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90 Day Fiancé brings intercultural marriages to light

by Emily Cortes

During quarantine times, we all have been binging TV and have more than likely seen the commentary and jokes regarding some of the outrages shows that have been released in the past month. One reality television star in particular, has gained huge amounts of fame due to his 4’11 stature and his rude remarks aimed at his girlfriend.

On TLC’s “90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days,” viewers get a look inside the intercultural relationships of Americans and their international partners and how two individuals with many differences can unite in a marriage. One of the show’s stand out stars, self proclaimed, “Big Ed” had met his girlfriend, Rose, on an online dating site. They had communicated for many months, until Ed had taken the trip to see Rose in her home village in the Philippines. 

When the two met at the airport for the first time, Rose was shocked by Ed’s height, since he had previously lied to her about it, and Ed was taken back by, what seemed to him, was Rose’s poor hygiene and worn out clothing. As the two began spending more time together, it becomes apparent that Rose is not particularly attracted to Ed, not just because of his appearance, but because of his arrogance and self entitlement. 

Many clips from these episodes have begun to circulate on social media websites, and the ratings for Ed are low, but the ones for Rose are very high because she brings a lot of personality to the show, and many audience members empathize with her. 

Aside from the internet jokes, people still refer back to this show and claim that the Americans in these relationships are gullible and foolish for falling in love with someone they met online, especially someone who lives in an underdeveloped country. These relationships seem like a ploy to obtain U.S. citizenship, and, truthfully, most of these relationships are. 

To western culture, this is seen as a dishonor to marriage–you’re supposed to date, fall in love, get engaged, have a big, white wedding and live out the American dream. To people who have been raised in other cultures, marriage is seen as a strategic move for social and financial advancements of a family. 

These online relationships that seem suspicious to westerners, in reality, are not suspicious at all. What makes them seem like unethical unions is simply the difference in culture, and the lack of understanding that westerners have for other cultures. 

The spouses who are not American don’t see anything wrong with finding a partner who is a U.S. citizen, typically somewhat wealthy, or at least wealthy enough to provide as the breadwinner for their family. Not only are they seeking a good provider, but they are looking for opportunities to advance their own careers in a country that offers a lot of opportunity that they would never otherwise get. 

Another common misconception about this reality TV series is that the people participating are  only doing this for their 15 minutes of fame. This is yet another misconception for a majority of the participants in these marriages. Most of the Americans on this show choose to display their interesting journey to love with the hopes of the show being a creditable platform on which to meet their significant other. 

Sometimes, online dating, as we all know, can result in someone getting “catfished,” they can be monetarily scammed, and sometimes, the meeting interactions can be dangerous or life threatening. To ensure that their spouse is in this for the right reasons, they have this documented and displayed, not always showing them in the best light, but protecting their hearts. 

The most difficult concept to understand and accept about these arrangements is the different ideals certain cultures have about marriage. Some cultures believe the notion that a successful marriage consists of two people who can advance themselves and provide for a family, a community, or their country. Most American marriages are held together on the basis of love–following your heart and not your head. The wedge between a couple like this is their different motivations for marriage. The only way a marriage can be successful is if the two individuals have one common motivation and goal, no matter what that goal may be, or what country they live in.

Emily Cortes can be reached at emily.cortes@spartans.ut.edu

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