Some people consider the TLC reality television show 90 Day Fiancé to be one of the worst shows on TV. Some might even say it’s a lurid display of the many things that are wrong with society, not to mention, it exploits people’s emotional vulnerabilities for ratings.
For some people, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. One couple’s public emotional devastation is another man’s source of entertainment, or so the saying goes.
90 Day Fiancé follows the lives of Americans who meet and fall in love with foreigners. The Americans invite the foreigners to come to America on a K-1 visa, or “fiance visa,” and marry them within 90 days. If they don’t, the foreigner returns to their home country.
Ninety days is too short to really get to know someone enough to marry them. But 90 days is clearly the ideal length of time to force a couple to tie the knot and make a watchable TV show out of these social experiments. If the show’s several seasons and spin-offs are any proof, it makes for great TV.
Marrying someone for money doesn’t work if the person you’re marrying is not moneyed
Season four couple Jorge Nava from California and Anfisa Arkhipchenko from Russia was one of the most prominent couples to come out of the series. Jorge met Anfisa on Facebook, and both were honest about what they wanted out of their relationship; Jorge wanted a trophy wife, while Anfisa wanted someone with money.
No one pegged them to be the ideal match, but stranger pairings have happened throughout the show. The two ended up getting married, but after facing insurmountable obstacles — such as Jorge refusing to buy Anfisa a $10,000 handbag and his facing a prison sentence — their misaligned expectations ultimately tore them apart. They eventually divorced.
Age is just a number — a number that matters a lot if it involves marriage
Molly Hopkins and Luis Mendez are another doomed couple within the 90 Day cinematic universe, and viewers of season five would say that it’s because of their 15-year age gap. But that’s not the only reason. It was also the constant fighting and the emotional and physical abuse.
Details of spousal abuse — whether documented via emails, handwritten notes, or voicemail — can be used in a custody case. Molly and Luis did not have kids, but if they did, TV footage of said abuse could be used in a hypothetical custody case.
A considerable age gap isn’t generally detrimental to making a marriage work. But with cultural differences and a TV crew constantly filming your marital ups and downs thrown in, it eventually took its toll.
Third time’s not a charm
The failed relationship of season six couple American Ashley Martson (30 years old at the time of the show’s broadcast) and Jamaican Jay Smith (20 years old) was not as imminent or obvious as other couples’. Their marriage hung on for dear life until the very end. That is, until the mother of two discovered that the lovely Jamaican boy toy she invited to live with her in Pennsylvania was hitting on women on the dating app Tinder.
Ashley filed for divorce from Jay three times before finally separating in 2021. The first one was filed in January 2019, but she claimed that their first split was faked. Things didn’t appear to have improved post-fake split. In April 2019, she again filed for divorce, but they soon reconciled. Alas, the tumultuous relationship couldn’t keep the two together, and their third and final divorce was filed in December 2020.
Remarrying one’s spouse usually means the end of alimony payments until they decide to divorce again. This does not apply to the season six couple as the paperwork for the first and second attempts to divorce were withdrawn. They only pushed through with the divorce on the third try.
Do you know what else takes 90 days? Finalizing an uncontested divorce in Washington state.
Since the show’s debut in 2014, the couples who’ve paired up because of the show have achieved varying degrees of marital success. Some couples are still married, while others became cautionary tales about why it generally isn’t a good idea to marry someone to satisfy a TV show audience. Did you think that straightforward, conflict-free romances would make for good TV? We didn’t think so.
Family law attorneys Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams are the team to call for a low-conflict, drama-free dissolution of marriage in Washington state. Call our Renton offices at 425-448-6419.