Celebrity | Reality

7 Behind The Scenes Secrets Of '90 Day Fiance'

It's such a simple idea, but TLC's 90 Day Fiance has become one of America's most-watched reality shows.

The series follows couples on a temporary visa, which allows the foreign partner to visit America for just 90 days.

During that time limit, the couple must get married, or else the foreign partner is sent home.

But the drama that happens during those three months is what has inspired so many seasons and spin-offs of this show.

Still, fans wonder just how real this reality show is. The answer, and other behind-the-scenes secrets, may surprise you.

1. The Show Insists The Couples Are Real

Before we get into any other details of the show, it's worth asking if the kooky couples featured on this show are for real.

Their behavior can be so unusual that some fans insist they must be "playing a part," of that the couples are cast like actors specifically for the show.

But producers and couples featured on the show say that's not true.

Matt Sharp, whose production company films the series, says he goes to immigration attorneys to find existing couples for each new season.

"We don’t put people together. Everyone we feature on the show, they found themselves organically," he said.

Anfisa Nava, who appeared in season four, can back him up.

"They weren't brought together by some casting director simply for the show," she said about other couples.

"By the time the cameras start rolling, you already know the person and decided you want to marry them."

2. There Are Background Checks...But They Missed A Few Things

Danille Mullins 90 Day Fiance
Danille Mullins and her fiance, Mohamed, accused each other of fraud.TLC - YouTube

The couples' visa applications are very rigorous, but the show also has its own interview and background check system, to guarantee they don't get any unsavory contestants.

Despite that, a handful of fiances with checkered pasts have been featured on the show anyway.

Danielle Mullins, one of the show's first stars, has been arrested multiple times for stealing cash, credit cards, and committing fraud.

Her fiance, Mohamed, even blamed Mullins' criminal behavior for their breakup.

Jorge Nava, who courted Anfisa in season four, has also spent time in jail for growing marijuana.

And that wasn't the only thing Nava and his bride-to-be hid from producers. While they claimed to have met on Facebook, podcaster Stevie Ryan uncovered that the pair really met through a very explicit webcam site.

3. Yes, Some Scenes Are Scripted

It's not unusual for a reality show's producers to use "recap" scenes, where the show's stars are told what to say to help guide the audience through unscripted segments.

They are normally hard to notice, but 90 Day Fiance's stars must be bad actors, because fans often complain about "worked" scenes.

Take the infamous moment when David Toborowsky's friend, Chris, asked to get "massages" from his fiance (now his wife), Annie.

The scene rubbed plenty of viewers the wrong way, and Chris' wife, Nikki, took pains to explain that it was not real.

“Yes, the awkward scene of Chris asking for a massage was SCRIPTED," she wrote on Facebook.

"The producer asked him to say it & Chris had to say it more than once because it didn’t come off as natural. We were fed our lines while sitting at the table, which is why no one reacted. WE ALL KNEW WHAT TO EXPECT."

Chris later revealed that in the original scene, "I never asked for a massage. Not until Adrienne the director encouraged me to say it in front of the whole cast and crew did I let a little peer pressure set in."

4. There's No Happily Ever After

Viewers sometimes get confused by the show's premise. It's not a competition or game show, all of the couples featured on 90 Day Fiance are real K-1 visa applicants.

That visa is what sets the 90-day deadline to get hitched, and TLC admits the application is quite a hassle for the couples.

Besides several forms, a fiancé applying for a K-1 visa must have a passport, a divorce or [deceased] certificate (of their prior spouse, if previously married), police certificates from your country of residence, medical examination records, evidence of financial support (or the ability to provide for yourself), and evidence of their relationship with your U.S.

Fiancé, including proof you've met at least once within two years of filing your petition. Though each case is different, the entire process usually takes a minimum of several months to process.

And sadly, there's no guarantee that anyone featured on the show will actually become a U.S. citizen - even after marrying their fiance.

Marriage only earns the foreign partner a green card, which is the start of another long and winding process.

5. The Couple Gets Paid (Next To Nothing)

Nikki (David and Annie's friend) also spilled the beans about how much contestants on 90 Day Fiance make.

She claimed that David earned $1,000 an episode, and $2,500 for the tell-all special. Meanwhile, Annie made nothing, since she could not legally work in the U.S.

That may sound like a pretty good deal, but remember that not every couple is featured in each episode.

The pay is also surprisingly low, when you consider that the show regularly draws millions of viewers, and even outperforms hit series like Teen Mom, which pays its stars hundreds of thousands of dollars per episode.

Oh, and the friends and family members who appear on 90 Day Fiance? They don't get a dime, that's just "a favor" for the show's stars.

6. The Couples Are Basically Required To Stay Married

TLC producers like to brag that "out of every 25 couples on 90 Day Fiance, we've only had three divorces."

But the couples have a good reason to stay together that rarely gets mentioned on the show.

The foreign partners need to marry their fiance in 90 days to earn a green card.

But they must also stay married to keep that green card. They are only allowed to apply for naturalized citizenship after three years and must stay married throughout those three years.

Green Card
A divorce or separation would cost the foreign partner their chance at citizenship.USCIS - Wikimedia

The application process features pretty invasive interviews about married life, so breaking up and cheating the system is pretty tough.

Basically, the couples are stuck together for three years if the foreign partner wants to stay in the country.

7. What's The Deal With The Awkward Seating?

Fans notice a lot of weird things in every episode of 90 Day Fiance, but nothing got under the audience's skin like Anfisa's odd posture.

After fans pointed out that she, and other female stars, were always sitting with their knees up during confessional videos, she spoke out.

"Producers make all women on the show sit like this if you haven't noticed," she revealed. "I hate it. So uncomfortable. Please somebody tell @TLC that you don't like it."

It's still unclear if the producers are trying to show off the contestant's legs, or if there's a more innocent explanation. But fans point out Anfisa's fiance, Jorge, never had to put his feet up like that.

After learning all this, do you still love 90 Day Fiance?

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com