W TV Club: The Real-Life, Fascinating Horrors of 90-Day Fiancé

Assistant to the editor in chief Julia McClatchy details the drama and ghastliness of TLC’s 90-Day Fiancé—a reality show so real that it keeps her rapt.

Brittany and Yazan on the second season of 90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way.
Brittany and Yazan from 90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way Season 2. Courtesy of TLC.

Welcome to the W TV Club, a spin-off series of W Movie Club, in which W magazine’s editors pick a season of a television show they’d recommend you binge-watch while in quarantine. This week, assistant to the editor in chief Julia McClatchy details the drama and ghastliness of TLC’s 90-Day Fiancé—a reality show so real that it keeps her rapt.

Frankly, the producers of “90-Day Fiancé” struck gold with this series, which follows couples from different countries who have only 90 days to wed on a K-1 visa—authorizing the foreign fiancés of American citizens to travel to the United States. The couple must marry within this window, or the fiancé visiting the U.S. is forced to return to their home country. Each new season of “90-Day” showcases four new couples whose journeys together are outrageously entertaining, often questionable, and somehow, packed with love.

I’m not sure what aspect is more compelling: witnessing two people fall in love while overcoming cultural differences or watching these “relationships” crumble as true motives are revealed. Either way, I cannot look away and keep coming back for more.

Take season three’s “Sexy Alexei” and Loren Brovarnik, for example, two 27-year-olds who met during Loren’s Birthright trip to Israel. Following Alexei’s approval for a K-1 visa and his arrival to the States, his and Loren’s love is put to the test as the relationship is scrutinized by Loren’s family; the weight of being without his family increases for Alexei, and the two recognize differences in their cultural values. With the 90-day deadline looming, you can’t help but root for these two, and hope that their love proves to be more than just a visa. It’s drama so good, you couldn’t make it up for a soap opera.

On the other hand, Mark and Nikki Shoemaker’s relationship in that season is a totally different story. It could be considered more of a 90-day train wreck. Mark, 58, meets Nikki, 19, during a vacation to the Philippines. Although this may sound like an uncommon love story to some, viewers quickly learn this might not be the case for Mark, after his daughter—who is in her 20s—expresses skepticism of their relationship, and of Nikki’s age. This relationship and its kooky story lives rent-free in my nightmares.

Whatever your mood, “90-Day Fiancé” will provide you with a range of emotions and unlimited shock value. You can stream the whole series and its various spin-offs on Hulu. The only guaranteed “I do” is that you’ll want to watch another episode.

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