90 Day Fiancé is a TV show about foreigners who travel to the United States to stay with their long-distance partners for 90 days on a K-1 visa. While that is an oversimplification of the dramatic plot of the reality show, there is so much that fans don’t know about the series.
From some of the “real-life” scenes being scripted to the iconic title almost being something else, here are some little-known facts about TLC’s 90 Day Fiancé.
Each Participant Goes Through A Background Check
Anyone who wants to participate on 90 Day Fiancé must go through a mandatory background check first. The participating United States citizens are sponsoring people on K-1 visas, after all.
Everything needs to check out, such as former criminal behavior. Even after the background check goes through, each participant is subjected to follow-up questions if something looks suspicious. Not only that, but the producers might ask people for court documents and even character reference letters from family and friends.
The Couples Have Known Each Other Before The Show
While fans enjoy the drama of people meeting for the first time on a reality show and potentially getting married within 90 days, the fact of the matter is the couples aren’t put together by casting directors. In fact, they’ve known each other long before the cameras begin to roll and have already decided to give marriage a shot.
During an interview with Deadline, producer Matt Sharp said, “We don’t put people together. Everyone we feature on the show, they found themselves organically.”
Participants Are Responsible For Their Own Visas
The TLC show might be all about following couples as they apply for a K-1 visa and see how they actually work as a couple while living in the same country, but that doesn’t mean they have help obtaining the visa. In fact, TLC doesn’t help participants with the immigration process at all.
For anyone planning on signing up for the show, keep in mind that getting an approved K-1 visa falls on the shoulders of the contestants. And it isn’t the easiest process in the world.
Couples Have No Say In How They’re Portrayed
When it comes to reality shows or anything that requires a signed contract, it’s very important to read the fine print. On 90 Day Fiancé, a stipulation in the contract tells participants that they’re not allowed to sue the network or producers over how they portray the couple on screen.
Whether that means making them out to be the “no so likable” couple or the people who have way too much drama on their plates, even if it’s not true, the participants have no say on how they are depicted in the series.
TLC “Wants” People With Questionable Backgrounds
TLC requires all 90 Day Fiancé participants to go through a background check. But that doesn’t mean they’re looking for squeaky-clean records. The network actually likes when there are some people with questionable backgrounds. It makes for good and dramatic television!
Even during their time on the show, some of the cast members have been arrested for various reasons, making them better suited to be on the cast of The Orange Is the New Black than 90 Day Fiancé!
The Reality Show Has Some Scripted Lines
As it goes with most reality shows, the “actors” are given some lines and are pushed in certain directions. Pretty much, it’s not as realistic as fans would hope. That being said, the people on the show aren’t necessarily given a script, more like a general idea of where a conversation should go.
During an interview, Nikki Cooper, one of the stars of the series, said, “there are times where there are different people or producers that come up to you and say, ‘Oh, I think it would be cool if you do this,’ or ‘I think you should say this.'”
Only The US Citizens Get Paid (And It’s A Small Amount)
Signing on to 90 Day Fiancé is a huge commitment, one that takes up a lot of time. Because of this, TLC gives contestants a small stipend for allowing cameras to follow them around day in and day out. Unfortunately, that stipend is pretty much nothing, especially since it only goes to United States citizens and not those on a K-1 visa.
Due to legal reasons, only US citizens are given the $1,000/episode paycheck, a measly sum that they can then split with their partner.
Bachelor Wars: Russia Was Almost Pitched To A Men’s Network
Fans might recognize the TLC reality show as 90 Day Fiancé, but the series wasn’t originally pitched with that title. In fact, it was something totally different. Not to mention it was created for a “catered to men” network.
According to 90 Day Fiancé producer Matt Sharp, the creators originally wanted to call the series Bachelor Wars: Russia. The title was a lot less dramatic and wasn’t well received. It took Sharp a few years, and, finally, TLC snagged the idea. The rest is history.
Reality Shows Are in Some Cast Members’ Blood
A majority of the 90 Day Fiancé cast has only been on the sole reality show, but not all of them. There have been some castmates who call the TLC series their second reality show appearance. One such 90 Day participant is Molly Hopkins.
For two seasons, Molly appeared on the Lifetime series Double Divas, a show about her and her best friend, Cynthia Decker, owning an Atlanta-based boutique called LiviRae Lingerie. In the series, Molly acted as a “therapist” to their clients.
There’s A Strange Sitting Rule
During some of the confessionals, fans might have noticed the women cast members sitting in odd positions, namely, with their knees up. It’s almost as if the couch they’re sitting on is actually located on the floor, and they have no choice but to hug their legs to their chest.
As it turns out, they don’t really have a choice in the matter. According to a few of the 90 Day Fiance participants, the women are asked to sit in that uncomfortable position while being interviewed.
Some Of The Promo Shots Are Staged
Not only are some of the lines scripted, but some of the promotional cuts seen in TLC commercials aren’t real. One example is Alla Fedoruk’s infamous chair-throwing incident. According to the cast member, producers told her to throw the chair for the season’s promo.
The thing is, they never had a story attached to the action. So while the scene was in the promotional material, fans never actually saw Alla throw a chair during the actual episode. So much for the drama!
Couples Have Tried To Raise Money For Their K-1 Visa
It’s no secret that the K-1 visa application isn’t a cheap process. It cost a pretty penny, sometimes way more than the 90 Day Fiancé participants are able to spend in one fell swoop. That’s why some of the participants have gone to various sites such as GoFundMe.com to ask for donations.
Rachel and Jon actually had such an account, asking fans to help them with the application cost since it was an “absurd amount of money.” They took it down not long after posting it on the website.
Citizenship Isn’t As Simple As Saying, “I Do”
Watching 90 Day Fiancé, it’s easy to assume that the non-American half of the couples are granted citizenship directly after saying “I do.” It’s not that simple. The series doesn’t illustrate the long and tiresome process people have to go through after the cameras stop running.
Even with a K-1 visa and a marriage certificate, the road to American citizenship is long. There is a whole lot of paperwork the couples have to go through, not to mention extensive in-person interviews.
There Was An Online Petition Against A Participant
Not every participant on 90 Day Fiancé was popular with viewers. In fact, Nicole Nafziger was hated to the point of fans beginning and signing a Change.org petition to get her removed from the show. They believed Nicole’s treatment of her fiancé was unacceptable and not appropriate for TLC.
Fans didn’t want to see aggressive behavior toward someone who is supposed to be a partner in life normalized. So, they tried their hardest to get Nicole removed from her season.
Friends And Family Aren’t Paid To Be On The Show
Considering the actual participants on 90 Day Fiancé hardly see any money for their time and energy on the show, it might come as little surprise to learn that friends and family featured on the show don’t receive anything. According to cast member Nikki Cooper, her friends and family received no compensation.
That’s horrible for people who take time out of their day to get filmed but great for the network, which is getting free intel on their core group of cast members.
Season One Was The Season Of Power Couples
Starring on a reality series isn’t necessarily the perfect start to a long-lasting relationship. But the season one participants of 90 Day Fiancé proved that stereotype incorrect! While many of the series’ members have gone their separate ways for a slew of reasons, the couples from season one have put their love to the test.
As of 2021, each couple from the first season is still together and going strong! Some of them are even adding to their families!
There Have Been Multiple Spin-Offs
TLC jumped at the opportunity to capitalize off 90 Day Fiancé‘s popularity and success. Over the years, a solid number of spin-off series have been created under the 90 Day Fiancé umbrella, utilizing couples from the original show.
Some of the spin-offs include, Happily Ever After?, Before the 90 Days, What Now?, Pillow Talk, 90 Day Fiancé: Self-Quarantined, and The Other Way. Some of the more popular couples have even earned their own spin-off, including Chantel and Pedro’s story in The Family Chantel.
What’s In A (Fake) Name?
Lines and promo shots aren’t the only fake aspects of 90 Day Fiancé. Some of the participants don’t even use their real names on the show! Well, at least according to Reddit conspiracy theorists who claim Chantel and Jorge use stage names.
Chantel’s real name is reportedly SeaAir, while Jorge’s real name is thought to be Andrew. Some people claim it was a matter of anonymity, while others believe TLC asked them to change their name for the series. Others believe SeaAir was just too unique, and Chantel wanted something a bit more normal.
TLC Outed Mohamed Jbali Over A Tweet
While participants of 90 Day Fiancé are amazing at delivering the perfect amount of drama both onscreen and in their personal lives, they’re not the only ones. The network that airs the show, TLC, spilled some major tea over Twitter regarding one of the cast members, Mohamed Jbali.
After a 90 Day Fiancé: Happily, Ever After special, TLC outed Jbali over Twitter, posting that he asked producers for Anfisa’s telephone number. The drama? At the time, he was still seeing Danielle Mullins.
Some Couples Met In Questionable Ways
One of the stipulations for appearing on 90 Day Fiancé is that the couples aren’t strangers. They’ve been in contact for quite some time and have discussed marriage. That doesn’t mean that their original meetings were totally normal. Some were actually quite morally questionable.
According to some sources, participants David Vázquez Zermeño and Evelyn Cormier were flirting over social media when she was no more than 15 years old. That would have been fine, aside from the fact that David was 24 at the time.