90 Day Fiance fans have been nothing short of horrified by one storyline on Season 8.
It’s not about Jovi’s bachelor party. It’s not about Julia’s 90 Day Farmhand nightmare.
Production continued to film Stephanie Davison during some of the lowest moments of her adult life.
It’s not ethical, and fans are disgusted with Sharp and with TLC for filming her and airing it instead of getting her help.
Stephanie Davison’s story began as that of a rich American cougar and her much younger love in Belize.
The pandemic, some very valid trust issues, and viewer suspicions of a scam being run all factored into the story.
All of that changed just 48 hours into Stephanie’s visit with Ryan Carr in Belize.
After a romantic dinner, the two went back to their room.
There, Stephanie asked that Ryan wear a condom — after 10 months apart, she wasn’t sure that she trusted him.
This is where things went horribly, horribly wrong.
According to Stephanie — who was recorded immediately after the fact — Ryan only pretended to oblige.
She says that she heard the crinkling noise of the condom wrapper, not realizing that it was a deception.
It was only after they had begun to have sex that she learned that he was not wearing one.
This is a form of sexual assault sometimes known as "stealthing," also classified as reproductive coercion.
It is illegal in many countries, but it does not appear to be outlawed yet in Belize — where spousal rape is also still legal.
This may be why Ryan did not actually deny it, and why he behaved as if Stephanie were overreacting to the assault.
This was awful — a gut-wrenching and painful moment.
What was worse was that, to my and the collective horror of countless other viewers, production kept on filming.
No one blamed them for rushing over to film Stephanie yelling as Ryan departed, but the aftermath?
Stephanie explained what had happened to the camera.
While we cannot attest to her state of being at the time, many observed that she seemed to still be intoxicated from dinner.
(Reminder, in case anyone needs to hear it, that no amount of intoxication means that someone "deserves" to be assaulted)
Viewers then watched in horror as Stephanie searched for her mother’s ring.
After what Ryan had already done to her, she wondered if he had stolen it to hurt her even further.
She found it, but … that was a painful moment of a woman processing her assault. None of us should have seen it.
Then, we all watched Stephanie call the one friendly face she knew in Belize — Ryan’s cousin, Harris.
He came down to support her, and we have watched the agonizing moments as she flirted with him.
Fans perceived Stephanie as unwell and possibly mixing alcohol with some form of medication, slurring her words.
Meanwhile, it appeared that Harris was more than happy to pick up where Ryan left off.
This meant that he appeared happy to take advantage of her wealth and what she could do for him.
In her emotionally vulnerable state and apparent intoxication, she needed help — not to continue filming this farce.
"She needs an intervention not a spot on a TLC dating show," one fan observed on social media.
"TLC doesn’t care," lamented another.
Another quipped: "They wouldn’t prevent a murder if it meant missing out on footage to air on the show."
Let us be very clear: production and the network have made choices about what to air before.
During Season 2 of The Other Way, for whatever reason, they did this during Deavan and Jihoon’s season.
Editors spliced footage of two unrelated events as if they were cause and effect, turning viewers against Deavan.
In that instance, there was a moment when Deavan’s three-year-old daughter ran ahead of the group, as children sometimes do.
That was filmed. Instead of airing that swift, harmless resolution, viewers then saw Deavan and Elicia tearfully laying into Jihoon.
There was no card to explain that they were chastizing him for another event that happened later, that simply wasn’t on film.
Jihoon stopped paying attention to Drascilla, Deavan explained on social media, right next to traffic.
Because he was on his phone, the three-year-old could have been hit by a car. That was dangerously irresponsible.
That part was not filmed, and fans only saw what looked like an outrageous overreaction … feeling misplaced sympathy for Jihoon.
There’s another incident of production dishonesty that’s even closer to this situation.
In 2020, more than nine hours of the Tell All special leaked for 90 Day Fiance: Before The 90 Days.
The leak was an accident, but it gave fans an unprecedented look at the raw footage behind these specials.
Usman Umar confronted his then-wife, self-styled "Baby Girl" Lisa Hamme, about calling him the N-word.
Lisa had already been embroiled in a scandal for using that slur and a homophobic slur on social media with fans.
Hearing that Lisa used that same slur — the worst word in the history of language — on her own husband? Appalling. Evil.
Had the Tell All not leaked, the world would never have known.
Why? Because editors deliberately excluded that particular moment — despite its obvious "dramatic" appeal.
Fans can only assume that they did so in the hopes of keeping Lisa part of the franchise on future seasons.
Those inexcusable deceptions are just two that we know about from 2020. There are likely many more.
So we know that Sharp and TLC are willing to exclude footage.
They have even declined to air footage that would have generated drama and controversy.
So why, we must ask, did editors do more for a slur-slinging bigot than they did for Stephanie?
The only answer that anyone can come up with is money.
It’s a sad explanation, but a simple one.
They stood to make more money from Lisa if she was a long-term star.
They stood to make more from Stephanie by airing these painful, embarrassing moments.
Getting someone the help and privacy that they need does not boost ratings.
At the end of the day, these networks care about little except for money.
Boycotts, advertiser pullouts, and similar methods by fans are the only way to get them to do the right thing.
Networks will take the risk sometimes if they think that they can make more money than they’ll lose by airing something that they shouldn’t.
Ultimately, we may need legislation — long overdue — for reality television.
There’s a difference from an entertaining edit (juxtaposing a confessional voiceover with other events filmed).
Some things should not be concealed by editing. Meanwhile, traumatic stories like Stephanie’s should not be aired so irresponsibly.