(Warning: This post contains spoilers for FBoy Island Season 3, Episode 9.)
FBoy Island operates on a simple but powerful premise: Three women date their way through a group of guys and try to suss out who came as a Nice Guy (meaning they’ve agreed to split the show’s $100,000 cash prize, should a woman choose them in the end) and who showed up as an FBoy—meaning, they’ve reserved the right to take all the money for themselves. At least, that’s how the show is supposed to work.
In its first two seasons, which aired on Max, FBoy Island undermined its own premise by building in loopholes to save the women who’d chosen FBoys. Ethically, this makes sense; reality television has rightfully earned a reputation as an exploitative genre, and as FBoy creator and former Bachelor producer Elan Gale explained to the A.V. Club after Season 1, he wanted his show to be different. As admirable as that impulse might be, however, it’s left this beachside dating show a little stakeless—a problem that’s become increasingly obvious in Season 3, which aired its penultimate episode on the CW this Friday.
Given where things stand now, it seems that all three of this season’s leading women—model Hali Okeowo, former competitive snowboarder Daniella Grace, and onetime Bachelorette Katie Thurston—might deliberately choose FBoys in the finale. Some of these guys swear they’ve been “reformed,” but one of them (Jared from Miami) is an unrepentant tool. He’s spent the entire season bad-mouthing Daniella’s looks and personality, and he’s made it very clear that he’s willing to manipulate her in whatever ways necessary to win the money. Daniella hasn’t heard any of this, and during this week’s reunion—aptly called “The Mansplain”—it quickly becomes clear that Jared has painted a far rosier image of himself with the guys in the house than he did with producers. But even if Jared does manage to actually win, will the CW actually let him run off with the bag?
This week picks up right where last week’s cliffhanger left off: Katie is crying in the palm bushes over having to choose between Nice Guy Marco and the supposedly repentant FBoy Benedict. After some encouraging words from host Nikki Glaser, she returns to the stage and (frankly, predictably) eliminates Marco. While Katie will have to choose between Benedict and the slightly smarmy Nice Guy Vince and Daniella is down to FBoy Jared and sincere but “boring” Nice Guy Christian, Hali is stuck in a trickier boat: She’s got two FBoys on her hands, Mercedes and Elijah (“E.J.”).
This week’s mansplain threw a few curveballs—especially when a healthy number of the guys decided to testify to Jared’s character. From what he’s said during interviews with producers, this guy is a total snake, but as far as his fellow bros are concerned, he might as well be Mother Theresa. Did he pay them off, or is he just very good at putting on different faces for different people? Either way, Daniella was rightfully confused by the group’s enthusiasm—but not enough to put her off her obvious frontrunner.
Katie also got a few surprises: First, Elijah’s twin brother Elisha (aka “Keem”) claimed that Benedict had called her “easy.” Benedict, meanwhile, said he’d called her “easy to talk to.” But the bigger shocker came later, when Connor called the squeaky-clean Vince a “clout chaser” and claimed he’d said he wanted to “clap as many cheeks as possible” after the show made all the guys famous.
“I’m a lawyer,” a flabbergasted Vince says in his confessional with producers. “I don’t need clout—I’m not a TikTok comedian like someone is.”
Meanwhile, the winner for Grossest Comment of the Night goes to Steven, who impugned Nice Guy Christian’s character by saying, “He may be a Nice Guy, but I think that’s just because $50K is more than his salary.” Daniella rightfully put Steven in his place, but still, big yuck.
After the Mansplain adjourns, it’s time for each of the women to take one of their men on a 24-hour “mega-date,” which is essentially this show’s Fantasy Suites week. Jared spends his time with Daniella convincing her that he can see a future with her outside the show (and it mostly seems to work) while returning FBoy Mercedes does the same. To his credit, and as he points out earlier in the episode, Mercedes did at least split the money with Louise Barnes after she picked him last season. Still, Hali is worried he’ll split the money with her, have a little fling, and end the relationship—which would still sting. Katie, meanwhile, has a simpler night with Vince, who, in spite of the digs he endured earlier, is still a Nice Guy. They have a predictably good time and, like the other two couples, wind up spending the night together while the other men stay home by the swimming pool commiserating about their shared anxiety.
Our teaser for next week very much wants to make us believe that Daniella winds up heartbroken (there’s even a nice shot of her crying at the end to drive the assumption home) but I gotta say, I’m not buying it. If past precedent has taught us anything, it’s that this show would rather ditch its ostensible premise than play the Bad Guy—an honorable decision that nonetheless does kind of kill the suspense after a while.
In Season 1, when the reprehensible FBoy Garrett Morosky stole Sarah Emig’s heart and tried to abscond with the cash, Glaser revealed that instead, the show would donate $100,000 to a charity. In Season 2, when Mia found herself stuck with only FBoys as finalists, the show gave all three women the option to choose themselves and keep the prize for themselves—but Mia wound up taking a leap of faith with an FBoy, Peter Park, who actually didn’t betray her. Instead, it was Mia’s fellow leading woman, Tamaris, who took all the money over both her Nice Guy finalists.
As Gale told the A.V. Club after Season 1, “We had to create mechanisms by which the FBoys would either have to reform or be accountable for their actions. We wanted to make sure that there was no way for someone to win the entire game by playing dirty, even though it appeared as if there was.”
If Jared actually gets to keep the money, it would be a huge turning point in FBoy Island history, but something tells me he’ll be getting the old “FBoy, F-Bye” instead.