Just two years after marrying in a beautiful ceremony, Michael Jessen and Juliana Custodio have split.
The 90 Day Fiance couple had won over fans despite a number of potential red flags with their genuine love story.
However, their breakup is every bit as authentic. Among other factors, the marriage was a COVID casualty.
In the aftermath of it all, fans aren’t exactly divided. Basically everyone is Team Juliana.
When Season 7 began, viewers weren’t sure what to make about Michael Jessen and Juliana Custodio.
They had an age gap and a money gap and had first met at a yacht party. Something seemed up.
But the 43-year-old and 23-year-old proved that they really cared about each other.
Over time, fans cared, too.
Juliana formed a sweet bond with Michael’s kids, Max and Cece, and even got along reasonably well with his ex.
Maybe more than reasonably — Michael’s ex-wife, Sarah Naso, actually officiated their 2019 wedding.
Michael and Juliana did not return for Happily Ever After? for one very good reason.
They simply seemed happy, and there’s a question mark in that spinoff’s title for a reason.
The couples with the most drama and storyline potential stay with the franchise longer than fan-favorites.
On social media, Michael and Juliana seemed, well, happy.
We saw glimpses of a cheerful, blended family that got along well.
But after weeks of rumors of trouble in paradise, Michael shared that their 2-year anniversary would be their last.
Michael’s description of their marriage’s downfall placed the blame primarily at the feet of the COVID-19 pandemic.
(After all, it wasn’t even six months after they married that the world went into lockdown)
He affirmed that it was not Juliana’s fault, and though he expressed heartbreak, said that he understood Juliana’s desire to walk away.
Michael also implied that Juliana had already moved on, signaling that this split had happened quietly some time in the past.
But Michael did not have the last word.
In fact, he ended up apologizing for and editing that post after Juliana made one of her own.
Juliana acknowledged that, yes, the pandemic rocked their marriage as it did so many others.
However, she felt that Michael wasn’t really on her team.
She described their marriage as "toxic" and a total departure from the life that she had wanted to live.
For a while, there, Juliana was the only one keeping the household afloat.
"I was feeling like a maid," she characterized.
That is a particularly loaded image since it calls to mind that she was a young Brazilian woman cleaning up after white Americans.
You’d think that this might be about her adjusting to a stepmom role with Michael’s kids, but this was not about them.
Instead, it had a lot to do with Michael’s ex’s husband.
That’s right — Juliana found herself cleaning up after her husband, his ex-wife, and that ex-wife’s husband.
Juliana voiced her frustration with Sarah’s husband Sean’s mess on 90 Day Fiance: Self Quarantined.
"He leaves glasses everywhere," she lamented to the camera.
Even then, during lockdown, Juliana was reminded everyone including herself that she was "not a maid."
Having to clean up after people with whom you are living is sometimes part of life.
But usually, this happens with the expectation that it’s mutual.
If the same person is collecting dishes and cleaning floors without the favor being returned, well … are they really part of the family?
Fans are showering Juliana with outspoken support, and so are a number of members of the cast.
Larissa, Akinyi, Emily Larina, Jasmin, and Fernanda have voiced their support.
In a few of those cases, one imagines that they saw parallels to their own stories.
People don’t necessarily view Michael as a villain … but more as a cautionary tale.
It’s possible to be an overall good person without being a good partner, especially when major financial stressors arise.
It was never Michael’s job to plan for a global pandemic, but as her husband, it was his job to consider Juliana’s feelings and act accordingly.