90 Day Fiance may have spawned over a dozen spinoffs, but there's nothing quite like the original show.
And the series that launched it all just premiered Season 8.
This season introduces us to multiple new couples and welcomes back some very familiar faces.
On the premiere, things were pretty simple, as we're still getting to know the new stars.
Brandon has a number of unwelcome surprises for Julia, but he's not telling her until she arrives in the US.
Rebecca is ready to bring Zied to the US, but they still have things to work on and her daughter has her doubts.
Jovi and Yara are reunited, but even they seem to question how much they have in common.
And Mike is nervous about Natalie's arrival, just two months after he left her behind in Ukraine after ages of fighting.
Meet Brandon Gibbs and Julia Trubkina
Brandon is a 27-year-old who grew up on his parents' farm. He describes his parents pretty thoroughly -- his mom, Betty, can be a bit controlling. His dad, Ron, he describes as being like his best friend. They are very relevant to this story, and not just because he's living with them. (No, we cannot explain his mom's Murder She Wrote hairstyle)
They were pushing him to date
Apparently they (read: Betty) went so far as to create a Farmer's Only profile for him to date, but that is not where Brandon met Julia (My relatives who grew up on farms have always offered the same advice: never date a farmer, and it looks like Brandon reached the same conclusion). Brandon met Julia through video chat.
"You look like my future wife"
Just a short while after chatting, he sent her that gushing message. He eventually flew out to Russia to ask her in-person to be his girlfriend. Julia is a go-go dancer and bodybuilder who works in clubs, though more recently it seems that Brandon has been supporting her. She tried to visit him in the US, but when she disclosed that she wanted to visit Brandon, her boyfriend, the consulate told her that she would need a K-1 visa and denied her. That's ... not a great system.
Brandon didn't want to lose her
So he flew out to Iceland where the two met up, and that was where he proposed to her. Julia said "yes." Now, they're working out the logistics before she shows up in the US to live with him in rural Virginia.
Julia is having a hard time packing
It's hard to know what to bring with you for any move, especially when you have finite cargo space and are moving across continents. Brandon promises Julia that he will buy her whatever she leaves behind. (At the moment, it's unclear if this lovestruck farmboy really understands how expensive her clothing might be ... a jacket that she leaves behind might have more zeroes on the pricetag than he can imagine)
Julia is uneasy about living with his parents
Though she doesn't know the half of it yet, she very comically jokes about her desire to get a new place to avoid waking up and greeting Brandon and his mother at the same time. Again, she doesn't know the half of it.
She won't be staying in Brandon's room
Brandon, a 27-year-old grown man, is being forced to have a separate bedroom from his FIANCEE because his parents may really be as old-fashioned as his mom's hair (I'm not trying to bully Betty I'm sure that she's very nice, but this rule is ridiculous). So we see him packing up a spare room where Julia will be staying.
Oh, and Brandon hasn't told her yet
He straight-up admits to the camera that Julia will be angry when she learns about the sleeping arrangements (seriously who wouldn't?), but says that he'd rather deal with her anger than risk having her not come at all. Folks, this is a HUGE red flag. We saw this on The Other Way with Jihoon lying to Deavan just to get her to come there. It's a terrible foundation for a relationship. We're not saying that Julia doesn't have her own red flags, but this one with Brandon is pretty major.
Hitting it raw
Brandon confesses to his mother that he and Julia aren't using protection. Not "we aren't using two layers of protection" and not "well we both don't have STIs so her IUD is all we're using." No protection. Apparently Julia has some strong ideas about the purity of what goes into her body (that could be a red flag if they plan to have kids), but for the moment, it's just a worry that they're playing semen roulette every time that they bone. And Brandon admits that condoms aren't as fun (true, but ... seriously). He tells his mom that Julia won't take the pill even if offered.
Betty makes an appointment anyway
She sets up an appointment for Julia to meet with a gynecologist while Brandon tries to ignore her meddling as it happens. Real talk? Why not set up an appointment for Brandon to get a vasectomy? They're only a couple thousand dollars, they're reversible, and it just seems way smarter. Realer talk? Production may have had a hand in this part of the storyline. Like, Betty is setting up the appointment on camera.
Time for the other shoe to drop
Brandon and his parents do both acknowledge that Julia has a bit of a "Mr. Hyde" side to her personality. Yes, that's a red flag. Look, we all know that there are people who are very fun to be friends with but can be too emotionally volatile for a relationship. For now, we've just heard Brandon and his parents' ideas about Julia and have yet to meet her for ourselves, so we'll reserve judgment.
Welcome back, Rebecca Parrott and Zied Hakimi
Rebecca is a fan-favorite and she and Zied are familiar to us all. This time, however, their story will take place here, in the US.
Rebecca is a former private investigator
These days, we see her managing a restaurant. There's no shame in that, of course, but fans are bound to be curious what the story behind that is. Our guess? Money, hours, or something else mundane. She is also living with her daughter, Tiffany, to save money (the K-1 visa is expensive and 90 Day Fiance stars are paid very little)
She and Zied still have their issues
In addition to her 22-year age gap with the Tunisian man, there are still things for them to work out. "Whether it was cultural or just plain jealousy, there were definitely some things we didn't see eye to eye on," Rebecca recaps to the camera. "But for the most part Zied and I are always able to get through these issues that we have."
She and Zied chat
Zied is going to have his visa interview, and Rebecca cautions him to look, you know, chill. Zied has a potentially life-altering case of resting bitchface (not his fault! I get it) and in general can seem kind of gruff or come across as angry, and Rebecca worries that Zied coming in and giving off "I'm a grimdark pirate-slash-assassin who is too cynical for love or for smiling" vibes might hurt his chances of getting approval.
She also worries about her own past
Years ago, Rebecca brought over a different man via K-1 visa, so she warns him that this could be an obstacle. Basically, if people look at Rebecca's records and feel like she's just bringing people to the US -- even if they don't suspect her of being a scammer -- they're more likely to deny future suitors. It looks like worries about Rebecca's past coming to haunt her are going to play a hefty role this season.
Her daughter has concerns, too
Tiffany asks her mom if she has spoken to Zied about moving there. Rebecca admits that she has and that Zied would rather get his own place. He also, because of his conservative Muslim background, does not like the idea of Rebecca sharing a roof with another man, even if that man is her daughter's fiance, Micah.
Tiffany has misgivings
"It's not like I want to be living with my mother and her 28-year-old Tunisian lover," she tells the camera. "But she has already spent a good amount of money on Zied."
Worst case scenario ...
The last man to do a K-1 visa relationship with Rebecca turned abusive once he got to living with her in Georgia, which is why Rebecca broke things off and filed for divorce. Tiffany is understandably fearful that history will repeat itself, while Micah is adamant that he will not be giving Zied any second chances if that should happen. "When you meet Zied, you will understand why I love him so much," Rebecca promises.
Meet Jovi Dufren and Yara Zaya!
Jovi introduces himself as one of this season's new stars. He travels the world doing underwater repairs on oil pipelines, and he enjoys the travel. It's how he met Yara.
Is he ready to settle down?
That's the big question of this relationship. We can see from the interior of his fridge that he's ... not going to dehydrate any time soon, but there is a conspicuous lack of food. Should we read too much into it? No, but we are clearly meant to.
While abroad, he met Yara
Yara is from Ukraine. She is show-stoppingly gorgeous, and Jovi describes her as such. He was awestruck, but admits that things were awkward ... up until they had sex. (Note: I didn't even think anything of it because literally who cares, but Yara has said on social media that they did *not* have sex on their first date, so it may be that either Jovi or production are telling the story selectively. Again, it doesn't matter at all, but Yara has offered this clarification)
Yara ended up pregnant pretty quickly, and Jovi is the first to admit that he initially thought that she was making an effort to "trap" him .. but they made peace with the idea.
Yara suffered a miscarriage. The two of them ended up bonding through all of that, including that loss together, and figured that hey, maybe they're each other's forever-person.
Not everyone agrees
Jovi's mother, Gwen, has two big concerns. First, she wonders if Yara is using him to come to the US. Now, not everyone dreams of living here, and some 90 Day Fiance stars are downright opposed to the idea. But sure, it's possible for any couple. Gwen is also worried that Jovi is going to have to leave for 30 days of Yara's 90-day visa because of his busy, world-hopping job. In other words, this is a Tania Maduro moment. While we don't see him getting the same level of hate as she did (due to racism and misogyny), fans are likely to make the comparison.
Jovi visits his friends
Though Kline (yes, that's his name) and Sara are dating and have a newborn, they're not falling into the stereotype of coupled up people who want their friends to settle down. In fact, they seem worried that Jovi isn't ready for this at all. "It's all going to spiral down from here," Sara worries.
Jovi is excited
Admitting that Yara can be pretty high maintenance and is a "girly girl," he picks up a bouquet of flowers with which to greet her at the airport.
Here she is!
This makes her the first (narratively) to arrive in the US, as she appears at the top of the escalator.
She and Jovi embrace. Before things "spiral down" as Sara predicts, it's good to see that there is genuine affection.
Yara introduces herself
It will be fun to watch each of the non-American stars arrive and introduce themselves, as they often give off a very different impression than we get through their American partner's description -- for better or for worse.
Yara is exhausted
She just flew on a trans-Atlantic flight. Of course she's tired. Jovi wants to take her to see the sights of New Orleans, which seems like a great activity for another night. (Is it possible to anjoy a city after a long flight? Yes. But maybe I'm projecting here, that's for visiting Rome when you're only going to be in Italy for a week, not for touring a city that -- if all goes according to plan -- you'll be able to visit for the rest of your life)
What does Yara love the most about Jovi?
The producer phrases it as an innocent, off-the-cuff question, and Yara seems to have no idea how to answer it. Though we're leery of production trickery, this does seem like a genuine moment.
She likes ... his body?
So far, Jovi and Yara have both complimented each other's looks, but aside from bonding over the surprise pregnancy and tragic miscarriage, it sounds like that's about it aside from a love of diving in the ocean. A long-term relationship needs more than that. What do they like to watch on TV? What video games do they prefer? What temperature would they set a house to?
By "likes," we mean "liked"
Yara then shades Jovi by saying that his body isn't as good or desirable as it was when they met. Well ... these two have quite a future ahead of them.
Welcome back, Mike Youngquist and Natalie Mordovtseva!
Mike's segment starts off with a tour of his sizable property, which has been in his family for generations and which he has bought. He also shows off his cat. Pro tip: do not let reality TV cameras film you with a cat, because normal interactions with a cat make you seem "eccentric" at best on camera. Anyway, he has it all ... except for companionship.
He tried once with Natalie
Just two months ago, his trip to Ukraine to see Natalie ended. The two had called off their engagement after constantly fighting. As you may recall (and as we were all reminded in this flashback), Natalie and Mike have different ideas about a number of things, including major religious differences. Also, Natalie seems allergic to saying "I love you."