case it wasn’t clear, that’s a joke), some of the guys are “FBoys,” who just run game on women without ever seeing them again when filming is over, and the women don’t know which is which. If they end up with a “Nice Guy” in the finale, the two split their cash prize. If they pick an FBoy, he can choose to keep the full amount himself. The first two seasons of the show aired on what was then called HBO Max, but after the platform canceled it last winter, it got picked up by The CW, which premiered the third season last night.
Though everyone’s accommodations look less luxe than on the show’s original home — I won’t soon forget seeing Katie and Marco risking giardia paddleboating around a murky pond — and bad words are bleeped, FBoy Island is basically the same show it’s always been, including that Glaser remains both an executive producer and host, THANK GOD. It’s impossible to overstate her importance to the finished product, although if you’ve watched other shows in the genre, you already know. The Bachelor franchise approaches the situation with too much self-seriousness. The Rose Ceremony is edited like an arms negotiation starring someone the show’s producers don’t trust to be able to recognize when they only have one flower left to distribute, giving host (and past Bachelor) Jesse Palmer the responsibility of counting. Love Is Blind and The Ultimatum rarely bring their hosts, Nick and Vanessa Lachey, into the mix, but when they do, it’s to lecture everyone about what they have learned from their dozen or so years of marriage. Glaser’s job on FBoy Island is to do what we’ve seen her do in multiple Comedy Central Roasts: insult comedy.
“You look great, actually,” Glaser tells the dudes in the Season One premiere. “I didn’t know that GNC sold jewelry.” Remarking that the guys seem tense at a Season Two elimination ceremony, she cracks, “Did you guys just suddenly realize that no matter how hard you work out, you’ll never be as fuckable as Pete Davidson?” The Season Three premiere keeps up the tradition: “It is seriously such an honor to be in the presence of so many people who think they’re entrepreneurs. I can only imagine all the unused DJ equipment between you.” Glaser even ranks on them off-screen, as in the Season Two premiere ramp-up where she speculates about how many of them might have chlamydia.
Not to be heteronormative about one of the most heteronormative TV genres there is, but it’s crucial not only that Glaser is funny, but that she’s a funny woman. Part of her job is to check in with the women at various intervals, and something would be lost if the bachelorettes weren’t just having girl talk about, for instance, which obvious FBoys might still be worth fooling around with just for fun. “Follow your hearts, follow your tits, whatever” isn’t a line that a Jesse Palmer could get away with. Similarly, part of the reason Glazer’s shtick works on the dudes is that the meanest snaps they’ve ever heard are emanating from a beautiful woman. If Anthony Jeselnik mocked a bunch of guys who consider themselves alphas for having to pack up their protein powder and do walking lunges off the set, it might start a brawl.
Even relative to other reality dating shows, FBoy Island has a terrible track record when it comes to its matches. Given that none of the couples from Seasons One and Two are still together, it might be hard to invest in any of the relationships that may coalesce as Season Three goes on, including witnessing the process as they get together. In fact, you might decide that the best use of your time is just to scrub through each episode for the moments when Glaser tells the bachelors, “You guys do know you can use all the buttons on your shirt if you want,” or asks if they seem nervous because someone just asked them to open a condom.
Ultimately, it matters less which guys are FBoys and which are Nice Guys than that all of them are getting savaged by one of the best to ever do it.