'90 Day Fiancé': Is the TLC Reality Show Scripted? Fans Have Strong Opinions

There’s something about being able to peek into someone’s private life that’s irresistible to TV viewers. Reality shows are one of the biggest genres, even though most of us have a sneaking suspicion that not everything we see on screen is real. Of course, some shows are more truthful than others. 

90 Day Fiancé, the show which follows a U.S. citizen and a foreigner who have fallen in love and have 90 days to get married before the visa expires, has become extremely popular. Viewers love the intense emotions, arguments, and tender moments that happen when a person risks it all for true love. But is everything on the show real or is 90 Day Fiancé scripted? 

What is ’90 Day Fiancé’?

The TLC reality show features couples who have fallen in love during long-distance relationships with one person based in the U.S. and the other person based in a foreign country.

U.S. Immigration allows the foreigner 90 in the country for the wedding, before their visa will expire. The couple must get married within those 90 days or face deportation. 

During this time, the couple is learning about what it’s like to be together in person, meeting their partner’s families, and usually facing accusations that their only getting married for a green card. All this creates plenty of drama. 

Do fans believe ’90 Day Fiancé’ is real?

TV viewers have been known to watch reality shows that they know are scripted, but sometimes half the fun is guessing what is real and what is made up. 90 Day Fiancé is no different, and the show has created tons of buzz online, with viewers discussing their opinions on the show’s truthfulness. 

“It’s pretty manufactured,” one commenter wrote on Reddit, while claiming to work in TV production, although not on 90 Day Fiancé. “The producers leave very obvious fingerprints all over the scenes they create. …That producer will do everything they can to manipulate the subject so they can get the footage they want.”

The commenter continued to explain how the producers will manipulate a scene by casually discussing events individually with each participant. For example, they may tell the woman that they overheard their partner saying they will be in control during the marriage.

Then, they’ll get the man alone and say they overhead his friends worried about how much his fiancé controls him. In this way, the producer artificially manufactures an argument that otherwise may not have happened. 

Sometimes, online fans will discuss a particular scene’s validity, as one viewer did with the couple Russ and Paola Mayfield. “I feel like the Roos/Pao fight last night was re-shot,” they wrote on Reddit. “I felt like he was trying to not laugh the whole time he was yelling.”

Another viewer commented on the same couple. “…The Pao-Russ-Juan feud is 100% fake. Those quarrels weren’t anywhere near real,” they posted to Reddit. 

In general, it seems like most viewers realize at least some of the show is manipulated or not completely truthful. However, that doesn’t seem to stop them from tuning in. 

’90 Day Fiancé’ participants admit it’s partly scripted

Fans believe 90 Day Fiancé is not completely truthful, but what do the couples who’ve actually been on the show say? 

Viewers met Chris Thieneman and his wife Nikki Cooper on season five of 90 Day Fiancé. However, they weren’t actually one of the long-distance couples.

Instead, Thieneman helped his best friend, David Toborowsky, bring his fiancé, Annie Suwan, over from Thailand by paying for immigration costs. Thieneman and Cooper were in several scenes, so they definitely got a feeling for how the show was run. In 2018, they made a YouTube video sharing their experience. 

While discussing the show’s validity, Thieneman said: “Well, absolutely part of it is [scripted]. No question. Some of it is real and then teased with and added to subtracted from.”

Cooper also added her opinion. “I wouldn’t say that there’s a written script that’s like, ‘Hey, read this line, read this line. But there are times where there are different people or producers that come up to you and say, ‘Oh, I think it would be cool if you do this,’ or ‘I think you should say this.’”

So, even people who have been on 90 Day Fiancé admit it’s heavily edited and manipulated. The show is still fun to watch, but just remember to keep an open mind, and don’t judge too harshly- everything may not be exactly as it appears. 

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