There’s a battle brewing, and it’s being fought by streaming services, cable TV and Primetime television. If you’re too weak to resist, UnBinged is here to help, telling you what to hate, what to love and what to love to hate.
This week we binge (and mostly want to purge) the latest in inane reality TV – from shirtless fuckboy dating and monster-masked match-making to food prep with the princess of fake and her famous friends and frenemies.
FBoy Island (HBO Max)
Ever watch a train wreck in slow motion, wherein a locomotive gradually collides with a cow, covering everything in twisted metal and bovine entrails? No? Not something you want to see? Then you might want to skip all 10 dreadful episodes of FBoy Island, the dating show equivalent of watching a lethargic heifer stuck on train tracks.
FBoy Island (which should probably be called Red Flag: The TV Show) takes 24 young dudes with assorted app-based careers and attempts to make a love match with one of three single ladies. But there is a twist: 12 of the lads are only there for the money while the other 12 are there for “love.” And also for the money. If the girls choose one of the latter, aka the right guy, he wins $100k. But if they choose the F-boy, he must decide between the cash prize or the girl and half of the money.
FBoy Island is like a TikTok version of Olympic Village, but with far less impressive people. Good-looking shirtless young men in puka shell necklaces attempt to find love and/or cash in on someone else’s naïveté. Host Nikki Glaser is one of the few bright spots in the show, flexing her comedy chops to an almost bodybuilder level of excellence. But outside of watching Glaser having to explain her own jokes, the entertainment of the show derives solely from watching self-indulgent jerks attempt to trick women on an over-produced reality show that bears no resemblance to real life.
If watching simpletons attempt to take advantage of women is your cup of tea, then good news: someone at HBO Max read your diary and made Fboy Island just for you. Otherwise, skip this insipidness.
Cooking With Paris (Netflix)
Back in the early Aughties, reality-show pioneer Paris Hilton took her Simple Life on the road with former BFF Nicole Ritchie through rural America to try their well-manicured hand at basic life skills. The draw of the show was watching the privileged yet inept duo crash and burn at simple tasks, thus creating comedy at every turn. The show was a hit and created a cultural tidal wave of reality shows based on watching rich people.
With Cooking with Paris, Netflix attempts to capture lightning in a bottle 20 years later with a similar premise, but in a kitchen. Starring the golden heiress as she fusses about her mansion in designer couture, the show tries to convince us that she hasn’t grown much in the two decades. And while Hilton might look a little redonkulous making glitter marshmallows in an evening gown (and her new Dianne Keaton-like obsession: fingerless gloves), this is all a carefully curated view of the media mogul, a woman who built a pink-hued empire based on people underestimating her abilities.
Does Hilton go to Gelson’s in a bedazzled gown? Probably. Has she spent four decades on this Earth not understanding how an oven works? Probably not. In truth, Paris is trying to play both sides of the field. She knows people tune in to watch her fumble around her kitchen, but in actuality, she is the one with the Netflix deal. She’s a smart cookie when she needs to be, but that isn’t for the majority of this show. Instead, she puts on her baby voice, slips on her stilettos, and almost cuts off a finger while dicing potatoes as she tries to make “sliving” happen. (Sliving is the shortened version of “living” and ”slaying,” a term no one should ever use. Not even in jest.)
In the kitchen with Paris is a bevy of her socialite friends and celebrity stans that act as Ms. Hiton’s sous chefs, sharing stories about their lives and their friendship with the tiara-wearing tycoon, including the likes of Kim Kardashian, Saweetie, and Nikki Glaser (who returns from her flirtation with a possible strain of airborne herpes on FBoy Island to help Paris make fries). This is by far the tastiest part of the show, as the cooking falls into the background and the stories take center stage.
Like Paris’ food, this show contains no nutritional value. If you were tuning in to learn how to cook, there is a good chance that will probably not happen. Watch it for the dish (or the ditz), not the dishes.
Sexy Beasts (Netflix)
Sexy Beasts isn’t Netflix’s latest dating show, but it is the strangest. The reality competition follows horny singles as they look for true love while donning incredible feats of make-up to create a nightmarish version of The Dating Game. People wear life-like fox masks. Or mouse masks. Sometimes owls… If you ever wanted to know what it would look like for a show to be produced by a sentient can of Four Loco, well, now is your chance.
Part Glow Up and part Temptation Island (with a dash of Toxic Avenger thrown in for good measure), Sexy Beast is a wild ride, with gorgeous singletons dressed up in prosthetics, many resembling anthropomorphic dinosaurs, humanoid panda bears, and Satanic demons. Think Beauty and the Beast sans the moral lesson.
Attempting to cash in on the age-old saying “never judge a book by its cover,” the show fails on every level. As many of the contestants have personalities based on their looks, potential partners just assume that any possible match will be a hot, good-looking person. And they are right. There are no risks. The real entertainment is when a candidate demonstrates their genuine relief over not being chosen by the horny panda (or whatever). Their earnest joy at being passed over is perhaps the most believable and gratifying part of the show, second only to forcing contestants to walk around shopping malls and partake in romantic dinners in their monster make-up.
This is a show solely for people who derive joy from watching strangers undergo extremely uncomfortable experiences. But for everyone and anyone else, it should be a hard pass. If you’re trying to survive the insanity of daily living, please read a book, volunteer, use your time on this Earth any other way. Sexy Beast is why we can’t have nice things. Because the minute we get nice things, like enjoyable reality shows about dating or make-up, we feel a need to push it to the edge, make it look like a nightmare-conjuring dolphin hominid, and force it to jump through hoops for our amusement.