Superproducer Elan Gale Explains Why FBoy Island Can’t Stop Saying “Effboy”

Photo: Courtesy of HBO Max.
“Most people hear the name, and they think it's not real,” producer Elan Gale admits over the phone the week before the premiere of his new HBO Max series FBoy Island
While Gale — perhaps The Bachelor franchise’s most famous producer until his 2018 exit — jokes that he is often told his new show “sounds like a 30 Rock sketch,” it is very much a real dating competition hosted by comedian Nikki Glaser. FBoy Island follows three eligible women attempting to choose a suitor from 24 men on an island paradise; twelve of the contestants are self-described “nice guys,” and the other 12 are proud fuckboys. Leads Nakia Renee, CJ Franco, and Sarah Emig have no idea what category their prospective boyfriends fall into until they’re eliminated. It’s an overwhelmingly watchable series and one with end-of-episode twists that keep you clicking “play next episode” (see: Limbro!). 
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There’s one nagging issue fans may have while settling into FBoy Island though: the repeated use of the word “f-boy” — pronounced, constantly, as the dragged-out “effboy” — instead of the colloquial “fuckboy” that many of us sling at our least considerate romantic entanglements. For a program on HBO Max — the streaming arm of the famously permissible HBO — it’s a surprise that FBoy Island usually avoids airing the expletive at its heart. Gale has a defense for that.

“For me anyway, ‘fuckboy’ is a term that a lot of people know and a lot of people don't. I think that ‘f-boy’ is a smoother transition into watching a show that people have watched before,” Gale says. “When you talk about ‘fuckboys’ ad nauseam, at some point it gets to be too much [on your ears]: It feels like a mobster movie.” 
Thanks to Gale and Co.’s work, FBoy Island is much more Bachelor in Paradise than The Godfather. Still, that doesn’t stop certain contestants from throwing out a true “fuckboy” accusation in the heat of competition.  
Refinery29: When people actually say “fuckboy” or someone gets upset and calls someone a “dickhead,” it does hit harder.
Elan Gale: “All the f-boys on the show are f-boys, but ‘fuckboy’ is almost the next level. If someone's a fuckboy, they've really gotten beyond ‘f-boy’. Maybe ‘f-boy’ is like ‘junior fuckboy.’” 
They're JV squad f-boys. Considering this wide array of possible classifications, when did you actually start dreaming up the show? 
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“It was maybe a little under two years ago, I started thinking about ‘What is the next iteration?’ How do you make a dating show that is more reflective of the life of dating that people are currently talking about? One of the things that really kicked off the thought process behind the show was, when you go out with people for the first time, everyone usually puts their best foot forward.
“There's obviously exceptions, but very few people go, ‘Hey, you know what? I'm interested in dating you but I'm kind of a fuckboy, you should be careful and not get attached to me.’” 
But, as a woman dating in Los Angeles, that’s obviously what’s happening out here. 
“In a world where people are honest about who they were at the beginning of the relationship, can that relationship change that person? Can that honesty help people break down some of those barriers earlier on? 
“Is it more fair to tell the leads of a show like this, ‘Just like in real life, you're going to meet some incredible people and you're going to meet some douchebags, but you're not going to know who is who. Just like when you go to a bar. Just like when you meet someone on Bumble.’” 
The Bachelor is rarely this realistic about how people date. So were you shocked when language from the franchise popped up and someone accused another contestant of “not being here for the right reasons?” 
“It's an iconic thing that everyone immediately recognizes. The reason it's so iconic is because it's totally how we actually look at dating. We often ask ourselves, ‘Is this person dating me for the right reasons?’ That's code for, ‘Does this person love me for who I am inside?’ That's why it has spread beyond The Bachelor to everywhere.”
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I’m not going to ask you to comment on everything happening in Bachelor Nation this year, but, is FBoy Island — with its extremely diverse cast — what you hope to see in reality TV going forward? 
“I can only speak for myself. What we looked for was truly the most interesting people. On that quest we also made sure that always, in every single way, we found a wildly diverse range of human beings so everyone watching could get a sense that they have someone they can relate to. Every season of the show should always try harder to do even better in representing every potential kind of person.” 
Now I’m hoping for a bisexual FBoy Island season 2. 
“There is absolutely no reason why we shouldn't do that … There should be no rules moving forward with Fboy Island. We made a first season to really test the boundaries of what we can do on a dating show. Moving forward, we want to blow the top off this thing and go in every possible direction.” 
This interview has been edited and condensed.

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