reality tv

"I went behind the scenes of FBoy Island, and there are so many things you don't see on TV."

I’m standing outside a hidden mansion on the outskirts of the Gold Coast, with only a wooden door separating me from the near-naked 24 men who are waiting on the other side of it.

Low-key security guards are patrolling the perimeter while a wardrobe stylist rushes past with a hot pink blazer in one arm and a handful of men's skimpy swimsuits in the other. The faint aroma of sweat, protein powder, and Instagram accounts in need of more followers is wafting through the beachside air around me.

Welcome to FBoy Island Australia.

Filming for Binge's new reality show, which is coming to an end next week, is already in full swing as I arrive, although the ocean-adjacent mansion is a far cry from the exotic island location many of you might have been expecting. The moment I walk onto set I'm immediately hit with a series of sexy reality show stereotypes so intense, that even the cast of Love Island UK might raise their Boohoo sunglasses in surprise and say "oh... that's taking things a bit too far."

READ MORE: “I was in love and surprised my fiancé at work. He had another woman bent over his desk.”

I slowly open the front door and turn into the first long corridor only to encounter a man so muscular, he resembles an inspirational poster that The Rock might lovingly tape over his bed as a reminder not to skip arm day. He's clad only in black underwear, standing behind an ironing board and carefully pressing a white shirt (bless, trust an FBoy to be anti-wrinkle). He immediately greets our small group of writers with a cheery wave and a big smile.


Watch the trailer for FBOY Island right here. Post continues after video.

Video via Binge. 

As I wander through the set, I discover the FBoy Island Australia mansion contains both an inside and outside bar (although one of the boys confides to me with a deathly serious face that none of the men are big drinkers because of the calories), a sea of tiki torches covering the sprawling backyard and a tiny cluster of exercise equipment on the far side of the lawn. Protected from the glare of the many cameras circulating around us, there is the main hang-out space for the boys between filming too.

There are also penises. So very many penises.

READ MORE: Just every single Instagram account of the FBoy Island cast, so you can do a little snooping.

In the decor, I mean, because as I make my way around the mansion's living room, I notice that the humble penis has been incorporated into all the set furnishings. Dotted across the throw cushions, nestled in the wall art, and there are even tiny snail sculptures positioned with pride around the house, with each of their tiny faces molded into a male appendage.


Honestly, if you played a 'spot the rogue penis' drinking game while watching this show, you'd have the two house bars cleared out in seconds.

Listen to Laura Brodnik go behind-the-scenes on FBoy Island Australia. Post continues after podcast. 

I then take the stairs to the second level of the FBoy mansion, and while downstairs is a sea of lush furnishings and spray-tanned abs, upstairs is a labyrinth of rooms piled with camera equipment, makeup stations, and a wardrobe room stocked with so many brightly coloured outfits, it would make Barbie jealous. It's also where I meet the show's host, Abbie Chatfield, who immediately makes a joke about the excessive amount of penis paraphernalia strewn across the set. 

“I’m not sure how much you’ve been told about this set, but this building is actually shaped like a flaccid penis," Abbie confirms. "So when you look at it from an aerial view it is a flaccid d**k. Which is very on the nose."

The radio host and entrepreneur first came to our attention back in 2019 when she appeared on The Bachelor and has now come full circle to host her own dating show and pass on all her knowledge to the three women who are on the show looking for love.

Ziara Rae, Sophie Blackley, host Abbie Chatfield and Molly O’Halloran. Image: Binge.


As soon as we sit down in the make-up room to talk, I have to ask her one small but seemingly important question: how does a show like FBoy Island Australia actually work? 

"So on this show, we've got three lead women who are all very different," Abbie explains. "They're all very strong, loud and wonderful. We also have 24 men in the house and 12 of those men are self-proclaimed FBoys. The other 12 are self-proclaimed nice guys. 

READ MORE: Every burning question you have about FBoy Island, answered.


"Then, after going on dates throughout the series, each woman will choose one man at the end. If they choose a nice guy, they will split the $50,000 prize money. But if they pick an FBoy, then the FBoy has control of the money," she continued. "So he could decide to just take that $50K and leave or he might say he's actually reformed, and that he has feelings for her. He could say he wants to split the money between them and be with her. So that's the concept."

When it was first announced that the FBoy Island franchise was coming to Australia via Binge in December of last year, and that Abbie Chatfield would be the host, there was a wave of online criticism concerning the show's premise and her role within it. 

"I didn't think anyone would be upset about the show concept because it was clearly satire," Abbie says in response to the backlash. "People were very keen to jump on and say 'she isn't a feminist'. But I got called into Warner Brothers, who are making the show, and I have a close relationship with them because of The Bachelor and also The Masked Singer, and they asked me to host the show. 

"They told me what the premise was and it sounded very funny. I ended up watching two full seasons of the show in a week. I was up until like four in the morning after doing nightly radio. I would just think about this show all day. 

"We know what reality TV is and we call it out in a funny way. So yes, this is a funny, silly show. And I get to roast FBoys all day."


"One of them wolf-whistled me the other day when I came into elimination, but I call them out on things like that," she continues. "Also, one of them stole one of my jokes the other day. But I just told them 'oh, well done.' Like every other man out there stealing a woman's jokes and taking credit for it. This is why the show is perfect, the whole point is to be ripping into this.

"The three women on this show aren't aren't dainty wallflowers," Abbie concludes. "If anything, they are far too skeptical of the boys. They've come in saying 'as far as we're concerned, you're all FBoys and f**king prove to us that you're not.' And then maybe you'll see some FBoys find redemption."

Inside the FBoy Island mansion. Image: Supplied.


At that moment, one of the show's leading ladies, 26-year-old occupational therapist Molly O’Halloran, returns from filming a long date with a possible FBoy, and she tells me that a recent (horrific sounding) relationship break-down is what pushed her to apply for the series.

And yes, she is here looking for love. 

“I'm not going to let past trauma prevent me from actually forming decent, new relationships with people," Molly says." It's been s**t. It's been horrendous, but I can't do anything about the past. I'm here to hopefully find love, and to call out bad behavior from the boys."

“It’s been pretty fun so far. I feel like I’ve been on a three-week holiday, it's been a complete whirlwind. I was not looking to go on a TV show, I’m just here for the experience and to see where it takes me. I don't want to be an influencer," she continues.

“My parents will be horrified and I think considering what I've been through in the past, they were really worried about me putting myself out there. Of the public seeing me go through this experience, my parents are very conservative, very private people. But at the end of the day, I'm pretty strong and ballsy and they'll always back me up.”


In order to process this new wave of information, I feel a desperate need to escape the Penis Palace and beefcake bros that dwell within for a few moments of solitude and reflection, so I head outside and down to the beach. 

As I wander across the FBoy backyard, I notice that the lawn is strewn with tiny white feathers, so I flag down a few of the boys and asked why their space resembles a crime scene. They say it was from a pillow fight the night before and I laugh and say that must have been a pretty hectic night of filming.

"There were no cameras here last night," one of them says, and I take that as my queue to keep on walking, fast.

"Spying on some FBoys in the wild". Image: Supplied


Down on the beach it's blissful to be alone with just my thoughts, the waves... and about 10 crew members who are in the midst of filming a date with 21-year-old model, Ziara Rae, and one of the mansion men attempting to win her over.

There's an elaborate set up on the beach, waiting for the duo to make their way to it and kick off a romantic date. But first, the crew has to capture the perfect shot of the would-be couple walking by the waves.

So they walk... and walk... and just when you think it's done... they film the walk again.

As I watch these beautiful young people walk in their own personal form of seaside purgatory, I can't help but wonder if any of these reality TV couples who ended up in love, married, and with babies, actually liked each other at all? Or did they just spend so much time performing mundane stunts for the cameras, that eventually their souls left their bodies and their leftover flesh just decided to shack up together?

Something to think about.

Laura Brodnik making sure the bar doesn't go to waste on FBoy Island. Image: Supplied. 


After her date, I ask Ziara what it's like to not only date a man who might be a self-confessed FBoy, but to also have a swarm of cameras follow your every move.

“I've been screwed around by a lot of FBoys in the past," she replies. "But I’m here to learn about myself and figure out who these FBoys really are,” she says. “At the end of the day, I want to leave here with a nice guy or maybe a reformed FBoy. When I’m talking to the right guys, I don't even notice the cameras are there. 


“My biggest fear coming on this show was that I wouldn't be able to bond with the other girls, that was quite daunting. But I'm very lucky to be doing the show with Molly and Sophie.”

Photos of potential F Boys can be found scattered around the mansion. Image: Supplied. 


This is a concept 26-year-old professional DJ, Sophie Blackley, very much agrees with, and adds that her time in the mansion has been spent attempting to happily weed out the FBoys.

“I'm ready to call out the FBoys of the world,” she says. “The girls and I spend a lot of our time actually bonding with each other. When we do see the boys, yeah a lot of the time they've got their tops off. But they're all amazing, all beautiful men. 

“Although, we've got a few show ponies within the group," she continues. "I have been people-watching from my cabana, so when people think I'm deep in conversation with my man beside me, I then notice that some of the other guys can't deal with not having my attention on them. So they start doing these random things to get my attention. That’s a big FBoy vibe.

“By being on this show, I hope that I can make my friends and my family proud. I hope we can help women around the world to empower themselves. That's what I want out of this."

On that note, it was time to leave FBoy Island Australia, and return to a place where the men are still shady but the bars are less stocked.

 FBoy Island Australia is now streaming on Binge.

Laura Brodnik is Mamamia's Head of Entertainment and host of The Spill podcast. You can follow her on Instagram here.

Image: Supplied, Binge + Mamamia. 

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