The new season of 90 Day Fiancé premiered on TLC on Easter Sunday, and needless to say, it was just as messy as seasons past.
Longtime fans of the show, however, were quick to note that this season’s couples — who came from a much wider variety of backgrounds than previous seasons’ couples — seemed much more genuine than they had been in Before the 90 Days. At the very least, these couples actually seemed to like one another.
But that doesn’t mean that shenanigans didn’t abound. Miona Bell — a native of Serbia — was noted by some 90 Day Fiancé fans as engaging in “blackfishing,” which is when white people — especially public figures — do everything in their power to appear Black.
Blackfishing accusations aside, this season of 90 Day Fiancé is definitely looking like a barn-burner.
Shadow & Act had a chance to sit down with two of the couples from the show — Emily and Kobe, and Bilal and Shaeeda — to get an exclusive inside look at what we can expect from this season of the show.
And what they said just might surprise you.
Editorial note: Portions of these interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.
Despite what you see on '90 Day Fiancé,' the K-1 visa process isn't as easy as it looks
The couples on 90 Day Fiancé seem to go through a relatively simple process to get their international loved ones to the United States on a K-1 visa (colloquially known by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service as the ’90 Day Fiancé’ visa, hence the show’s namesake). But according to both couples, the process is nowhere near as simple as it looks on television.
“People think the K1 visa process is just some paperwork and an interview,” Emily — a native of Kansas — exclusively told Shadow & Act. “Unfortunately, that’s not how it is. It’s such a long and anxious process. It can take months just to receive anything back. During our visa process, Covid hit, and it took us 2 years. It’s not an easy process.”
Shaeeda, who came to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago, agrees. “The K1 process is long and can become overbearing and intolerable,” she said. “You need to show receipts of your relationship, hence why you need to be 100 committed.”
Going on reality TV isn't easy, either
There certainly has been no shortage of former 90 Day Fiancé cast members who have pursued fame and fortune after their time on the show is over. (Stephanie Matto, who was on 90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way and currently stars on The Single Life, is the most obvious, and obnoxious, example.)
But many of the couples on the show don’t hope to become the next Twitter trending topic or purveyors of fetid flatulence. Rather, they go on the show hoping that people will understand their unique scenarios better — even when it’s not easy to bare one’s soul on national television.
“Putting your life and your family in the limelight has its positives but definitely negatives too,” said Bilal. “I felt like it was a good opportunity to not just tell my story but the story of many people who look like me. Two Black people coming together from the African Diaspora who are Muslims…something that has never been seen on 90 Day Fiancé history. I’m both excited and nervous about what’s to come, including the opinions of others.”
Contrary to what you might believe, the couples on the show are genuine
On the last season of 90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days, wayward pastor Ben Rathbun was frequently called out by fans of the show for what they thought was his “fake” relationship with aspiring influencer Mahogany Roca. And while, certainly, there were plenty of questions to be had about that relationship — and others — the couples on this season of the flagship show are all genuine.
“We hope people really understand we are real genuine people who truly love each other,” said Emily.
“Love and trust can come from somewhere you never intended for it to come from,” agreed Bilal. “Who is to say that the person who you are meant to be with has to live in the same city or same state or even the same country as you? The person you meant to be with just might live in another country and some magnetic force may pull you both together.”
Above all else, they hope '90 Day Fiancé' fans know they have a life planned outside of the show
When the cameras are turned off, these 90 Day Fiancé couples have dreams and aspirations that go above and beyond being a part of the hit TLC series…something that Shaeeda hopes the fans understand.
“I am a regular person who is vulnerable at times; you see me cry, laugh, argue, agree, or feel joyful like a regular person on the show,” she said. “Hopefully it’s in the cards to be a mother, as I love children so much. If not, then I’ll continue being the most bendy, flexible yogi who inspire[s] people that it is never too late to pursue your dreams.”