90 Day Fiance is a reality TV juggernaut. Some stars are beloved, some are infamous.
The breakups and divorces can be messy. A couple can be separated by political policies or even victimized by robbery.
Sometimes, someone drops the ball and a vicious abusive criminal is cast on the show.
How does all of this work behind the scenes?
How much does the network and the production company look into each star and each couple?
And what is the future of the franchise?
Those answers and more are revealed below:
90 Day Fiance is a Ratings Titan
90 Day Fiance has had seven seasons of its original show and half a dozen spinoffs. The franchise is both famous and infamous. Stuck at a family gathering? Waiting in a long line with strangers? If you're in a place where the culture permits speaking to total strangers, see who else watches 90 Day Fiance and start chatting.
TLC knows that the show is huge
In fact, Senior VP of Production and Development Alon Orstein has opened up to E! News about just that topic, saying: "We were talking the other day just internally about how so many people come up to us—and we’ve had this happen in the past with some of our other shows that kind of hit that zeitgeisty moment."
The show is everywhere
"But we have friends and family members and just random people you might run into in the grocery story or a hairdresser," Alon says. "When they hear you work at TLC go, ‘Oh my gosh, I love ’90 Day Fiance.’"
Casting is a selective process
"Sometimes it could be super short," Alon explains, "because we could interview someone that we really liked and something is instantly happening." In other words, if they know that they want you for the show, screening may get rushed if you have your own timetable -- for example, if somebody's pregnant, you can't just wait until next season.
It happens a lot
Alon says that this rush happens "particularly on [Before the 90 Days], and sometimes on The Other Way," when some people's journeys are more timely than others.
TLC will give people a hasty green light in situations "where [castmembers tell them], ‘Hey, I’m going. I’m going to meet this person,’ or, ‘I’m going to move to this other country and I’m on this timeline and I really need to keep it.’"
In the name of authenticity and respecting others, Alon explains, "we want to honor that."
Everyone's there for the right reasons
Alon says that TLC screens castmembers to make sure that "no one [is] trying to either get on the show for a lark or get on the show to advance their presence in some way, shape or form."
Wait ... really?
We think that he's saying that he wants to make sure that there's a genuine interest in getting married and making the move, not just an excuse to film for reality TV for a few months and then "break up." Which means that the ulterior motives for getting married that we've seen on the franchise are fine, because they DID want to get married.
Apparently they're diligent about it
"We are always certainly checking folks out," Alon relates, "but also asking a lot of the relevant questions to make sure that this is an authentic journey, this is a real relationship,”
And that's not all ...
“Of course," Alon adds, "we do background checks and social checks and all those things,"
Um ... really?
Notably, infamously, Geoffrey Paschel has been accused of brutal domestic violence against multiple partners, including wives and his own child, and of sexual assault. There is said to be a preponderance of physical evidence behind his arrest in 2019. He has a lengthy criminal record and many 90 Day Fiance fans and bloggers alike are repulsed and horrified by his casting. Seriously, WTF?
But it's mostly about their intent, Alon explains
"But we’re also really– through a lot of questioning in the casting process," he says, "doing everything we can to try to make sure that they’re there for the right reasons."
But it's not easy
Alon freely admits that it is "so hard to track the authentic journeys of all of these people."
What sets 90 Day Fiance apart?
"The real calling card of TLC and certainly with ’90 Day Fiance’ is that it is authentic," Alon says. Producers may be accused of being heavy-handed and editors of being even more so, but at the end of the day, the show is about real couples, not scripted actors.
It's reality TV, after all
“We’re not putting these couples together; these people aren’t actors," Alon notes. "These are real people and it’s all about individuals looking for ‘the one.’"
He knows that it can get a little weird
"And sometimes it’s across thousands of miles and sometimes they haven’t known each other for very long," Alon admits, "but these are all people who have connected on their own and we want to be that fly on the wall who’s along for the ride."
What if one of the stars is clearly being exploited?
Alon says that they know that viewers get upset when someone seems to be taking advantage of another, but that showrunners "try not to interfere in the natural course of things."
But they have taken steps before
"Certainly, we are very sensitive to the needs of individuals, if people need support if people need guidance, in some way we would like to provide that," Alon says. Notably, they showed Corey Rathgeber some never-before-seen footage that rocked his world during the Tell All in 2019.
It's not an easy choice
“I think each situation is probably different," Alon observes, "and it’s probably case by case as to when production would get involved."
Physical safety is another story
"We are incredibly serious about making sure that crew, couples, their families, etc., are safe at all times," Alon emphasizes. Notably, producers rushed in to break up a scary brawl that erupted between Pedro Jimeno, his sister, and Chantel Everett's family.
That policy applies everywhere
“It is number one priority, whether we’re in the U.S. or abroad," he details. "Certainly, if we’re in a dicey area abroad we have producers and security and are really making sure that we’re doing everything we can to mitigate the risk."
But scary things do happen
Alon acknowledges the machete-wielding maniac incident that happened to Paul and Karine: “It’s happened enough on shows in the U.S. in places that weren’t maybe as risky as where we were in Brazil at that time."
No production company can control everything
"So you never know when something might happen along those lines," Alon admits. "But we are very careful, particularly because we’re traveling to some countries which may have higher risk than others."
They want to do their due diligence
"It’s something that we spend a lot of time, particularly Sharp Entertainment, the production company, making certain that they’re dotting all their I’s and crossing all their T’s, taking protective measures," Alon notes. We would love if he explained how this applies to Geoffrey's casting.
They also try to help the stars
"There is prep on the front end, as far as when folks are first getting into it because these are regular people who haven’t been exposed to this kind of situation in the past–being on television, social media–all of that stuff," Alon notes. Yes, some stars have been taken totally offguard by what it's like to suddenly be famous.
TLC wants to provide stability
“And we provide support throughout, both TLC and Sharp, as far as just making sure people are comfortable. If people do reach out or we feel that they might need help for whatever reason, we will do so," he adds.
It doesn't stop when the cameras do, apparently
"And then again, after filming as well, we still want to be able to provide support and access to resources if need be for anyone who we feel might need it," Alon says. That's interesting to hear.
So what's in 90 Day Fiance's future?
"We feel there’s still elements to be explored beyond where we’re at right now.” Alon teases. “Don’t know what those will be yet, but we do feel like there’s still opportunities." We look forward to finding out!