TV Review: 90 Day Fiance Returns In Addictive Form

I will always carry a special place in my heart to TLC, the network now known only as an acronym. TLC brought the design show Trading Spaces into my living room, and with it my unrequited crush on Genevieve Gorder, along with empowering me to believe I too could make entire pillows on a shoestring budget (I never tried). I never thought the network could get its claws into me again.

Enter 90 Day Fiancé. For the uninitiated, 90 Day Fiancé is TLC’s hit romance “docu”-series that follows couples who are engaged, one living in America and the other abroad. These couples apply for a K1 visa, which allows them to reunite in the US, but with a catch: a 90 day deadline. If the couple doesn’t marry in 90 days, the international party must leave the country.

Forget your Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Forget your Sex Sent Me To The ER (ok, maybe keep this one, cause who do these people think they are: porn stars?). Nope, 90 Day Fiancé is where it’s at, folks. The show where people, who got engaged after knowing another person for 5 days over the web or a quick international visit, look into the camera and say things like “I don’t think it’s enough time to really get to know someone in ninety days” without a hint of irony.

The premiere episode introduces us to four of the six couples that will comprise the second season, and I can tell you it already looks like a far better cast than the inaugural season:

The one to watch so far is Chelsea and Yamir. Chelsea, 25, hails from suburban Illinois and met Yamir, 28, while on a work trip to Nicaragua. Yamir is a third of the Nicaraguan boy band, Myla Vox, and the two locked eyes at his concert, seemingly like a moment ripped from a movie. Yamir’s English is so-so, and his departure to the States means a questionable future for his band, something their mastermind Gabriel is definitely worried about, especially since he’s worked to create the idea of a celebrity culture in their home country. Gabriel works hard to paint Chelsea with the “Yoko” brush, writing her a letter and breaking into tears, but it’s worth noting that a quick Google search reveals the manager to have an acting degree and a long performing history. I’m not saying he’s pretending, in fact, he has a point about dropping the Nicaraguan “Justin Timberlake” into a suburb in the Midwest. But it’s worth knowing Gabriel seems like a Colonel Tom type figure. Whatever way it goes, I think we can safely say 90 Day Fiancé will be a publicity boost for the band. Still, this is the sweetest couple and the one that has easy odds on getting married. They’re attractive, and cute together, and they seem to have their feet on the ground more than the rest this hour.

90 Day Fiancé drums up much drama over the idea of whether or not these people are coming to the country just for the visa. If there was one couple this hour that raises those red flags, it would have to be Danielle and Mohammad. Danielle, 41, is from Ohio and met Mohammad, 26, while in an international chat room. So, already there’s a fifteen year age difference, but wait…Danielle also has three teenage daughters. When Danielle breaks into tears when she cannot get a hold of Mohammad who should be in America, her daughters show far more maturity while their mom barely keeps it together. This is also where the strange and manipulative editing TLC employs overwhelms the narrative. There’s a lot of emotional buildup over the search for Mohammad that just fizzles out, leaving only the insecurities of Danielle on full display.

If you need a couple to laugh and yell at, then let me give you Justin and Evelin. Justin, 34, refers to himself as a typical bachelor, and it’s not hard to see why he’s single and looking overseas for a woman. There’s piles of dirty dishes in the sink and he just tosses his laundry onto the floor in close proximity to the washer. He’s a PE teacher in California who is given the opportunity to show us what he’s all about, which is sports, beer, and sex. He met Evelin when he traveled from California to Columbia for the World Cup, standing in line for a hot dog. Seriously, this situation is one Zack Galifianakis away from being a raunchy comedy. Evelin seems very sweet and into him, despite his description of their relationship as “really special,” and exclamations about how she makes him horny and “let’s get naked!” Her first morning, Evelin the cleaning while he heads to the couch to watch the game. And there’s the little issue that Justin has told no one about her. I’m suspicious this is a joke when he takes her on a tour, pointing out the washer, dryer, vacuum, etc.

Finally, there’s Brett, from Washington, who’s roommate calls a “pushover.” Brett, 31, went looking for love after his divorce specifically to the Philippines because of their “good marriage values,” so you know the guy has been through some real crap, but he has a real cute 6 year old daughter. He found Daya, 29, and after 11 days together, proposed. Brett’s definitely in need of some backbone in his life, when even the florist seems to push him around. Our first encounter with Daya is pretty negative with her spoiled reaction to the flowers, and her direction to grab her bags, but maybe that’s just editing again. Brett’s still kind of goofy, unable to speak unless he’s just giggling uncontrollably. He’s a sweet guy, so it’ll be interesting to see how their story develops.

And that’s the premiere! There’s still two more couples to be introduced, which bodes well since the first season fell into a rut and hit the same emotional beats over and over. 90 Day Fiancé did a great job of mixing things up this season, including some couples where the female is the American and finds love in another country. I have to continually keep in mind the idea of what these folks are potentially giving up when they come here, and the level of culture shock. It’s easy to discount because they chose to have a camera constantly in their faces, but not many people could resist the allure of celebrity, even if it’s a short lived one on a reality show.

TLC begins the new 90 Day Fiancé season Sunday, October 19 at 7pm Central, with a special, checking in with three of last season’s couples. Then at 8, the new season begins! I had a great time recapping and reviewing these last season, and I’m ready again! Let us know what you’re looking forward to with this new season, then head back here Sunday night and sound off after the premiere!

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