The Untold Truth Of 90 Day Fiance: Before The 90 Days

If you're even remotely into reality television, then you've definitely heard of TLC's "90 Day Fiancé," the show that documents Americans bringing their non-American, long-distance partners to the United States. The franchise has grown to include 11 different series that span over 30 seasons of content. One of those spinoffs is "90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days," which debuted in 2017. The show follows couples who live in different countries meeting in-person for the first time. The premise is simple: An American who has fallen in love with someone overseas — usually over the internet — travels to their partner's home country to get to know them and decide if they even want to get engaged or married and bring their partner back home to the States.

The end result is an addictive reality show rife with the best aspects of drama and comedy alike. The couples, who sometimes have large age gaps and seemingly nothing in common, can come off as slightly ridiculous: TLC president Howard Lee told Vanity Fair of the "90 Day" franchise, "The couples are often deeply, deeply in love. The tension normally begins when they don't understand why everybody around them does not understand that love." This tension, of course, makes for excellent television, especially as these couples are meeting for the first time. Keep reading to find out more about one of the most popular reality shows on TV.

Before the 90 Days draws in big viewership numbers

"90 Day Fiancé" was already a pretty popular show when TLC decided to give it its second spinoff, which was, of course, "90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days." (The first was "90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After?" in case you were wondering.) But it's fair to say that "Before the 90 Days" (also known as "B90") is one of the brightest stars in the "90 Day" constellation. According to The Wrap, the premiere of "B90" Season 4 in February 2020 drew in 3.3 million viewers! Deadline reported that the season continued to hit ratings highs throughout its run, proving that "B90" fans are a dedicated bunch.

TLC president Howard Lee said, "Our audiences at TLC are obsessed with '90 Day Fiancé' and its spinoffs ... 'Before the 90 Days' is our 'fish out of water' series in the franchise and our fans go nuts seeing these people risk it all for love" (per The Wrap).

Some of the couples are still together, but others ... not so much

"90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days" is a show that focuses on several couples' stories every single season. So, how many are still together? While "90 Day Fiancé" boasts more success stories (the couples on that show are already in the visa process, after all), "Before the 90 Days" sees couples meeting for the first time, when the relationships are still fairly new, so it makes sense that fewer couples have stayed together.

That's not to say "B90" doesn't have its own success stories. According to Us Weekly, Season 1's Larry and Jenny got married, as did Paul and Karine — though In Touch reported that the latter pair were headed for divorce in late 2021, so it's unclear what their actual status is. Season 2's Jon and Rachel got married and seem to be going strong, but two other couples from their season, Tarik and Hazel and Angela and Michael, have been surrounded by breakup rumors. Season 3's Avery and Omar, Rebecca and Zied, and Benjamin and Akinyi are all apparently still together, but Season 4 had no couples that lasted other than Varya and Geoffrey, who are rumored to have gotten back together, even in the face of his 18-year prison sentence. 

"Before the 90 Days" fans will have to wait to see what happens to the current roundup of couples featured in Season 5, which is currently airing on TLC.

Cast members tell different stories about whether the show is real or overly produced

Like any reality show, rumors have swirled about how "real" "Before the 90 Days" actually is. The cast members themselves seem to have had different experiences on the show. According to In Touch, Season 5's Ben Rathbun revealed, "It is very real," in an Instagram Q&A, while Season 4 star Erika Owens posted a TikTok in which she addressed questions people had about her time on the show. "Nope, it's real," she responded when asked if the show was scripted.

Perhaps one of the most dramatic moments from Season 4 revolved around Geoffrey Paschel and his Russian love interest, Varya Malina. After rejecting Geoffrey's proposal when he was in Russia, she flew to his native Tennessee to see him — and came face to face with his new girlfriend, Mary. Varya denied that the confrontation was scripted, saying in a video on her YouTube channel, "Neither Geoffrey nor Mary were mic'd, and nobody [knew] what was coming. It was a total surprise for all of us."

Meanwhile, Season 4's Avery Warner wrote on Instagram (via In Touch), "Can't always believe what you see on TV. You guys get 5% of the real story, and that's constructed how the network wants the people to view the person." Looks like the jury's still out about what's real and what's not on "Before the 90 Days."

The show has had to deal with controversial cast members

Like any reality show, "90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days" is no stranger to controversial cast members. For example, Season 5's Alina Kozhevnikova came under fire after racist posts from her past resurfaced, leading TLC to fire her — essentially barring her from participating in the season's tell-all or any spinoffs, according to E! News. Questionable posts from fellow Season 5 star Mike Berk's past have also started to resurface, though this has yet to be addressed by TLC as of this writing.

Controversial stars are not unique to Season 5. Season 4's Big Ed Brown has faced allegations of sexual assault that have not been addressed by TLC. Fans have also expressed frustration at the way Season 2's Angela Deem treats husband Michael, going so far as to circulate a petition advocating for her removal from TLC's franchise — and that's not even mentioning her 2018 DUI arrest. Usman Umar revealed that his ex-wife Lisa had called him the N-word (via Cheat Sheet), and she subsequently stopped appearing in "B90 Strikes Back" — yes, yet another spinoff. Usman's latest love interest, Kim Menzies, also came under fire for reportedly attempting to manipulate him into having sex with her in Season 5, as Cinema Blend reported.

Though "Before the 90 Days" fans live for the drama, some of these cast members' scandals go into truly problematic territory.

Some cast members have criminal records

In addition to dealing with the controversial actions of some cast members, "Before the 90 Days" is no stranger to casting people with criminal histories — and in one case, ongoing allegations that led to some pretty serious consequences.

In Season 4, "Before the 90 Days" viewers saw Geoffrey Paschel struggle with coming clean about his previous criminal record to his girlfriend, Varya Malina. She eventually accepted his past, which included drug possession charges and almost two years of prison time. But unbeknownst to Varya, Geoffrey would soon become embroiled in some much more severe charges. According to People, in February 2022, Geoffrey was sentenced to 18 years in prison for "aggravated kidnapping, domestic assault, and interference with emergency calls" in regards to a June 2019 incident with his ex-fiancée (not Varya). Geoffrey and Varya are rumored to still be together, and according to ScreenRant, she supported him on social media during the trial and sentencing.

Season 1 found Paul Staehle hiding his own criminal past from his then-girlfriend, Karine (via In Touch). Paul was convicted of second-degree arson. When he finally did come clean, Karine was able to come to terms with his past, and the pair got married. Season 2's Jon Walters had a similar experience, in which he had to admit to his now-wife, Rachel, the truth about his criminal record, which was mostly comprised of assault charges. She also accepted his past, and the two still appear to be together.

Did a 90 Day Fiance star inspire Before the 90 Days?

The premise of the original "90 Day Fiancé" series was to follow couples in the process of uniting in the United States on a K-1 visa for the non-American partner — which stipulates that the couple must get married within 90 days, or else the non-American gets deported. So where did the idea to follow couples before the K-1 process come from? The exact origins of the "Before the 90 Days" spinoff are unclear, but it's possible a particular "90 Day Fiancé" star was the inspiration.

David Toborowsky was an American man living in Asia when he met his future wife, Annie Suwan. When they became engaged, David decided to apply to be casted on "90 Day Fiancé," even though they didn't know if they would even get the K-1 visa. As such, David and Annie's story was filmed in Thailand, rather than in America like all the other couples' stories that had previously been featured on "90 Day Fiancé."

Dan Adler, a "90 Day" executive producer, told Glamour, "Annie [Suwan] was our first international story. She was like the OG 'Before the 90 Days' ... We were over there [in Thailand] trying to follow the story of her and David [which we hadn't done before]. And there was so much fish-out-of-water stuff with David." Given Annie and David's popularity with fans — they now have their own spinoff show that follows their life as a married couple — it's very possible their unique story set the ball rolling for "Before the 90 Days."

Cast members don't get paid a ton

Though "Before the 90 Days" brings in big viewership for TLC, the cast members don't actually get paid that much.

Newsweek reported that "Before the 90 Days" couples allegedly earn about $500 per episode; split between two people, that's just $250 per person to share huge relationship milestones and intimate moments on national television. Distractify offered a slightly different version of events, noting that "B90" couples make somewhere between $500 to $1,000 per episode — either way, it doesn't seem like participating couples rake in the big bucks when they share their lives with the world. Sources have differing accounts of whether supporting cast members (like family and friends) get paid at all: some sources say it's $250 per day, but others say they get zilch.

While the sources don't specify how much "Before the 90 Days" cast members get paid to take part in the tell-all specials at the end of every season, "90 Day Fiancé" reportedly pays $2,500 for the tell-all, so it's possible the "B90" tell-all special offers a similar paycheck.

Before the 90 Days stars often go on to star in other spinoffs

"Before the 90 Days" is just one spinoff of "90 Day Fiancé" out of many, and the rest of the "90 Day" franchise provides ample opportunities for many of the "Before the 90 Days" stars. The "Pillow Talk" series is one spinoff that essentially provides viewers with a replay of "90 Day" shows, with fun commentary thrown in from previous cast members across the "90 Day" franchise. Tim Malcolm and Veronica Rodriguez, who appeared in Season 3 of "Before the 90 Days," are two "Pillow Talk" favorites (via Screen Rant).

Another spinoff that features former "Before the 90 Days" stars is "90 Day Fiancé: The Single Life." True to its name, this show follows people whose "90 Day" relationships didn't work out, and includes plenty of "B90" stars, like Season 1 and 2's Jesse Meester, Season 3's Jeniffer Tarazona, and Season 4's Stephanie Matto and Big Ed Brown. 

Finally, "Before the 90 Days" Season 1 and 2 star Darcey Silva secured her own TLC show centered around herself and twin sister Stacey Silva, aptly titled "Darcey and Stacey."

Before the 90 Days stars have gone on to have ... interesting careers

While some "Before the 90 Days" have gone on to appear in many of the "90 Day" spinoffs, others have also leveraged their reality TV fame to support some unique endeavors. Season 4's Stephanie Matto, who, admittedly, had an online following even before her TV debut, took advantage of her new level of fame to launch a couple of her own businesses. The first, called Unfiltrd, is her own version of OnlyFans, as Screen Rant noted. (Reportedly, Season 5's Ximena has already joined, though the season is still airing.)

Stephanie's second business is far more attention-grabbing, thanks to the sheer wackiness of the premise: She claimed she was making six figures by selling her farts in jars. Her industriousness landed her in the headlines when she had to be hospitalized because of chest pains. When she received medical attention, she said (via the New York Post), "It was made clear that what I was experiencing wasn't a stroke or heart attack but very intense gas pains," thanks to her diet of beans and protein shakes to encourage flatulence. Thanks to her health scare, she retired from the jarred farts business. We're just really gassed to see what her next venture will be!

Some of the cast members are repeat participants

You might think that after failing to find love abroad (while a film crew documents the whole thing) the first time, most people would give up. But a few "Before the 90 Days" cast members are actually repeat participants.

Darcey Silva, who now has her own TLC show with twin sister Stacey Silva, made her TLC debut in the first two seasons of "Before the 90 Days" with her then-boyfriend Jesse Meester, who is from the Netherlands. Darcey and Jesse didn't work out — but it was far from the last time "B90" fans would see her. She appeared again in Seasons 3 and 4, this time with her British boyfriend Tom Brooks. That relationship also didn't work out, but it did help Darcey become a TLC staple.

Another familiar face is Season 4 and 5's Usman Umar. While Season 5 follows the aspiring Nigerian rapper (stage name Sojaboy) and his journey with Kimberly Menzies, viewers were originally introduced to him in Season 4, when he was dating (and married to!) Lisa Hamme (aka Babygirl Lisa), as noted by Screen Rant. Though his first "90 Day" marriage ended in divorce, it didn't stop Usman from giving it another try with Kim. We have to respect the dedication.

TLC doesn't pair up the couples

While many other reality shows about dating and relationships, like "The Bachelor" and "Love Is Blind" focus on setting people up together, the "90 Day Fiancé" franchise focuses on couples that are already genuinely together.

Screen Rant shared the official "90 Day Fiancé" casting Instagram account's open call for applicants for the next season of "Before the 90 Days." The post asked people if they were "finally ready to meet the long distance love of [their] life for the very first time," encouraging them to apply to be on the show.

Once the applications are in, the rest of the casting process for the "90 Day" franchise is an extensive interview process where the producers look for authenticity. "We always wanted this to be a super-authentic, warts and all, look at love in this amazing world," producer and creator Matt Sharp said on the podcast "Reality Life with Kate Casey" (via E! News). It certainly seems as though the casting process works in finding incredibly interesting people for "B90" fans to follow season after season.

The filming schedule is grueling

Many cast members from the original "90 Day Fiancé" series have noted that the filming hours are long, and the same seems to be the case for "Before the 90 Days." Season 4's David Murphey noted that he had been "filming 12-hour days" when he went to Ukraine to try to meet his online love interest, Lana — which explained, according to him, why he looked so much older than he actually was on the show, according to Screen Rant.

"Before the 90 Days" Season 1 and 2 star Jesse Meester confirmed that filming can take place all day. "We film for a lot of hours a day, sometimes 12 hours," he told podcaster Kate Casey (via E! News).

Furthermore, Season 3 and 4 cast member Tom Brooks spilled about the season finale tell-all episode, which apparently took 28 hours to film (via Cheat Sheet). With that kind of chaotic filming schedule, we can see why some "Before the 90 Days" stars often appear to be on their worst behavior.

Each season ends with a tell-all that can get heated

At the end of each season of "Before the 90 Days," many of the cast members are invited to participate in the tell-all special, hosted by former "Access Hollywood" host Shaun Robinson — and it never fails to deliver in the drama department. Though IMDb shows Seasons 1 and 2 only featured one tell-all episode, Seasons 3 and 4 had two-part tell-all specials, so it's likely fans will get a double feature for Season 5 as well.

Season 4's tell-all definitely had some jaw-dropping moments. Darcey Silva's ex Tom Brooks admitted to asking out his co-stars Avery Warner and Stephanie Matto, as noted by Entertainment Tonight. "Babygirl" Lisa Hamme and Big Ed Brown got into a pretty explosive fight, with Big Ed criticizing Lisa's treatment of her then-husband Usman Umar and Lisa bringing up former harassment allegations against Big Ed. And all of the couples had harsh words for each other, according to TV Insider, sometimes resulting in waterworks.

And it's clear that people love the tell-all episodes. The Season 4 tell-all was the No. 1 show in America the week it aired, according to Vulture. Considering how dedicated "B90" fans are, future tell-all specials just might break that record.