The women of 90 Day Fiancé state it simply for the men: Shut the door, bring me flowers, clean up your sh*t.
|Nov 8||Public post|
Entering into each new 90 Day Fiancé installment is like walking into a TJ Maxx: you know there could be some good stuff in there, but you have no idea how long it will take to find it, and that there's a high probability you’ll encounter something icky in the dressing room along the way (spoiler alert: the something icky is courtesy of Colt's cats). But in the end, it is always worth it.
Any given episode of 90 Day Fiancé could be an hour long; it could be two hours spread over two nights; sometimes it's two hours in one night; and sometimes I have to take a hydration break in the middle because Jay's constant self-(dick)-worship/self-owning has made me do so many spit-takes…
TLC's 90 Day Fiancé installments are released into the television landscape with the wild abandon of a network that knows it surpassed the point of judgment somewhere around the 12th baby-born-inside-a-toilet reenactment, and the confidence that we trash-gremlins will simply take whatever it gives us. And in this second 90-DF unit (a measurement I'm working on presenting to Science), it gave us two hours' worth of homegrown, Grade-A, corn-fed, good old fashioned American disillusionment.
We meet Leida's amazing sister Reina who comes along to the U.S. to meet Eric and "see where he lives," so he takes them to a rented cabin that is 12 times nicer than his actual home and they're still disappointed. We meet Asuelu, who has been described solely as a cheater and an absentee father, but turns out to be a Moana Muppet Baby, and perhaps it's actually Kalani's “American dream but only for us” family that's the problem. And we met some babies-having babies who also happen to dabble in maternity photography in the form of new couple, Steven-and-Olga:
And then, of course, there's Colt, who we already know and fear. If Colt is faking this less-hot Norman Bates act, I truly do not care because I just want to watch him do it forever from in between my fingers. But…
It's hard to believe that any 32-year-old man who has never moved out of his mother's house would not at least be aware of the pop culture icons who came before him, and have some familiarity with the very famous line from Alfred Hitchcock's very famous Psycho: "A boy's best friend is his mother."
And yet he gave not even a trace of joking or self-awareness when he delivered this line. He truly believes that all boys are best friends with their mothers, and Larissa truly believed that maybe being Colt’s fiance wouldn’t be so bad once she just got to America. And you were right Larissa—it’s worse!
Now, Larissa's shock upon arrival at finding Las Vegas to be a sweaty, dusty nightmare city that contains her sweaty, dusty nightmare fiancé is due much in part to Colt continuing to say that he's worried about Larissa having lavish expectations of America, while consistently and constantly doing nothing to correct her misconceptions before she comes to America to marry him…
And at such a frequently discouraging time to be living in America, as it sometimes feels like our democracy is turning into Alex Mack goo before our very eyes, and sometimes feeling helpless to stop it, I'll admit: there was a certain masochistic thrill to seeing all of these beautiful foreign women come in and be so disgustingly disappointed by America and their American fiancés contained within.
BUT! I cannot let Larissa completely off the hook for arriving in Las Vegas and acting shocked by the desert climate.
In terms of day-to-day logistics in the country where I live, I am a person who will walk out the door to spend 12 hours outside without even glancing at the weather and holding eight magazines in my purse, but not a single umbrella. But you better believe if I'm going to another country, I've been monitoring the 10-day forecast for weeks, took a light online course in meteorology just to be sure I'm understanding everything correctly, and will still kick myself for not doing enough research if it unexpectedly drizzles one day.
That Larissa doesn't know what the weather will be like in Las Vegas is irresponsible; that Colt doesn't have air conditioning in his car is the final proof we need that he is a monster who has let his cat lick something off his toes, and will let his cat lick something off his toes again. Let's check in with our other favorite ghouls:
ERIC & LEIDA
We first spot Eric driving 15 hours from Wisconsin to New York to pick Leida up at JFK airport for her arrival in the States. This quickly presents a series of questions, like: why is Leida flying into New York instead of Wisconsin, and why is Eric driving there to pick her up, and does that mean one of Leida's first experiences with Eric will be smelling his farts for 15 hours while they drive back to Wisconsin, mind you, with her five-year-old son in tow.
Eric quickly answers all these questions and more with a series of half-truths so thin you could you couldn't even legally call them flatbreads — these are just crackers, bitch.
Colt might make you want to put cotton balls in every sensing orifice of your face so you don't have to hear, see, or smell his awkwardness, but action-for-action, Eric is so much worse. He is willfully manipulative and there is an entitled rage bubbling so deep within him, you can sense it even before you've even managed to get those cotton balls out of your nose.
Leida's sister Reina has flown with her from Jakarta, Indonesia to New York, and Eric describes her as "quite judgmental," just because she's been hesitant about her sister moving away from her pampered lifestyle to be with a man who looks a decade older than he says he is, won't show her his home, and is driving them to some random cabin in Pennsylvania under the guise of wanting it to be more convenient for Leida's traveling family, when really, a connecting flight would take far less time and effort.
But, to be fair, there's something up with Leida too. Eric describes her as "a med school graduate, a model, and an actress," but is she? She looks a lot different from her photos, she acts a lot younger than 29, and she seems to interact with her son very little. I'm not going to make any grand accusations just yet…but I will keep my eye on her and continue to judge wildly and silently, just like my new mentor, Reina.
Leida describes her classic love story in her first testimonial: “I meat Eric when I accidentally click his ad, and I was like, he’s not bad … and also, he lives in America, so why the hell not.” Somebody listened during “thesis statements” day in AP English!
Eric says he didn't want Leida and Reina to fly directly to the Midwest because he "wanted them to be able to see some of the United States before they saw my place." So he speeds them through Queens on the way out of JFK, briefly gestures toward the Chrysler Building, and when Leida asks why they have to go to lame ass Pennsylvania, Eric replies:
Welcome to America, your fiancé is a drag!
And listen, New York is expensive, boy don't I know it. To host a family there so that they don't see you live in a super sad apartment you're trying to evict your teenage daughter from would be quite a pricey little manipulation. But, if you're going to build your marriage on a foundation of lies, you've got to keep them straight, dude! If you're going to say you're not taking Leida and Reina to your small-town home because you want them to be able to see more of America, then taking them to a rented cabin in small-town Pennsylvania is a little suspect.
Gah, but watching Leida give the stink-eye to this perfectly nice cabin that is about 20 times nicer than where she'll ultimately be living in Wisconsin, matched with Eric’s mounting frustration as he realizes that perhaps purposefully misleading his fiancé was not the bulletproof plan he once thought, is just a masterpiece in layering on tension.
Eric says that he’s worried about what Leida expects from the apartment in Wisconsin because it’s “a major downgrade from what she's used to and I have not told her everything about it.” He says he’s shown her “some of it” on video, but “I don't know if she's grasped what I've shown her and what it's supposed to be."
Bro, what??? Did you show her the inside of the oven and expect her to understand that you live in a a very non-luxurious apartment the likes of which she has never lived in before? Leida asks Eric why he can't just get a maid at his house…
Clearly not understanding that unless she's willing for that live-in maid to sleep in the bed with them, there would be nowhere for that live-in maid to…live.
Reina, for her part, makes no complaints about the cabin accommodations. There doesn't seem to be anything stuck up about her judgments except for the fabulously "rich lady" ensemble she's sporting the next morning. You can smell the Chanel, and Reina — Reina can smell the lies.
Reina asks if three months is enough time to get to know each other in person, and Leida responds that they're already such a good team (their teamwork, by the way, has thus far involved Eric presenting an "American breakfast” of burritos, Leida complaining that she misses chicken porridge, and Eric telling her that her chicken porridge days are over).
Reina responds to her sister: "How do you know that you're a great team, you haven't been together."
You see, Reina isn't really looking out for Leida in this situation, she's looking out for her nephew Alessandro who is moving with Leida to Wisconsin. She explains to the camera that Leida gets irritated easily, and when she does, "She becomes a really awful person—she's annoying, basically, and I don't know if Eric knows that."
This makes a lot of sense. Leida is still too good for Eric, but she does seem annoying, and notably immature. When Reina asks who will take care of Alessandro once they're in Wisconsin, Leida says, "Me," in a way that suggests she is not normally the person who takes care of her son.
And while Eric actually does seem to handle that cute little nugget pretty well, I bet we can assume he has some pretty traditional gender views on raising children. Eric snipes that the only time they've had problems is when other people have gotten in Leida's head and then nods aggressively at Reina like the petulant little punk he is.
Reina says the only reasons she's there, and the reason her parents are coming in a few days is, "We just want to see how your world is here: where you live, where you work. We don't really have higher expectations, we would just like to be honest with each other."
A very reasonable expectation! Sadly, not going to happen. Tuck that baby in your carry-on, grab a handful of Warby Parkers at the airport, and get the hell out of there, Reina.
ASHLEY & JAY
What to say about Ashley and Jay? He is a 20-year-old who can't stop talking about his dick…
And she is a harried mother of two whose subconscious is screaming through her eyes that she knows she's making a mistake, while her conscious body somehow allows her to stay with this dude who keeps bragging about how most Jamaican men will settle for any "fat and slobby" American woman to get a visa, but not him—he found a hot American woman with whom to settle…
And now… now he's got that visa.
STEVEN & OLGA
It's weird watching 90 Day Fiancé because you can laugh joyously at some couples as they ignore red flag after red flag, but with other couples, it just feels so sad because the stakes are so much higher.
90 Day Fiancé has an incredibly manipulative music department, and I follow their lead without question. If they start creepy music, I assume Colt is about to open his closet to reveal his many, many jars of teeth; if they start playing wonky music, I assume Jay is about to finally just pull his pants down and just show us these giant testicles he keeps talking about; and if they play sad music, I assume that Steven's life is about to turn into a non-stop tragedy.
Steven and Olga's 90DF segments are wall-to-wall sad music thus far. The stakes generally seem highest when there are children involved, but whereas Ashley seems to kind of be able to keep her kids out of it thus far, and Kalani has a support system (no matter how nasal-toned) to fall back on of things don’t work out, Steven and Olga are two children who are also having a child — super sad double disaster guaranteed!
As the story goes, Olga was visiting America from Russia for the summer; Steven was bumming around Ocean City; they met, had unprotected sex, and when Olga had to go back to Russia, she was pregnant with Steven's baby. We don't hear anything from Olga in this episode, but we do see a lot of professional maternity photos of her, which leaves an…interesting impression.
Steven seems like a nice enough kid, but he's a self-admitted screw-up who was perfectly happy with being a screw up until he found out he was going to be a father.
Steven's dad died when he was young and his mom kicked him out of the house when he was a teenager, so he wants to be there for his son in a way that his parents were not. He proposed to Olga after only a month of knowing each other, they applied for a K1 visa, and while they wait to see if it goes through, he's flying to Russia to be there for the birth of their son.
Steven has never been out of the country before, never flown before, and until he got a Russian woman pregnant, had no idea that America's relationship with Olga's home country is…strained.
Ugh, you guys, I'm so nervous.
KALANI & ASUELU
I need to know exactly what Kalani Kardshian's "I worked my ass off for 30 years" dad does for a living. Because after her sister kicked her out of their condo, she is now staying at this mansion of an Airbnb that she keeps referencing as though she was suddenly thrust into a dumpy motel that doesn't have stainless steel finishes as far as the eye can see and what I'm sure is not a stacked washer-dryer.
I've heard no evidence that Kalani has a well-paying job, and their familial intensity seems to rot from the head down, so what does that Robert-Kardashian-style head-of-household do? Was he on the defense team for O.J. Simpson? It seems the only explanation.
As for explaining why everyone in Kalani's family hates Asuelu so much, I tried to be open-minded to the idea that they were getting a bad edit, but Kalani will not stop talking about how her dad wanted her to marry a white guy, and I just don't know how else to explain that clip where he tells her, "You know how I feel about you being with my kind of people."
Add that to Kalani's extreme embarrassment when Asuelu arrives and does a heartfelt, grunt-filled traditional Samoan dance to celebrate her birthday at the airport, and you've got yourself an uncomfortable cultural situation that I fear there will be no winning for Asuelu.
Kalani's family holds it against Asuelu that he wasn't around for the first five months of his son's life, and then they question his intentions now that he's arrived. Will the fact that once Asuelu finishes up his dance and starts talking, he reveals himself to be a Samoan cupcake help him or hurt him in winning the family over? I do not know.
But it's hard to imagine that Kalani's sister would continue to think of him as the island player Kalani once (falsely…allegedly) painted him to be once she hears his tinkling clarinet of a voice. Asuelu walks through LAX filming everything with big bouncy ball eyes, saying, "Oh, hello Kalani" when he spots her like a schoolboy greeting a beloved teacher, does his happy birthday dance, and then leaves the airport without his shoes on.
Asuelu speaks decent English, but he speaks it veeeery slowly and sweetly, like an itty bitty Samoan treacle tart. I love him. I understand that Kalani could have been overwhelmed in the airport because her entire life is riding on the next 90 days and her judgmental ass family, but when he tells us, "I did my dance for Kalani because I want to surprise her and make her feel proud of me, and make her happy," I found myself exclaiming aloud: You betta GIVE THIS BOY a hug!
But, then again, Asuelu did not come here to dance, he came here to raise a child with Kalani, and when he sees five-month-old Oliver for the first time in three months he looks a little bit like me when I used to try to convince the kids I nannied for that I had any business handling any kind of sports equipment. Ah, yes the ol' soccer ball. Now we always want to kick these directly with the front of our toes, as you'll see he—oh yes, there it's gone. Run yonder and get that ball, child.
Asuelu says a normal day for him in Samoa is collecting firewood and coconuts and taking them back to his house that doesn’t have walls. Needless to say, he is also impressed with the Airbnb.
But he's never taken care of a baby, and he feels bad that he wasn't there when Oliver was born: "I want Kalani to feel like I'm more helpful than she think, and I'm also good person to meet her family." Things go well when he meets Kalani's mom, but she mostly seems like a nice Mormon lady who's had a harder time getting past her daughter having premarital sex than who she had it with and where he's from.
There's a dinner with the whole family coming up, and Kalani says everything will be ruined if Asuelu doesn't make a good first impression. I simply cannot see how that would happen…
JONATHAN & FERNANDA
Where is Lumberton, North Carolina and why does everyone from there except for Jonathan sound like they're talking through a throat full of honey? Also, is it the southern version of the town from Get Out? I have lived in a lot of Southern places, and I have never heard anyone talk with an accent that sound like they have marshmallows in their ears, nor serve a full southern meal with three different greens, none of which are fried, for a chill friend hangout.
These friends creep me out.
But let's do a quick rewind because, as you may recall, the first thing Fernanda saw in her new house in her new country was an old thong.
Allegedly, because Jonathan hadn't cleaned that dresser out in four years since he last used it, which just annoys Fernanda more because the one thing she asked Jonathan to do before she moved there was clean out any evidence of his former playboy lifestyle (which, frankly, I think he is playing up because I just don't know how much action there could be in Lumberton when everyone is so busy living in creepy plantation homes under the age of 30).
Jonathan begins the next day by going to Starbucks to get Fernanda a treat, whichyeahhefuckingbetter. He seems to feel remorse for ruining Fernanda's first night in the United States, but on his way back with the drinks he tells the camera: "I got some coffee this morning so we can have a better conversation today and wrap this up.
Oooooh, so you're That Kinda Bro, huh? The kind that views your fiancé being upset as a situation to get past rather than an appropriate emotional response to having her needs disrespected.
"Hey baby," Jonathan says when he enters the house.
This is where I tell you that I love Fernanda. For a teenager, she seems to have a real solid head on her shoulders! And she's just so pretty.
In her testimonial she says, "For me, respect in a relationship means everything. If you don’t have respect, you don't have nothing; if you don't have trust, you don't have nothing. And this situation leads me not to trust him.” She reminds Jonathan that she left her country for him and only him. It makes her questions if he — at a full 12 years older than her — is really ready for this when he can't do something as simple as…
But Fernanda is willing to give Jonathan another chance, aaaand the first thing he does with that chance is introduce her to his awful friends.
I should say, that in the end, Jonathan's friends don't do anything much worse than seem like a bunch of simpletons who were excited to be on TV and bring out all their wedding china, so they did whatever the producers asked them to. It's really Jonathan who's at fault for bringing Fernanda into the lion's den. "They can be a tough crowd," says Jonathan. "They like to push buttons and put me in awkward situations." Cool, cool, very cool friends, Jonathan!
Button-pushers are my very least favorite kind of people, but Fernanda is ready to take it on. She’s all, You only have one chance for a first impression, which is either a saying in Mexico as well, or Fernanda is adapting very quickly to the States.
The whole situation is just so weird, starting with Jonathan and Fernanda pulling up to this giant house owned by Jonathan's friends that are presumably around 30 like him. "I'm a little bit nervous because all my friends live with their parents," Fernanda says. I love her. And don't worry, girl, somebody's parents paid for this house in one way or another.
I find the spread, and the fresh flowers, and the high-backed chairs, and the wine goblets of sweet tea a little try-hard, but Fernanda says she feels special that they made this table full of food just for her. That is nice, but I want to be clear about something before this newsletter goes any further: if any of you ever served me sliced-up, unfried okra rounds, our friendship would be over—and for good measure, I would probably yank a couple of wall sconces out of your lovely home on the way out :)
Fernanda doesn't know to be offended by these unseasoned vegetables, but the message is pretty clear when the entire table starts grilling her about getting married so young. Then the host of the dinner starts talking about how people in this area of North Carolina (where Fernanda has just moved) think people from Mexico are "taking jobs, and taking public assistance, and bringing crime."
Again, cool cool, very cool friends, Jonathan! I cannot believe how chill Fernanda plays this completely unnecessary conversation detour. "When the thing with 'the wall' comes up, I know they want to defend their country—and I want to defend mine," she says. "Sorry, but I have a different perspective." Seeming to have passed their test, the exact same dude who brought up this negativity at his own dinner table is all, "You're always going to have naysayers, but I think love has no borders," a line that he has surely been practicing from the moment he learned cameras were coming to his house.
But Fernanda owns this table now, and she rolls out her winning line of the night: "Jonathan showed me [love] was possible."
You better deserve her, Jonathan!!!
COLT & LARISSA
Wowzers. Every Colt-and-Larissa segment is wall-to-wall bananas. The cringe will make your ears sweat. It's so good, I could basically just give you a full transcript of all of their scenes below, and it would still be landmine after landmine.
The episode opens with Colts's mom Debra picking him up from work because, as you'll recall, they not only share a home, but a car (and I would not be at all surprised to find out, a bed). Next, Colt delivers a tour de force in the clerk-you-avoid-at-the-sandwich-shop-and-for-good-reason category.
Colt says he's not sure how his mother is going to react when Larissa arrives in the next few days because they've always been so close: "Maybe a little too close, but in my opinion, a man's first best friend would be his mother." I reiterate that this is nearly a word-for-word quote from Psycho, and the foreign woman showing up to drive a wedge between mother and son plot is an oft-used device from its television prequel, Bates Motel. Luckily, all of Norman's girlfriends in that show always ended up totally fine and not at all murdered…
But as with those two on-screen journeys into the fragile male psyche, the mother wasn't exactly helpful in her son's burgeoning hatred of women, sure—but it was nothing in comparison to the voice inside his head that sounded like his mother telling him that women are dangerous. "On more than one occasion, I've had girls tell me that my mom was more or less a burden and that I should consider separating from her."
Have you, Colt? Have you? Or—and stay with me here—is there any chance those “girls” were you in a dress, looking in the mirror?
For her part, Debra seems a little nervous about the upcoming adjustments, but she doesn't seem unhappy for her son, or like she's unwilling to change. It's almost like Colt wants her to be more upset over Larissa's arrival; wants her to see this change as another woman taking him from her; wants to be seen as a more desirable presence in both of their lives than he really is.
There is a chilling moment at the dinner table where Debra serves Colt a steak and baked potato on a paper plate (it gets worse), and he coos, "Thank you, you're such a good cook, Mom" then tries to hold her hand, and she swiftly evades him. I think Colt really is this weird, but he tries to be extra charming for the cameras — he just so happens to not have any understanding of what is charming and what is repulsive.
I wonder where, dear reader, you might think this little scene falls on that charming-to-repulsive scale: As they sit across the table from each other, Colt tells his mom that in Brazil, couples sit next to each other when they eat. "Like, if you and I were dating, we might sit next to each other," he says, looking pointedly at Debra.
Have you returned from the restroom? Brushed your teeth and mouth-washed? Okay, let's continue…
Colt says that with Larissa arriving tomorrow, the elephant in the room is "of course, boundaries in privacy." Debra blinks at her son. Colt takes this as the time to say, "Her and I are a couple, and there are things we'll want to do by ourse—"
"Shut your door."
Your mother doesn't need sex explained to her, Colt!!! People have sex in houses with other people in them all the time! You are the only one being weird about this! When Debra says, "If your door is closed, I won't bother you, and if my door is closed, don't bother me—you never know who I might have over," I decide that I like her. But then I remember that she is 50 percent responsible for Colt's existence in my brain, and I go back to neutral.
Finally, there comes a time in every boy’s life where he has to stop acting weird with his mom and start acting weird with his fiancé, and for Colt, that time has arrived. He heads to the Las Vegas airport and loiters around in baggage claim in the widest, whitest pair of off-brand sneakers, and the widest, dingiest pair of jeans you have ever seen. It is already an unfortunate outfit in which to see a man waiting to greet his fiancé for the first time. And that's before we see Larissa…
The camera pans up our favorite Brazilian question mark, dressed for the club, and hopefully wearing enough supportive garments to sustain a whole heap of disappointment. When he spots her, Colt greets Larissa with, "Hey, Larissa." And Larissa greets Colt with:
There is an initial hug, but after that, Larissa truly cannot get over the fact that Colt didn't bring her flowers. And yes, he should have brought her flowers! But the amount of times she says so is pretty unbelievable.
It should be evidence to Colt that it is important to Larissa to be celebrated in a tangible way; but if you can believe this, Colt mostly blinks and chuckles nervously. The way Larissa won't stop talking about the flowers is a little annoying, yes, but the way Colt won't admit that he should have provided more fanfare for her arrival, and won't do anything to correct it is ultimately much more disturbing in terms of this-relationship-not-ending-in-disaster.
As they walk out of the airport, Larissa spots (gasp) a vending machine of flowers, and exclaims, "There's flowers, Colt!" Colt scoffs and says, "I'm not gonna buy you $20 flowers from a vending machine." And in the time you take to consider which part of the flowers he finds offensive, the vending machine or the price, he continues: "I should show you how much parking has been since I got here so early for you."
Oh yes, Colt, that's what women love: knowing that you spent a lot of time by yourself earlier. It's definitely that and not thoughtful tokens of appreciation for moving to a different country for you.
Also, how much could the parking have been!? Twenty dollars?! Plus another $20 for flowers?! Forty dollars for your fiance's first day in America, when I feel confident you'll be returning home for some economically-friendly Hamburger Helper, seems a reasonable sum. Also, you live with your mom! Also, your car that you share with your mom doesn't have an air conditioner! WHERE IS YOUR MONEY, COLT?!?!
Finally they get in the car, and presumably, Colt will take Larissa to the best part of the Strip so she can see the glitz and glam she associates with America before she sees the glitz and glam of Colt's cat-costume closet. But she can hardly look at anything because she's so hot.
As discussed, Colt's car does not have air conditioning, and not only do I not understand how that's possible in Las Vegas, I would consider it the highest form of psychological torture to lure me to a country and then put me in a receptacle that is commonly known to have air-conditioning — then reveal to me that it does not have air conditioning, it's my only means of transportation, and I now live on the surface of the sun.
I think Colt has a lot of manipulative tendencies, but this is by far the worst one on display yet. In her testimonial, Larissa says her goal in America is to: "1. Marry, 2. Apply for the green card, 3. Get a car with air conditioner," which is very, very funny and almost the correct order of prioritization.
Finally, Colt takes Larissa to the Las Vegas sign, which also happens to be on the furthest, least attractive end of the Strip. "I know Larissa loves me as much as I love her," Colt says, incorrectly. "But in general, she seems very unhappy with everything," Colt continues, correctly.
Larissa is confused that Las Vegas isn’t like the versions of Hollywood she’s seen in movies but her, "I feel uncomfortable; it's like Mars, it's like another planet," is pretty standard culture-shock stuff. She might feel that way for awhile, but she has a supportive partner she's in love with who will help her through the transitional times ahead…
Oh, wait no, I got mixed up.
She has Colt who for the first time all episode correctly assesses the situation at hand when he says: "I'm now literally terrified about bringing her home and meeting my mother and my cats." Good. You should be.
Thanks, as always, for following along on this 90 Day Fiance journey with me! If you need to play catch-up on any pop culture goodness, check out the TATBT archive.
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