90 Day Fiancé is the Weirdest Show on Television
“If this visa is approved tomorrow, I’m going to be right in your bed giving you the ‘D’ every day.”
And with that statement, season six of 90 Day Fiancé begins. It’s a reality show that expertly balances serious, life-altering complexities (marriage, immigration, and the paperwork required for both) and the pure simplicity of romance (fights about meeting the family, jealousy, and the D).
It’s the weirdest show on television. If you’re not watching, you should be.
I’ve been a #90DayFiancé stan since the beginning, but if you’re unfamiliar, here’s the premise: Each season of the show follows a handful of couples on a journey to the altar — one person from each pair is a U.S. citizen, and one is not. The action of the show begins after the acquisition of a K-1 visa, which the U.S. state department says “permits the foreign-citizen fiance to travel to the United States and marry his or her U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival.”
To put it simply: When someone meets their future spouse abroad, they have to apply for a K-1 visa before they get married. Once the visa is approved and the foreign fiance travels to the United States, they have 90 days to marry before the visa expires.
As with many of the other seasons, most of the American cast of 90 Day Fiancé season six hail from cities you’ve proably never heard of — Mechanicsburg, PA; Lumberton, NC; Baraboo, WI. Their search for love abroad is, more often than not, driven by loneliness. Colt, a 33-year-old software engineer, lives with his mom and three cats; Baby Girl, Cookie Dough, and Sugar. During his introduction, Colt explains that his mom drives him to work, and that he “spends most of his free time alone.” He went online in search of a partner and found Larissa, a bombshell-type from Brazil, whom he describes as “the most beautiful girl [he’s] ever seen.” Somehow, it doesn’t feel like an exaggeration.
Another cast member, Ashley, is a 31-year-old single mother of two and a bartender. She tells the camera that all of her former partners cheated on her, leaving her cynical about love. Then, she took a vacation to Jamaica and met Jay, a 20-year-old she describes as “extremely mature,” — never mind the fact that Jay describes himself as, well, a hoe. The pair got engaged after her second trip to Jamaica, and now he’s moving to the United States to be with her.
This apparent mismatch is all part of the fun — 90 Day Fiancé relies on almost exclusively odd couples to make the show as bizarre as humanly possible. 29-year-old Kalani met 23-year-old Asuelu on vacation in Samoa. She was a Mormon virgin — he impregnated her and now he’s moving from his tiny fishing village in Samoa to Kalani’s home in Southern California.
43-year-old divorced father of three Eric is a former Marine, who says that at a low point after his divorce, he was “thinking about finding my way to Turkey or Syria to fight ISIS.” Instead, he went online and found Leida, a seemingly wealthy, young single mom from Jakarta who, for some reason, seems OK with moving to suburban Wisconsin.
And then there’s Jonathan, a 32-year-old real estate broker who describes his lifestyle as “gym, work, play, repeat.” He’s engaged to 19-year-old Fernanda. We don’t hear much from Fernanda until the second half of the episode (and then we hear a whole bunch), but Jonathan describes her as a “fiery Latina,” saying, “there isn’t one thing on her body that I don’t like.” According to him, his “biggest fear” is that the breast implants he bought Fernanda will be botched. “I don’t want them going like antennas, left and right,” he says — a surprising main concern from a grown man who is moving a teenager from another country and into his home.
The thing is, it’s easy to sit back on your couch and judge — 90 Day Fiance has a vast social media following of people who do just that — there are countless 90 Day Fiancé fan accounts, a wildly robust 90 Day Fiancé subreddit, and even an Instagram page dedicated to show gossip and theories about the couples, @90DayFiancéTea. With regards to some of the American men on the show, the ones who both objectify and exoticize their foreign brides, I have no problem joining in the judgment. When it comes to the other common criticisms, though, I take less of an issue. Sure, Larissa might be using Colt for money or a green card — but still, their relationship seems mutually beneficial. Kalani might end up bankrolling Asuelu when he makes the move to the states, but she’ll also get to be with the father of her child.
As 90 Day Fiancé season six unfolds, we’ll likely see what we’ve seen in the five previous seasons: The fiancés will come to the United States and move in with their respective partners, friends and family will voice their objections to the unions and cause hella drama. If all goes according to plan, we’ll see the couples organize a wedding, for better or for worse, and there will be at least five awkward family dinners. Sure, watching their stories play out on screen can feel like a nightmarish reminder of what not to do when you’re trying to find love, but in general, I can’t begrudge these people the love they seek. Through it all, there’s something pure about these couples and the love they so desperately cling to — transactional, transnational, and odder than any relationship you’ve ever had.