Welcome back to Vulture’s episodic coverage of the 90 Day Fiancé franchise! Since season eight of the flagship series ended a year ago, there have been new seasons of Before the 90 Days and The Other Way, and while there were some highlights, those spin-offs suffered from couples who had worn out their welcome. There really wasn’t much left to say about chaotic duos like Mike and Natalie or even perfect ones like Kenny and Armando. So it’s encouraging that season nine already promises something more interesting by giving us six new couples.
At its core, 90 Day Fiancé is most interesting when it tries to reflect the simmering, nonsensical dream of the American “melting pot,” and season nine’s first episode proves that the producers still understand what makes for relevant conversation. They also made the very smart choice to bring back one couple from The Other Way: Ari and Biniyam. No one in 90 Day history has gone through the sort of villain arc that Ari has crafted. Her excuse has always been that their relationship can’t work with Bini’s family so close, but that’s about to disappear. If there’s any “alumni” 90 Day couple to keep on air, it’s this one.
However, “Ketchup to My Mustard” doesn’t get to Ari and Bini. We do get a preview of Bini’s sister throwing wine on Ari, and honestly? That was cathartic enough for a season premiere. Instead, four of the six new couples have their drama put in front of TLC viewers. At a certain point, it became clear that 90 Day Fiancé will use any conflict they can find, no matter how controversial. Are there any couples here that reflect anything close to true love? Absolutely not. Are there train wrecks? Of course.
Let’s start with Jibri and Miona. These two represent a few common 90 Day stereotypes: There’s an up-and-coming rapper and a young woman who expects to live like a Kardashian within weeks of moving to America. They’re in the honeymoon phase and everything is about to come crashing down. I am always a fan of 90 Day’s Gorgeous Couples Who Have Simply Not Thought Things Through. As Jibri explained to his mom that he can “sell anything” when she asks how he intends to support a wife, I knew I was all in on this story. Jibri is being overly optimistic about everything, and his parents see right through it. The kid can’t even use a mower! On top of that, he’s lying to Miona about what he can provide. She better start loving the idea of that “prairie wedding.”
There are a lot of racial elements at play in Jibri’s story too. His mom is a “strong biracial woman,” as he puts it. Meanwhile, Miona is a white Serbian woman who wears so much tanner and weave it’s not surprising that many on social media are already accusing her of “Blackfishing” (trying to appear Black). Jibri’s mom has thoughts on Miona’s clothes as well, and something tells me she may have an opinion on that too. Jibri isn’t thinking about these things, though — he’s too busy hustling.
Then we get to Emily and Kara, two Americans who both seem to harbor an ocean of problematic thoughts and opinions. Kara is 29, and her fiancé, Guillermo, is 23. Frankly, six years isn’t the most egregious age gap in 90 Day history; Kara mentioning that she shares her future grandmother-in-law’s opinions on her fiancé’s lips definitely increased the gross factor, however. It’s also funny that Kara acts like she’s an adult when her job is making balloon arcs, a hobby she started in quarantine. Girl, you’ve been running a balloon business for a year — I don’t think you’re too mature for this guy!
Guillermo is traveling with an expired passport, so Kara is meeting him so they can fly back to America together. I’m not sure why they think this will work, unless Kara is just very sure of her capabilities as a white woman. There must be some visa or tourist loophole they plan on using, otherwise this seems like a waste of money. It actually feels like Kara is the one who is not ready for a serious relationship, while Guillermo wants to make this work for a number of reasons. At least Kara can speak Spanish!
Emily, currently living in Kansas in her parents’ house with her son, joins the ranks of 90 Day couples who got pregnant during vacation sex. Yes, like Ari and Biniyam and others before them, Emily and her fiancé, Kobe, had only been engaged for two weeks when she discovered she was pregnant. Because of COVID, Kobe hasn’t been able to see his son since he was born. I want to believe in these two because their kid is adorable, but there are too many questions. If Kobe is a worldwide model, why can’t he support Emily and their kid? Emily’s comments about loving Black men and her parents hinting at her incarcerated exes also feels like dangerous territory for Kobe to walk into. Her parents are already taking Emily’s sins out on him, and I don’t think they’re going to trust him. Emily is also only thinking about herself. Does she really think a male model from Cameroon is going to be comfortable in Kansas? She doesn’t get how serious a shift this will be.
Finally, we met Bilal and Shaeeda, who almost feel like they could be this season’s Kenny and Armando. Shaeeda is an appropriate age for Bilal! Bilal has a house, a car, and cute kids! There’s no reason this shouldn’t be smooth sailing compared to the other couples. Then Bilal shows us every red flag in the book, and you realize this is going to be the season’s messiest couple.
Bilal has trust issues from his divorce. He thinks Shaeeda might just be using him for money, so he hasn’t shown her his car or home. Instead, he has decided to trick her by picking her up in a work van and taking her to his dilapidated childhood home that he quickly cleaned up with his sister. He says he likes pranks, but it’s clearly a test to see if Shaeeda will be grateful or disgusted. What it doesn’t take into consideration is Shaeeda’s feelings. Maybe she doesn’t want to be part of a prank after she left her family to come to a new country. Maybe she wants to know that you like her enough to at least borrow someone’s car to pick her up from the airport! We’ll have to wait until next week to see if this scheme pays off.
90 Day Notes
• I am counting down the days until we see Ari take that wineglass to the face.
• Emily has the nicest dad in the world! He is supporting the entire family!
• I also liked Jibri’s dad, who said something like, “It will be tough with three strong personalities in the house,” making it clear he is not one of those strong personalities.
• I hope we don’t have to put up with Jibri’s songs all season.
• Bilal’s “married in the eyes of God” stuff already feels kind of hypocritical. That’s your wife in God’s eyes, but you don’t trust her to see your car?
• Next week we meet the other two new couples: Yvette and Mohamed and Patrick and Thais. Maybe they’ll actually be in love!