FIND OUT WHENCE THEY CAME
|Oct 12, 2018||Public post|
For any new TATBT readers: WELCOME.You’re joining us at a hell of a time—we’re diving deep on immigration law!
Haha, J/K: I’m just recapping '90 Day Fiance' while we wait patiently for that other show about forced romantic connection to return. I will admit that there has been a small, gender-reveal-forest-fire-size uproar about me choosing 90 Day Fiancé over 90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days. If you would like to fan these flames, I am highly shame-motivated, so please do feel free to respond directly to this e-mail. Or you can catch up on 90 Day Fiance here and even more TATBT in the archives!
When you dig deep on your own familial dynamics — how you were raised, who raised you, the inherent compulsions lurking around in your DNA, et cetera — you're bound to uncover a great deal about why you are the person that you are.
As it turns out, you can also learn a lot about yourself by exploring the dynamics of strangers’ families! While the season 5 premiere of 90 Day Fiancé focused mostly on the American halves of these K-1 visa hopefuls, the second episode introduces us to their families. And what I learned from watching them is:
I'm incredibly judgmental…
That judgment is flawless…
And this almighty condemnation teeters on an edge so thin, Molly would happily use it to lace a bra the size of that Epcot Center golf ball.
When a family is unsupportive of their child's international-matrimonial endeavors, I think, Hey, let them make their own mistakes! When a family is too supportive of their child, I say, What are you thinking?! She's going to ruin her life! What was potty training like at your house, did you just let the kids fling shit at the walls??? And when they strike up a decent balance I think, Yes, BUT — you *raised* them to be someone who would think it's fine to fly across the globe with a toddler to meet a man who won't answer her calls and whose main personality trait seems to be informing her that she's fat and he doesn't like it — so WHAT GIVES, ROBBALEE???
When it comes to 90 Day Fiancé, I'm finding, there is no right answer. And again, that's not because every single couple out there applying for a K-1 visa has, shall we say, weird intentions — it's simply that TLC only chooses to show us these bonkers bananas couples who seem about as well-suited for each other as peanut butter and mustard…as my dad and a DVR remote…as myself and brevity…as David and financial transparency.
Just last year, my brother married my now-sister-in-law, who is from Brazil. They had to do all of this complicated visa math! And never did we question either of their intentions because…they both had great careers…and similar ages…and physically looked like they existed within the same species…and they answered each other's phone calls before they went on cross-country trips to see each other…and they didn’t (still don’t, even!) routinely and consistently body shame each other…
So our family was like, yeah, this seems like a solid case for legal lifetime love. We didn't even have to think about it, actually, because was no room for questioning — they are a very normal couple! These couples, though? These TLC-sourced couples??? These couples leave room for questions. These couples leave the space from Tampa, Florida to Morocco open for questioning what the hell is going on here.
But as it turns out, the most disturbing thing of all is when — given plenty of reason — a family asks no questions at all.
EVELYN & DAVID
Oh, Evelyn. I feel a little bad harboring this much ill-will toward an actual child, but since Evelyn's whole *thing* is that she clearly thinks she’s grown, she'll have to feel the full judgmental wrath of an actual adult woman sooner or later.
If Evelyn thinks I'll get over the casual fact that she is 18-years-old just because she has the wavy bangs of your favorite middle-aged aunt…she is wrong. I will never get over it. I will never stop wondering exactly when she turned 18. I will never stop wondering exactly how old she was when her current fiancé first slid into her DCDMs (devoutly Christian direct messages).
My first note about Evelyn is: "Oh this s a fuvkin ghteater girl if ive ever sene one." (A peek behind the curtain: I take constant, nearly incomprehensible notes!) Evelyn is gorgeous, like a young Anne Hathaway, and an insufferable try-hard, like the societally-conjured idea of a 2013 Anne Hathaway.
The scene opens up on Evelyn wearing a rainbow-striped Gap sweater in the New Hampshire home where she lives with her parents. She tells us, "My family and I are devout Christians. We do everything together, and we're just inseparable." Oh, I see what I've done here, and not for the first time either: I've mistaken uber-Christian vibes for uber-theater-kid vibes. This can also sometimes happen with uber-horse-girl vibes. My mistake…
BUT TWIST! Evelyn is a theater kid (sort of) — she's in a family band with her dad and her equally suspect brother, Solomon. But I guess, even if this family is giving off non-accredited-homeschool vibes, it's still a wholesome, idyllic sort of scene…
Until, of course, Evelyn explains why it is she's on this show: 90 Day Fiancé. See, she recently released an EP, and so she's been building her social media following.
One of those guys…was David. She usually ignores these messages, but if you can believe this: "There was something different about this one." One of the different things about David…is that he’s 26-years-old.
If 90 Day Fiancé has ended up being a little more math-heavy than you were originally signing up for, allow Evelyn, who recently took AP Calculus, to help you out:
Is that "ABOUT" flashing in neon lights to anyone else? Because eight years isn't a huge difference when you're say, over 30. But when one of the people involved is "18," numbers become very important. How long has David been 26? How long has Evelyn been 18? We know it couldn't have been longer than a year; she never refers to herself as "almost 19" which is absolutely something Evelyn would do; and they certainly seem to have had a pretty full relationship up to this point.
Evelyn says that her DMs with David quickly evolved into more than just an attraction: "I knew right away it was different with David." Excuse me, little miss — different with David??? To quote the greatest philosopher of our times, Marcel the Shell, I say: COMPARED TO WHAT?!
Evelyn seems to color herself quite the experienced adventurer, telling us, "My family and friends thought my relationship was moving too fast, and they were really surprised when I got my ticket to go see David in Spain." YEAH, I BET THEY FUCKING WERE, EVELYN!
In Spain, David proposed, they applied for the K-1, and this week is his interview in Madrid. They FaceTime to talk about how stressful it is, and even though David and Evelyn are by far the most aesthetically pleasing couple to date, and even though they seem to have a good chemistry, and even though I believe that they love each other…
I will never get over the image of Evelyn sitting in her childhood bedroom, FaceTiming a 26-year-old man. This paisley beanbag chair will haunt me until the day I die.
I see Evelyn's parents on my screen, I hear her tell me her weird family is devoutly Christian, and yet I must ask: where are this child's parents???
Apparently they're fully on board! Evelyn tells us, with what will become a signature smug ass look on her face, that she and David "share the same convictions," so David will be staying at "Pastor Tim's" house when he arrives. Everyone is just being so supportive about this 26-year-old man contacting a teenager on the internet! Solomon has his hangups though…
But tyyyyypical Solomon, he's just worried about the band falling apart. Thank goodness then, that for every spirited tryhard like Evelyn, there is a pragmatic Debbie-downer best friend like Mikayla.
Mikayla is Evelyn's best friend from high school, which again I ask, was how long ago, exactly? Evelyn prances into this coffee date with her friend in a pair of kitten heels that look like they might be a character shoe, with a thrifted leather satchel she just loves to tell you is vintage, with her hair all coiffed, and I would bet you $17 million and a K-1 visa that Evelyn writes off any of Mikayla’s concerns as Mikayla being jealous of her.
I know you, Evelyn — I see you.
But Mikayla is not jealous; Mikayla is spitting adult truth while wearing a graphic tee. Evelyn may have the perfect winged eyeliner, but she's the one asking the tough questions like, Does anyone in this relationship have a job or any money? Evelyn's answer: "I don't care, we're in love … but mostly, my family and Pastor Tim are enabling this." (Fine, italicized words: mine)
Is Mikayla the life of the party? No. But she's worried about her friend, and also, she got the opportunity to be on TV and she is going for it. Evelyn says that since they're getting married so young, they'll have the opportunity to grow together. And Mikayla, a mean, bespectacled icon, responds:
She asks why, if they're so in love, could they not wait a few more years to get married? Is she afraid they wouldn't be in love anymore? And ain't them the fucking asks, Mikayla? If you could just text a voice memo of you asking this to every single person in this franchise, I'd consider it a real solid.
Unfortunately, this gives Evelyn the opening to drop the bomb she’s been waiting to deploy this entire time:
Have YOU ever been in love, Mikayla? Chilling stuff. But my favorite thing about this entire exchange is how Evelyn keeps sucking on her coffee straw every time she makes what she considers a perfectly dramatic point, but the coffee-level never gets any lower.
And, y'know in some ways I respect a drama queen. My own mom was recently reminiscing with terror in her eyes about how instead of crying when I got hurt as a baby, I would…hyperventilate until I passed out. My signature combination of performative flair and asthma. Evelyn's style though, is more of a theatrical superiority that's hard for me to get behind. But I did laugh when her mom asked if she could make her breakfast on the morning of David's visa interview, Evelyn despondently replied:
Oh, to be 18 again, hardly able to put down the breakfast someone else is preparing for you due to the stress of awaiting a WhatsApp call from your grown-man fiancé telling you whether or not he can come live at Pastor Tim's house and not have sex with you…
EGGS FOR EVERYONE!
DAVID & ANNIE
Except Annie, for whom there will be no eggs and very little gold, and how dare you ask for it when you've been led to believe that it could be provided to you.
I was excited to check back in with David and Annie this week because I thought it would mean more of Queen Nikki. Instead, I just got secondhand financial anxiety from watching David try to tell Annie he couldn't afford the Thai custom of 11 gold baht while very much not telling her that he cannot, in any world, under any circumstances afford the Thai custom of 11 gold baht.
Reader, I confess to you that researching whether this was a reasonable request from Annie or not this took me down a 90 Day Fiancé Reddit hole I am not proud of.
Annie and David are headed to a gold store to look to pick out the traditional 11 baht of gold (around $6,800 USD) and David tells us, "I am extremely stressed…the mounting cost of marrying a Thai woman is beyond my expectation."
And listen, that is a chunk of change — it's not more than an engagement ring and an American wedding, but it's expensive, sure! What I cannot get past with David, however, is how he seemingly has not explained his actual means to Annie, and that he never tells Annie explicitly, I want to marry you, yes, but I could sell every single one of my internal organs and still not be able to pay $7,000 because I haven’t had a job in over three years and have been vacationing in Thailand on my friend's dime for who knows how long…
I can't get past it, but I can explain it: David thinks if he tells Annie he can't pay what she expects as part of their engagement, that she will not marry him. And my bet is, that’s the one thing David is right about. But if Annie wouldn’t marry David because he didn’t have enough money, then obviously: David and Annie should not marry each other. Surely this imbalance of expectations is not a healthy way to start a lifetime together…
MOLLY & LUIS
But if you're looking for healthy, you've come to the wrong place; just ask any plate of food consumed by Molly's family as they discuss light bigotry over bread bowls of what can only be described as variations on frying cheese. And each new bowl of fried cheese made me hungrier than the next.
We hardly even catch a glimpse of Luis this episode, but after having to watch her eldest daughter breakdown over his pending arrival last week, we now feast our eyes on the rest of Molly's Georgia family. Starting with her mother, who I love. Molly's parents split up when she was young and it's clear why: her mother is an open-minded, supportive angel, likely undeserved by most men, let alone Molly's dad, the human incarnation of turning Fox News on for five minutes before being lulled to sleep by its dulcet pterodactyl tones.
Luis is arriving from, as Molly consistently calls it, "the Dominican," in a few days, and she wants to get everyone on board with the idea that they'll be getting married 90 days after that. Molly's mom Becky is her best friend, and she calls on her for some cheese-fueled support. Becky says that she thought this thing with Luis was a fling at first: "Then I realized it was a serious thing, so I got serious about her happiness."
Now, listen, whether Molly's happiness equates the best decision for her life or not, that is a very sweet sentiment to hear from a parent. Molly is 40-years-old — she's going to make the decisions she's going make, and a parent can get behind them (while, ideally, offering for the grandchildren to come live in their home where there are no strange men), or she can drive a wedge in the relationship.
Becky chooses to be supportive, and she tells Molly that if her daughter Olivia sees her mother being treated well and being happy, then she will get on board. The important part there, Molly, being: if she sees her mother being treated well. Molly doesn't seem one for much confrontation, as evidenced by her mostly just eating her cheese more angrily when her dad is being nasty about her fiancé. Molly's mom says that her ex-husband "might be a bigot in sheep's clothing," but only if it is a sheep dressed up as a wolf dressed up as a bigot for Halloween.
Or rather, that's what she says to Molly; what she says to the camera with her most disgusted "but you didn't hear it from me" eyebrows is, "He's not a fan of her marrying someone from another country…"
I love this woman. Especially for the words she leaves Molly with: "I wish that he could see how wonderful his daughter is. And believe that somebody could love her for who she is and not what he could get from her." Put that emotional support straight into my veins, baby!
I imagine it’s that unique combination of boundless championing from one parent, and consistent rejection from another parent that might have something to do with Molly feeling confident about making the potentially self-destructive decision to sponsor a 25-year-old man to come live in a house with her daughters. And apparently in a house that also contains her hippie rock-and-roll cowboy brother Jesse who "needed a place to stay."
Exactly how many guest rooms does Molly have in that house? But at least Jesse is paying her back by going along to dinner with their dad Phillip as a…very timid mediator. When Phillip questions the kind of example it will set for the girls if Molly and Luis sleep in the same room, and Molly counters that he's the first man she's ever been with who would sleep in a different room if she asked him to, Jesse whispers, "She got a point." Yeesh.
But Phillip is ready to get down to dad-business now: "Well we get a situation right now, if you follow politics at all." H'oh boy. "I saw it on TV." H'OH BOY. "It was the very place he's from, the Dominican Republic, that a lot of those guys use this particular situation as their passport to America." H O H B O Y.
Molly correctly tells her dad that the K-1 visa process is not easy, so it's not exactly a free passport process. Phillip says, "I know you. If this falls apart — you're gonna be in counseling." He says the last bit really dramatically, which is just…such a weird thing to threaten as an outcome.
If this falls apart, you’re gonna have to…GO TO THE DOCTOR.
In these situations, I find it best to just…not try to convince people who are never going to agree with you to agree with you??? But that doesn't seem like an option with Molly. She’s going to make everyone happy, or she’s going to choke on fried cheese tying. I cannot tell you how excited I am to see her interact with her 25-year-old boyfriend.
NICOLE & AZAN
The opposite was true of Nicole: I was dreading seeing her interact with Azan, perhaps because he has been ignoring her calls for what feels like weeks.
It's time for Nicole to take toddler May to Morocco for two months — TWO MONTHS! — and things are going well.
Just kidding — Nicole is 22, she has a two-year-old daughter and the furthest she's ever traveled with her is…
90 Day Fiancé's Nicole is my mortal enemy…but she is also my muse.
Nicole's mom seems fully confident that Nicole is going to lose May in Morocco.
I'm not confident she won't lose May in Morocco.
But what a relief it was that after not hearing from him for a full three days before got off a plane in Morocco, Azan was indeed there to retrieve Nicole and May.
And while he seems to have to physically restrain himself from putting up the Heisman arm every time Nicole mentions the idea of them kissing, he does seem excited to see her, and is very sweet with May.
Nicole asks May who the strange man is and she exclaims, "Daddy!" which they both love, but I have had two stress-daydreams about since witnessing it. That, of course, does not hold a candle to the bakers dozen of wide-awake-nightmares I experienced from watching Nicole get pouty while Azan was taking on over her daughter who she's coached to call him Daddy, saying, "May gets all the kisses, huh?"
Oof. But all in all, this meeting was not nearly as bad as I assumed. First, Azan was there, and second, I expected that Azan was going to be mean because of all the…
But mostly he just seems like kind of a goofy, immature kid. When they get in front of the confessional cameras, Azan haltingly explains, "This time…I have to…treat you well? As you said. And…take you on date? And…buy you…flowers?" Nicole agrees, yes, those are the things she expects out of her fiancé while she's visiting him in his country for two months and considering having her family sponsor his visa to America in order to marry her.
But if she's looking for kisses, she's still out of luck, because every time she brings it up, Azan reminds her that in Morocco they can't show physical displays of affection in public…or in the car…or in private when they're completely by themselves. Sleep with one eye open, May.
As opposed to the 30-person polyamorous bacchanal that is The Bachelor, 90 Day Fiancé doesn't even show each couple in every episode. And while I did miss Her Royal Highness of Shade, Nikki this week, by comparison, 90 Day Fiancé is like reading a Highlights magazine. So, kick your feet up, relax, watch along with me, and be thankful you don't have to deal with all the, like, drama of being a teen in love.
(AGAIN, I SAY, COMPARED TO WHAT, EVELYN'S MOM?!) If you're new to reading TATBT, sign up here to get fresh pop culture in your inbox every week, and go see A Star Is Born this weekend because we gonna talk about it.