Culture

Why is 90 Day Fiance so addictive?

***spoilers for 90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days Season 4

Every Sunday night, my boyfriend and I clear the schedule to watch 90 Day Fiance (he watches it too, even if he wont admit it). It’s a simple pleasure and gives you something to look forward to as this quarantine continues to drag on.

I haven’t followed the previous seasons very closely, so this is the first one I’ve committed to watching from the start. As the weeks go by, I’ve realized that I almost feel invested in the story. Like I’ve put in the time to watch these couples navigate their relationships, and I’m expecting certain results.

The way the show is structured means we only see what TLC has chosen for us to see. As viewers, we’re led to assess these people based on their pre-determined roles. We don’t see the side bits or low-drama moments. The whole show is constructed to suck you in and keep you watching.

Can we make assumptions on these individuals based solely on what we see? You could argue yes; that what you see is what you get. You could also argue that it’s unfair to judge them in such a narrow situation. I’m on the fence. You know what you sign up for when you agree to participate on a reality TV show, but as viewers can we really be judge and jury?

Why do we love reality TV?

Reality TV seems built for our current highly-opinionated world, where people and shows can quickly go viral. There is always a conflict that creates an “us vs them” mentality, or “us vs the other”. Maybe we’re so drawn to it because it gives us a way to look into the lives of “normal people”, allowing for access into their daily activities — access we’re not typically privy to. Or maybe it’s because it shows that ordinary people can become so important that millions will watch them. They’re relatable, so it’s easy to find a connection that you can hold on to week to week. Either way, it’s undeniable that reality TV like 90 Day Fiance is so addictive.

I really have to give credit to TLC for some of the storylines. When David returned to Russia for the FIFTH time (yes, FIFTH time) to finally meet his Russian girlfriend, I thought “Wow, this guy is really in denial. Everyone is saying he’s being scammed, why won’t he just accept it and move on?” I’m telling you, when Lana showed up, I threw my phone across the room. “HOW??” I said to myself. “How is this even real?”. And then the episode ended! Just like that! How could they leave me hanging for another week?!?

What about Ed telling Rosemary that she should shave her legs? And that her breath stinks and her home is a dump? If someone said that to me I would be so appalled, and when he said all these things to her I felt like I was vicariously offended through her. It wasn’t me, but I had such a visceral reaction to it.

And I think that’s what make the show as addictive as it is: the situations seem so farfetched and wild, but they are real. These are actual people, with real lives. 90 Day Fiance combines takes the typical reality relationship drama and turns it up a notch.

And I mean really….what is more captivating than real life?

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