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The Problematic Relationships & Portrayal of Immigration in TLC Hit “90 Day Fiancee”

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As I flipped channels to land on 90 Day Fiancee for some cheap, reality TV entertainment I soon realized based off of my own thoughts and my family’s thoughts how awful the show really is.

Eric & Leida

This season shows a woman named Leida from Indonesia, who yells at her fiancee Eric over how he pays child support for his three daughters. He explains that if he refuses, he loses parental rights to the children and she believes her and her son from her previous marriage should be his first priority. They also bicker about how she wants an extravagant venue, floral arrangements, and wedding dress. Similar to what she had in her first wedding in Indonesia. As a viewer, Leida is extremely easy to dislike – seeing as though she has seemingly no respect for her soon to be husband’s other children and believes that he should be put on the back burner despite her too being a parent. She’s also painted to be very materialistic in regards to the wedding planning and home decor (like, she wants an over the top wedding and also brand new furniture).

Colt & Larissa

Then there’s Colt and Larissa. Larissa is from Brazil and from the episode I watched, she hates the fact that Colt’s mother is staying with him and she feels like she controls her and Colt too much. She goes wedding dress shopping with her and Colt’s mom explains to her that money is tight, and she can’t have a $2,000+ wedding dress and a thousand dollar green card. Larissa basically responds in a child-like manner, not able to comprehend why she can’t have both and why her mother-in-law is controlling her and Colt. She also had a similar reaction to Colt not purchasing the couch she wanted. Before these incidents, Colt took her and his mom out to eat at a high-end Brazilian restaurant because Larissa was missing her home country’s foods – an understandable thing to miss. People often times feel homesick when they’re eating a meal in a different location far from home when they’d rather be eating something their mom made them, or food from the local diner down the street from their house. So in this moment, it was possible and easy to sympathize with what Larissa wanted. But again, she failed to recognize that it was expensive and luxurious, and instead reveals that she wants to have all of their wedding guests there for dinner after the ceremony. Which would mean booking the entire restaurant, and paying for everyone’s meals, appetizers, desserts, and potentially even beverages. Colt explains it’s not a feasible wedding plan due to their budget, and she looks disappointed and reminds Colt and his mother of her disappointment in Colt’s lack of wedding planning initiative throughout the rest of the meal.

Asuelu & Kalani

Another couple, Kalani and Asuelu (from Samoa) had a baby, and Asuelu blatanly stated that what drew him to an American woman was that she was in a place of opportunity, and that Americans are rich. Alongside with this comment that he made to his sister, he also hasn’t been parenting appropriately and despite Kalani being uncertain about the marriage, her religious background and child urge her to work through these red flags.

What’s unfortunate about this show is the hatred we have for immigrants in this country is already so prominent. They get told to go back to where they came from when they don’t speak English (one of the hardest languages to learn), everyone assumes they’re here to “steal jobs” (that Americans don’t even want), and when they are here because of someone they love, the American gets told their significant other is going to leave them once they get their green card and spousal support post-divorce.

Through my lifetime, every immigrant I’ve met who has an American spouse worked to receive citizenship in their own way. Without using any form of a marriage visa.

They did this to give their husband or wife (and their in-laws) peace of mind that they weren’t in it for the green card or money. And in most cases I’ve seen in real life, the American pursues the person who isn’t from America. While obviously not every case in immigration and marriage is going to be perfect, it’s also unfair to paint all immigrants with an American partner as gold-digging liars. Regardless of national origin, people use people. There’s no difference in a person using someone for money when it’s two Americans versus an American and a Brazilian.

The problem with a lot of the relationships also is how the Americans (specifically the older, American men) portray themselves and their lifestyles to the women they intend on marrying or bringing to the U.S.. They don’t know their true financial situation all the time, or the man has boasted about his wealth. So I’d imagine that would be a shock to see his roommate is his mother, or most of his paycheck goes towards his ex-wife. While they shouldn’t be ridiculed over it by somebody, they should also be honest with their partner before she chooses to uproot her life and go to a new country for a seemingly better lifestyle with a man she may or may not be in love with. Either way, regardless of their true feelings for each other, it does seem like both parties are almost always guilty of lying about something. 

Another thing the show and viewers at time seem to forget or acknowledge is that no human or couple will be in a pre-honeymoon stage when they just had a baby and/or are being rushed into getting married within 90 days or less. In fact, making the marriage visa only last 90 days before it expires seems to be setting the couple up for failure. Because they have no way of saving for their dream wedding, or saving for a place to live, or redecorating their apartment together, or meeting each other’s families and working out any potential family drama. All of the things couples have years and years to do is condensed into 90 days for two people to handle. To me, that’s a lot of pressure that I know would put fractures in even the strongest and most loving of relationships.

I could personally never imagine meeting my partner’s family one month and marrying them the next and planning a wedding in less than 90 days knowing my family won’t be attending. I couldn’t imagine it all being filmed, judged, and ridiculed as my partner or I received death threats (which has happened to multiple pairs this season) when we’re just trying to get through our transition as a couple that lives together, as well as becoming acquainted with a new country. Hardly anything in regards to immigration is fair, and this is one example of that. Squishing all of these major events into 90 days seems like it’s meant to weaken the relationship rather than strengthen and encourage it; and while trash reality TV is fun to watch, 90 Day Fiancee seems to reaffirm the stereotypes that Americans have on immigration and marrying someone who’s not from the U.S.. It’s the last thing I think needs to be televised right now, and if it must be, at least throw in some happy couples rather than displaying every single one of the non-Americans as the villain.