Garrett Morosky didn't get to keep the $100K in Season 1, but he did get to return to Season 2!
When FBoy Island debuted its first season in July 2021, the premise seemed simple enough: Three women would have about two dozen potential love interests to meet, form connections with, and eventually narrow down to one man with whom they each thought they could see a relationship. Half of these men were self-proclaimed "nice guys" who were there to find a genuine romantic connection too, but the other half were self-proclaimed "fboys" (hence the show title), who had a history of lying, cheating, and not caring about relationships at all. They were there for the money because FBoy Island is a dating competition series — emphasis on competition. One hundred thousand dollars was on the line for any fboy who was selected by the women in the end; they had the option to split it with the woman who chose them or keep it for themselves.
Or so they thought.
The August 2021 finale of FBoy Island Season 1 revealed a major twist with that money: Host and executive producer Nikki Glaser announced the show could not condone fboy behavior and therefore would not reward the final fboys standing with such a payout. Instead, the check Garrett Morosky thought he was getting for rejecting Sarah Emig was given to a charity of Emig's choosing.
The end credits rolled on HBO Max, and co-showrunners Sam Dean and Bill Dixon turned to social media to see what audience members thought about the surprise at the end of their new series. And much to their surprise, what they saw was anger — not anger over presenting three women with potential suitors who would toy with them on their quest for love, but anger about the final moments of the season.
"The backlash against us taking the money from Garrett in Season 1 was severe. People were not happy about it. So many people were very upset by that," Dixon tells Metacritic.
Because the audience is "the reason why we have a platform," as Dean points out, the producing team "really studied hard what people had to say about the show," and they took that backlash to heart. That's why, in Season 2, Glaser reassures the men the $100,000 is still in play for them this season.
"Going into a show where people understand the gameplay, we couldn't have used that twist in the same way. And so, this was also a way for us to really raise the stakes," Dean says.
Or at least put the stakes back where the men who auditioned for Season 1 thought they would be.
This time around, there are 26 men vying for that money (or maybe the heart of one of the three women, it depends on who you ask and how cynical you are): 13 are self-proclaimed nice guys and 13 are self-proclaimed fboys. And within that group, two are familiar faces from Season 1: Peter Park, who revealed himself to be an fboy in Season 1 is back, claiming he is reformed, and Casey Johnson, who was an fboy in Season 1 but did a nice guy thing and planned to split the prize money with CJ Franco if she picked him at the end, is now officially claiming the nice guy moniker.
Dean says that the Season 1 twist of denying prize money to an fboy who just wanted to keep it all for himself didn't have as much weight on the audition process for Season 2 as one might think. "The people that I think really believe they're excellent fboys believe that they can outsmart anyway. It was probably the people that doubted themselves more that were more concerned [with], 'Is there a guarantee we go away with something?'" she explains.
However, what did have a heavy influence was the fact that production specifically wanted to bring back Park, Johnson, and even Morosky. They just had to find ways to do it that felt organic and comfortable for the new season.
That meant Morosky, who Dean says is "through and through an fboy" was not in the running to be a love interest again. "I don't think it would have been fair to the to the women to be like, 'Well, deal with this now.'" Dixon notes.
So, instead, Morosky plays the King of Limbro and only pops up on-screen occasionally.
"What's cool about the format of our show is that we have these weird, peripheral spaces where we get to do sketch comedy, and we have these little sub-universes within the primary TV show. If we were making a traditional dating show, you'd really have to force the idea of Garrett coming back," Dixon says. "But to put him in this auxiliary space, and to watch the guys come into Limbo, they're actually discovering him for the first time when they walk into Limbro, and they're so excited."
That's not to say that Park and Johnson didn't draw some excitement of their own. Mia Emani Jones, one of the women looking for love this season, was particularly drawn to Park from well before he was standing in front of her. Familiar with him from Season 1, she admitted to spending many a moment scrolling through his Instagram, which arguably gives him a foot forward in the race to her heart. But that was not something that producers thought was a given, as Dean admits she "didn't have such high hopes for Peter," nothing that she thought he might be out the door after Episode 1.
Johnson, on the other hand, was someone both Dean and Dixon saw longer-term potential for on the show, given how he proved he changed his ways at the end of Season 1 — both on-screen and behind-the-scenes.
"During the Season 1 finale, all the guys like lock in their [decisions off-camera for legal purposes] and then they're waiting around because we're waiting for sunset or finale. And I remember going into his room and he's just lying on the on the mattress, just staring at the ceiling, just entirely despondent. And I was like, 'Oh this guy is in it.' You get to see that once a season: a guy who's just haunted by what's happened," Dixon says.
Even those competing in Season 2 who were not on Season 1 were affected by it, the producers say, and that includes the leads Jones, Louise Barnard, and Tamaris Sepulveda, who really bonded during filming and worked as a team to help each other weed out guys who weren't there for the right reasons.
"When we filmed Season 1, because it was a new show, we revealed much less throughout the process. Now, they have a whole platform that they knew so they came in ready to play that game," Dean says.
This is possibly what led Lukasz Yoder, who came in as an fboy, to come up with the strategy of leaning as far to the other extreme as possible. The concert pianist was homeschooled in his youth and had "quite an isolated upbringing," says Dean, so when he claimed he was a virgin, "it was still rooted in his insecurities and the truth that he had lived up until recently," she adds.
It was a strategy that backfired, though, as he was eliminated early over concerns that he was just not ready for a relationship.
"He dedicated himself to the format of the show in the way that no other cast member has done in the past. It was some real spy sh-- he was doing. Even when the cameras went down, he had invented a whole story of who he was, where he came from, his whole romantic history," Dixon says. "I think Lukasz just planted the seed of of something that's really smart. He wasn't successful, but somebody's going to come in and really figure out, 'He did it, but he did it wrong. Here's how I'm going to play this game.' And it's really interesting to watch these guys try to figure out their own thing."
Mercedes Knox, Dixon continues, "is a good example of somebody who's just operating at a higher level. He really sees the whole board and is operating within that space."
In that spirit, Dean, Dixon, and their production crew wanted to keep things fresh for the at-home audience and keep everyone on the show on their toes. This meant everything adjusting certain production elements, including the kinds of dates provided, during production to introducing a new twist: "having everybody revealed halfway through the season," Dean shares.
Forcing the men to be honest about their fboy or nice guy status allows "the women be able to then refocus," she continues, "think about what this means, who they're connected to who they're not connected to, and then have time to really ask the right questions. We place it in the middle of the season so we are giving them opportunities for dates or one-on-one opportunities. We give them a safe space in which to ask the questions they want to ask, and obviously, it's still ultimately for them to decide, 'Do they believe these people? Do they trust these people?'"
It also means some of the guys may have to do some adjusting of their own. While there may be some who walked into the house as fboys and caught genuine feelings during the process of the show, they will likely have to work harder to prove they're not just looking for a payday.
"We let them know, 'Come in here with some kind of a game plan. You saw Season 1, put something together.' Every guy, the first thing out of their mouth is, 'I'm just gonna get more time with the girls, yo. I'm just gonna be right there. I'm gonna be in their face.' That's a bad plan. If that's all you have, go on 'The Bachelor,'" Dixon says.