It’s no secret that I am a big fan of reality television shows. A connoisseur, if you will. But if you’ve ever been unlucky enough to meet me after a glass or two of savvy b, you’ll know that I have ~very~ vocal opinions when it comes to which reality shows are worth your time.
Over the years I’ve determined a very loose system to decipher which reality shows are worth their salt, and which ones could easily be left in the past. I’m looking at you, The Bachelor franchise.
There are two things I look for in a reality show;
1. Is the drama organic?
2. Is it self-aware?
For a reality show to be successful, it needs to have a solid format that has drama laced into the very fibre of the concept. A great example is the Below Deck franchise, which chucks a whole heap of hot young people on a boat and films them working and living together in close confines. They work long hours in high-pressure situations and then they go out and get absolutely shitfaced.
That’s art. The drama would be happening in that scenario even if the cameras weren’t there.
Alternatively, a show needs to make it clear to the viewer that these creative choices are for a reason, and they’re completely self-aware of the silly/horny/wild antics happening on screen.
It’s pretty rare that a show fits both categories of my meaningless system. But now, we have a contender. This week, the long-awaited Australian iteration of FBOY Island is hitting Binge.
I’ve been keen for this bad boy since I had a chat with the effervescent host, Abbie Chatfield, while she got her makeup done on the FBOY Island set, and judging by the sound of it, FBOY Island fits my criteria for a worthwhile reality show. In case you missed it, FBOY Island Australia follows three gorgeous women as they hang out with 24 dudes. The aim of the game is they have to decipher which ones are looking for a serious relationship, and which ones are actually fuck boys. In the end, there’s a cash prize and if the girlies pick the nice guys, they’ll split the cashola. If they pick a fuck boy, he’s yeeting out of there with the cash.
You can peep the trailer below.
Sounds promising, no?
The former reality star turned media juggernaut thought so. So much so that when the gig came up to host the Aussie version of the show, she wanted it so desperately that she felt sick to her stomach.
“When I was waiting to know if I was gonna get the gig, it was kind of like waiting for someone you like to reply to you,” she said.
“I had to mute the FBOY Island US series [on IG] because it made me sick. I was thinking ‘If I don’t get this gig, I’m going to be so so sad’ because it’s just so funny, silly, it’s ripping into fuck boys in a fun, light-hearted way, it highlights patriarchal dynamics and it’s just so interesting.”
Thankfully, she landed the hosting role and although it almost killed her to keep it a secret until launch, Abbie was fkn stoked to bring her own humour and experience to the series.
“We’ve made it really funny in a way that’s really true to [the American] format but with an Australian sense of humour, and my sense of humour. It’s been a really collaborative way of working with the scripts, jokes and things like that. So this is going to be a bit more Australian and a bit more me to be honest, which I mean, I think is funny,” she quipped.
According to the host, FBOY Island is extremely aware of what it is and where it sits in the genre – which is campy, fun and ultimately super silly. But also, it adds things that Abbie would have loved to see during her time as a contestant on The Bachelor.
“It’s got a lot of comedy skits, fourth wall breaking and we acknowledge that we truly are a trashy reality show,” she explained.
“We’ve got a diverse group of people in terms of their backgrounds, and even, racially I think it represents Australia pretty well. We’ve got over 30 per cent of the cast as people of colour. Obviously, we can always do better but it’s compared to what is usually one person out of the whole cast.”
She is also proud of the transparent way the men on the show are portrayed.
“On [The Bachelor] you kind of succumb to the edit. But on this show, the guys enter knowing what their vibe will be at the very least. I liked that it has some kind of autonomy when it comes out of the edit of how they’re portrayed,” she said.
But in case you missed the tea, FBOY Island hasn’t been without its controversy.
When the show was announced back in December 2022, Abbie immediately copped shit for promoting fuck boys or giving fuck boys a platform. Ironically, the loudest voice was fellow Bachelor contestant Laura Byrne.
“Talks about dismantling the patriarchy. Announces that they are hosting FBOY Island. A show that encourages men to lie to women and manipulate their emotions in order to win a cash prize. That is enough internet for me today. The absolute hypocrisy,” Laura wrote on IG stories, alluding to Abbie.
“It was frustrating because even just the name itself is satire,” Abbie said of the controversy.
“It’s like, what’s the most ridiculous TV show you could make? Oh, an island full of F-boys. It’s camp, it’s a joke. The fact that isn’t clear from the announcement is hilarious to me because why would there be a show glorifying fuck boys?”
“They are the root of the joke. But that backlash probably came from people that I called out for slut shaming or called out weeks prior so I think maybe their words should be taken with a grain of salt,” she said.
Considering the Aussie series is based on an American version of the same premise, a cheeky Google search from the podcast host wouldn’t have gone astray before casting shade.
When it comes to publicly calling out misogyny, Abbie is on the front lines. And while bringing attention to internalised misogyny held by other women in the media industry can be pretty awkward at times, as a feminist, it’s something she’s incredibly passionate about.
“If you are perpetuating something [misogynistic] as a woman you are an agent of the patriarchy,” she stated.
“They become someone who misogynistic men can point to and say ‘Well she’s a woman’. She thinks it’s okay that she does all the dishes. It allows people to almost have a scapegoat of their views.”
FBOY Island premieres May 29 on Binge.