Usually during the 90 Day Fiancé reality franchise, the big challenges involve long-distance couples’ legal struggles to get K1-visas and plan a wedding simultaneously. They have just 90 days following their declaration to wed while applying for a visa for the partner who was born outside of the US. No visa or no wedding, and one of them has to leave the country. There are also series that follow them after the wedding (90 Day Fiancé, Happily Ever After?), or look at their lives before they even start the visa process (Before The 90 Days).
But with the world in lockdown and nobody flying anywhere, things are looking a little different in the 90 Day Fiancé experience this month. The five-episode limited-edition series 90 Day Fiancé: Self Quarantined will show fans what (and how) 40 of the series’ stars have been doing while self-isolating and social distancing.
The big production
As in South Africa, in the US production and film crews were not allowed to work (at least until 1 May in South Africa) during the COVID-19 pandemic as they are considered non-essential businesses. So to make this new series, production reached out to make contact with fan favourites who’ve been on the show throughout its various seasons. And since late March, the stars themselves have taken up their phones and web cameras to capture footage, while the production teams have conducted remote interviews and given them guidelines on what to film.
For couples who are already used to long-distance love and communication, it was a perfect fit. “Our crew is not near them physically at all. They will be helping them remotely,” says Howard Lee, President and General Manager of 90 Day Fiancé’s mothership, the TLC channel in the US, as production began on the show. But he warns that production values have suffered just a bit. “I think our audience is incredibly forgiving right now, and I’m hoping that they accept the way it looks. It will be messy!”
Howard adds, “So many fans have been curious about how their favourite couples and individuals are holding up during the crisis, so we’ve asked them to self-film and share their lives in quarantine with all of us. Their stories hold a lens to the world, from anxiety and cabin fever, to laughter and inspiration.” It’s all in the name of love.
Insider point of view
One of the fan favourite we’ll see is Danielle Jabi (from S2 of 90 Day Fiancé). Aside from the thrill of finding out, for example, that Danielle has actually been chatting to her (very) ex-husband Mohamed the Tunisian following their nasty break-up, we’ll get a closer look at what lockdown has really been like for her and how COVID-19 is affecting her life. Danielle works in direct contact with developmentally challenged clients and lives in fear of accidentally catching the virus and passing it on to the vulnerable group home that she is working in.
But for one other couple, the show exposes something part-way between a hostage drama and a sitcom. Cortney from Before The 90 Days S1 And 90 Day Fiancé What Now? S1 (who went on to dump Spanish boyfriend Antonio) is stuck in a house belonging to her new German “friend”, Andy, after a business trip stranded them together in quarantine. He runs a menstrual cup business, she was his brand ambassador, and yes, it actually can get more awkward! “Andy calls me his girlfriend and thinks we’re in a relationship, talks about marriage or the future and stuff. I’m just like ehhh,” Cortney tells her camera. And when the two fight (which they do, a lot), Andy insists on turning off the camera. Imagine what else we’d be missing without this series!
Say hello to…
TLC has a full list here, but among the stars who’ll be taking us inside their lives in lockdown are:
- Alan (Utah) and Kirlyam (Brazil) from 90 Day Fiancé, What Now? S1
- Anna (Nebraska) and Mursel (Turkey) from 90 Day Fiancé S7
- Benjamin (Arizona) and Akinyi (Kenya) from BeforeThe 90 Days S1
- Brett (Washington) and Daya (Philippines) from 90 Day Fiancé S2
- Chantel (Atlanta) and Pedro (Dominican Republic) from 90 Day Fiancé,Happily Ever After? S1 and The Family Chantel S1
- Narkyia (Pennsylvania) and Lowo (Nigeria) from 90 Day Fiancé S4
- And Tiffany (Maryland) and Ronald (South Africa) from :90 Day Fiancé The Other Way S1 (the series in which someone from the US is looking toemigrate for love). We’re especially keen to see what’s up between Tiffany and Ronald since they announced their break-up on social media in January this year, but another post from mid March shows them back together in South Africa, so they could be stranded together.
90 Day Fiancé: Self Quarantined S1 starts on Tuesday, 5 May on TLC (135) at 20:00