It’s been a beast of a week but I had so much fun talking about 90 Day Fiancé with you last week that I had to throw this up. Better late than never? I hope so.
Jay’s visa has been approved so he says goodbye to Jamaica. Goodbye, fruit with flavor. Goodbye, Pregnant Poochie. Goodbye, Skinz, a.k.a. Papa Jay, a.k.a. God’s Gift to Women in Capri Pants. Hello, winter. Jay is unprepared for the cold. For rules. For monogamy. You know, the basics. We literally watch awareness wash over Ashley’s face as she realizes it’s up to her to tame her stallion. She adds potty training to her Honey Do list and welcomes her king home. I think we all predicted Ashley’s home decor style (Suburban pinterest) but no one, and I mean no one, expected her to have the largest collection of art signs in the US. Home. Family. Love. All of the classics are covered. This is Ripley’s level, people. Jay has his own version of Asuelu’s airport dance: he humps every flat surface he encounters. While sexual attraction is the overwhelming glue keeping these two lovebirds together, Jay can’t deny his second love is America.
COLT, 33 (Las Vegas, NV) and LARISSA, 31 (Brazil)
Colt and Larissa are miserable. Their airport meeting was joyless. Their tour of the saddest and most rundown parts of Vegas was hot and sticky. And now Larissa gets to meet Mama Debbie. We see you, TLC. We see each other! Debbie finds the most appropriate way to greet her son’s fiancée: by desperately sobbing into Colt’s chest. And we’re off! To be fair, maybe she’s just trying to distract Larissa from the state of her new home (I use that word loosely). Larissa instantly turns on her best Kim Zolciak and asks Big Poppa for a new house. With a pool. And cool air. While Colt and his mother gasp like wide-mouthed bass, production steers Larissa’s venom to the slot machine. She insults bad taste and (unknowingly) the memory of Colt’s dead father with a single blow. The air gets thick. Any facade that things are going well falls away. Larissa refuses Debbie’s beef stew and retreats to her sad bedroom. Debbie weeps in the kitchen. The only happy ending: the negativity doesn’t keep Colt from enjoying hot beef stew, Vegas-style (ie: next to an ugly slot machine).
The next morning, all involved want a do over. For Larissa that involves insulting Cookie Dough’s svelte, girlish figure and making breakfast for Colt. Clearly, one of those actions is a crime against humanity and the other is a breakfast sandwich. Larissa blithely informs us she lied to Colt about her skills in the kitchen. Girl isn’t even hiding her gold digging at this point. Larissa asks Colt to fetch his mother for breakfast. She’s eager to impress Debbie with her homemaking prowess. Colt knows each bite he takes will be a dagger in his mother’s heart. Debbie grudgingly admits the food is acceptable but before long, the two women wage war over Colt’s nutrition. He tunes them out and focuses on his feast. Toast for breakfast? Who would’ve known?
Steven may be young but he doesn’t do things small. His first airplane ride, his first Soviet country, his first baby mama. And he’s all in. As he transfers from air to rail, lost but not broken, I’m struck at how differently he’s handling this experience from past 90 Day fiancés. He seems excited to interact with locals. He’s kind and thanks them in their native tongue. He recognizes how lucky he is to be there. And when pregnant Olga surprises him at the train station, his excitement is tempered with concern for her well being. Before I wax overly rhapsodic, it’s important to recognize how low the 90DF bar is set. A homeless, high school dropout learns, “Spasiba,” and I’m ready to nominate him father of the year. But here we are.
Meeting Olga fleshes out this transatlantic love story. She’s a damsel in distress of the finest order. TLC might as well tie her to train tracks. From the orphanage to her little apartment, Olga’s life in Russia is tinged with sadness. In a kind twist of fate, Steven is so unworldly he doesn’t see the pallor of her reality. The glare from his tie dyes bathe their emotional red flags in a warm glow. Ultimately, we’re faced with two parentless children starting a family. Desperation, party of 3. Steven had nine months to learn about babies. Instead, everything’s a surprise. Babies don’t arrive on schedule? Shocking. Babies are expensive? Baffling. Olga leads him by the hand. She knows she’ll be raising all three of them. They go shopping. Steven can’t read the price tags. Nothing makes sense. Olga has home court advantage but she’s equally clueless. They snap and snipe but persevere. Checkout feels like a victory. For one single moment, they have everything under control.
While Eric and Leida pretend to sightsee, the true star of the family (sister Reina) documents everything. She knows her footage will eventually end up in a court case. Divorce. Murder. Fraud. The emancipation of sweet Allessandro. Leida is most concerned with terminating Eric’s parental rights. No kids, no child support. Leida knows how to save money. At a food court, Eric proudly shows off Wisconsin cheese. Leida thinks they’re going to taste it. Uh, no. She can have all the (government) cheese she wants in Baraboo. In Philly, they’re going to share a cheesesteak. Between four people. As Leida shoves a wad of grey meat into in Alless’ mouth, I’m reminded that it’s always the children who suffer. With a full belly, Eric marshalls his forces to head to the airport. The second onslaught of family arrives, ready to judge his every miserly step. TLC crams everyone into one family van. Fasten your seat belts, Eric. It’s going to be a bumpy night.
For a 19 year old, Fernanda is surprisingly self-aware. Jonathan has spent time in her life. He knows her friends, her family. She needs to do the same if she truly wants to know her fiancé. Dani (last week’s official opposition) takes her pity shopping. Dani seems fiercely loyal to Jonathan, secure in her role of protecting him from himself. She sees his relationship with Fernanda for what it is: a silly and potentially costly blunder (on both sides). But that doesn’t keep her from comforting an emotional Fernanda when necessary. Much like Jonathan’s friends last week, Dani is good people. So why do they cosset this repugnant man child? That is the biggest mystery of the season.
Fernanda Facetimes her family. She practically raised her siblings while her mother worked so they’re very close. Now they have a lifestyle that allows her mother and sister braces. That’s why Fernanda loves Jonathan (the smallest mystery of the season). Fernanda cries. Her family can’t get a visa to the wedding. Jonathan comforts her as best he can.
KALANI, 29 (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA) and ASUELU, 23 (Samoa)
Asuelu is already blending his new world with his old. In full sarong, he learns how to change his son’s diaper. Kalani takes him to the beach to prep him for family dinner with Daddy. Asuelu marvels at everything. Palm trees with no coconuts. Cold ocean water. And so many white people! But a black cloud covers the horizon. Kalani, putty in the hands of TLC production, makes sure Asuelu knows how much her family hates him. With tears in his eyes, Asuelu frets he’s not good enough for her. Gotdamn you, family Kalani! You’re torturing this boy. You’re holding him accountable for all of Kalani’s poor decisions and you’re making me watch! I mean, I know how TV works, but come on! Tears. Actual Samoan tears. I can’t take much more.
The opposing factors divide into teams for the evening’s festivities. Team Asuelu waits at the Airbnb. Kalani is terrified. Her mother busies herself setting up dinner. Asuelu clings to Oliver, his life ring in choppy waters. Team White Guys prepare for war. Sister Kolini needs to keep Dad locked and loaded if she hopes to win. And Kolini is going to win (know that). Dinner is as tense as one would expect. Asuelu breaks the awkwardness by apologizing to Kalani’s parents. He promises to look after his little family. For a fraction of a second I think Kalani’s father sees the real Asuelu. But his facade quickly clicks back into place and he gives Asuelu the Tough Guy Dad talk. Asuelu takes it all, cradling Oliver like an emotional support dog. Finally Kolini is
ready for her closeup can take it no more. She publicly stakes her claim as the rightful father of Oliver. On cue, Kalani demands Asuelu earn the role of Father from Kolini. Kalani and her sister share smug smiles while Asuelu tries to translate what he’s hearing. When is an Aunt a Father? We don’t know either, Asuelu. This is not normal behavior. Get out while you can. Take baby Oliver and Kalani’s mother and run. It’s your only chance.
Next week: Leida’s family arrives in NYC; Ashley’s friends throw a party for Jay; Asuelu tells his side of the story to Kolini; Larissa clashes with Debbie; Fernanda and Jonathan fight at the club; Olga feels contractions and gets unexpected news.