Most of us were not surprised at Caleb and Alina’s absence from the 90 Day Fiance: Before The 90 Days Season 5 Tell All.
Months ago, Alina’s old posts resurfaced, involving racist slurs. After outcry from fans, TLC edited out the couple’s storyline.
But Mike Berk was at the Tell All to discuss his relationship with Ximena, even though his old posts are arguably worse in several ways.
Why the double standard? That’s what Alina is asking.
Alina Kasha, whose real name is Alina Kozhevnikova, apologized after her scandal came to light.
(She initially denied that the posts were hers, but did ultimately issue an apology)
Now, she is wondering why Mike has not done the same … and why he’s not getting even close to as much backlash as she did.
Last week, just days before Part 1 of the Tell All aired, Alina released a YouTube video titled "It’s Always Bad."
"When I don’t feel fairness," she noted, "I can’t keep silent so I felt like I need to address it."
Alina emphasized that she did not intend to “bash anyone” and that she does not have “any personal issues" with Mike.
Alina acknowledged her own scandal, which came to light in January, much earlier in Season 5.
In posts dating back to around 2015, she had used, to put it bluntly, variations of the N-word, a racial slur that dehumanizes Black people.
Though she is Russian and English is a second language to her, her grasp of English and her having spent time in America made it difficult to understand how she could think that the slur was acceptable.
After the outcry over her genuinely upsetting posts, Alina was fired, disinvited from the Tell All, and she and Caleb Greenwood were edited out of the rest of the season.
But last month, Mike’s old posts were discovered featuring the same abhorrent racial slur.
Mike, an American for whom English is his native language, has no cultural or linguistic excuses … and the content of his posts was more malicious.
That right there? That’s not a "funny" joke, it’s a classic white supremacist talking point.
(Just for the record — because using SNAP or other assistance to eat and survive should not be stigmatized — more white people are on food stamps than any other group)
There’s no punchline to Mike’s old posts from 2013. Even without the slur, we’d still be staring bigotry in the face.
“Nothing was addressed when this same thing happened to my castmate,” Alina observed.
“He didn’t do anything, nor the network," she noted — no public apology, no firing, no disinvitation from the Tell All.
“If we are all against racism," Alina suggested, "let’s hold everybody to the same standards.”
“To conclude, I feel like if someone is getting fired and another person does the same thing, they have to bear the same consequences," Alina stated.
She explained: "It has to be addressed too if it was addressed before, and I think they should also apologize."
Alina affirmed: “What’s unacceptable to one has to be unacceptable to another."
A lot of fans of the show have been discussing this same thing.
(And some on social media have only just now learned of Mike’s scandal, while being very aware of Alina’s)
So why is there a double standard? Do TLC and Sharp only care about racism sometimes?
Some have suggested that TLC and Sharp Entertainment don’t necessarily care about racism at all — not when it comes to firing people, anyway.
These are businesses, who fire people because they might cut into the show’s bottom line, not because of the moral weight of their scandal.
In short, Alina wasn’t fired for racism, she was fired for receiving intense backlash with few if any people defending her.
To the best of our knowledge, Mike has not been fired, edited out, disinvited, or even issued a public apology.
(By the way, he also used transphobic slurs in these old posts, mocked the murder of Trayvon Martin, and made jokes about the AAPI community)
Yes, his scandal came to light later in the season … but he also hasn’t received backlash like Alina has.
To put it bluntly, sometimes very real scandals are weaponized by people who are acting in bad faith.
Many people were shocked and hurt at Alina’s scandal, because they had liked her on screen and were baffled by her social media history.
Some people did not like Alina from the show — because she’s a woman, because she has a sex life, even because she is disabled.
To the people who already disliked Alina, her scandal wasn’t upsetting — it was exactly what they wanted to use to lash out at her.
Meanwhile, Mike — thanks to a combination of editing, the audience’s tendency to like men more, and some sympathetic moments — is less hated.
Only in his final episodes on screen did Mike begin to show an ugly side of himself to the cameras, but that’s kind of too late to rile up most viewers.
This is not the first time that TLC has shown a clear double standard based, not upon actions, but upon popularity.
Maybe this isn’t 90 Day Fiance‘s fault — maybe it’s the fault of lawmakers for not regulating the reality TV industry in a way that protects stars and producers and mandates transparency.
Remember, this is the show that quietly disinvited now-incarcerated domestic abuser Geoffrey Paschel from the Tell All without warning viewers of who he really is.
Some fans had to learn months or years later, on social media, about Geoffrey’s harrowing personal and criminal history.
Imagine if Geoffrey weren’t in prison where he belongs, and fans met up with him and were endangered because they saw him on TV and thought that he was "safe."
90 Day Fiance is an enormously successful franchise, but the responsible choice would be to employ more fairness and a little transparency when it comes to these choices.