Despite going by the moniker of reality TV, most of TLC’s hyper-aggrandized programming is far from real. Sure, there are definitely a few kernels of truth in shows like My 600 Pound Life and Say Yes to the Dress, but a substantial amount of what is presented to the viewer has been fed through a filter of drama and overproduction.
That isn’t to say that everything TLC and its production partner Sharp Entertainment have done is terrible. Most of their work accomplishes what it sets out to do — entertain. Were it presented a bit more straight-faced, very few viewers would tune in to see the daily lives of people like Jinger Duggar or Theresa Caputo. We would much rather watch the work of an unseen producer represented on the screen.
The network’s highly popular 90 Day Fiancé and its spinoffs have long been criticized for their extremely dramatized portrayals, and former cast members have even attempted to sue TLC over their on-screen representations. If a narrative doesn’t present itself in real life, then behind-the-scenes TLC crew members will need to write one themselves. With that in mind, there have certainly been more than a few genuine moments on the show. These are real people, after all, and their real thoughts and emotions definitely shine through from time to time.
From on-screen tyrades to hilariously awkward moments, here are the 10 Times 90 Day Fiancé Was Fake (And 10 Times It Was Too Real).
20 Fake: Chris Asks Annie for a Massage
David was a down-on-his-luck 49 year old man when his life was forever changed after he crossed paths with Annie during a trip to Thailand. Though the couple quickly made plans to marry, they were faced with a difficult obstacle: they were totally broke. Fortunately, his friend Chris Thienenman allowed the couple to stay with him… at a cost.
During a rooftop dinner, Chris creepily asked Annie to give him a poolside massage, and she was reluctant. The good news is that this whole scene was set up by the show’s producers, and Chris, after seeing the episode, realized that it made him sound like a total sleaze and wished he wouldn’t have done it.
19 Real: Paul Tries to Run from his Past
Paul Staehle is perhaps one of the most infamous pseudo-celebrities to ever agree to appear on TLC’s 90 Day Fiancé. Everything he does is weird, and his strange persona and off putting mannerisms would definitely have put a strain on any normal relationship.
Though many have accused him of joining the show for publicity, his brief freakout after he told Karine about his criminal background was all too real. Once he admitted to being an ex-arsonist, he tried to run away from both his fiancé and the TLC camera crew, scampering up a small hill in meme-worthy fashion. There are a lot of odd customers on the show, but Paul probably takes the cake.
18 Fake: Why is she Sitting Like That?
This has long been a point of contention among 90 Day Fiancé viewers, but the positions in which star Anfisa Arkhipchenko sits during the show’s cut-away interviews seem anything but natural.
Hunched over with legs awkwardly up in the air, it’s hard to believe that she would be willing to hold that pose for more than a few seconds at a time. Some have posited that she does it to accentuate her chest, but closer inspection reveals that almost all female cast members are made to adopt this dumb position. It’s something mandated by the show’s producers, and it’s totally artificial.
17 Real: Darcy Loses Control
Plenty of fans were left questioning cupid after watching the antics of the notoriously dysfunctional pairing of Jesse Meester and Darcey Silva. Things got off to a bad start when Jesse believed himself to have fallen victim to a catfishing scam because the pictures Darcey posted online were decades old, and things only got worse from there.
At some point during their saga, Jesse made an attempt to put together a romantic night in for the two. Instead of playing along, however, Darcey had a beverage or two and ruined the whole thing with a hilariously-awkward high five. If this was scripted, then Darcey is a Decaprio-caliber actress.
16 Fake: Tying the Knot… From a Distance
The relationship between Danielle and Mohamed was fairly obviously fake; while Danielle may have had genuine feelings for her fiancé, it clearly wasn’t mutual. Mohamed made tons of excuses and really didn’t seem interested in a woman more than ten years his senior, yet, the two decided to tie the knot anyway.
Not only was Danielle apparently late for her own wedding, but Mohamed refused to kiss her after they said “I do.” Though he claimed it was for religious reasons, it was pretty clearly borne of his disinterest in his wife. While the scene was real, his intentions weren’t, and Mohamed packed up and left for Florida shortly after the wedding.
15 Real: Michael is Coming to America
As was the case with many relationships featured on TLC’s 90 Day Fiancé, the romance between Angela and Michael often felt strained or faked. The vast cultural gap between a suburban woman from the US and a man from Nigeria would be tough for anyone to push past, but they seemed to make it work, at least for a little while.
Shortly after Michael proposed, Angela presented him with a US flag and told him that he was headed for the country. Much of this couple’s relationship felt false, but Michael’s intense joy in that moment was very real.
14 Fake: Anfisa’s Modeling Career
When it comes to dysfunctional 90 Day Fiancé couples, Jorge and Anfisa are easily in the running for the top spot. Very rarely did the relationship appear to be genuine, and Anfisa’s intense desire for money and material gifts made her love for Jorge come across as totally impure.
What’s worse is that, before making the trip to the US, Anfisa billed herself as a model. Though TLC never quite admitted to any details, Jorge later stated that she was actually a model of a different, decidedly more adult kind. Things have only gotten worse as, in August of 2018, Jorge was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for trafficking illegal substances.
13 Real: River and Pedro Duke It Out
In a modern approximation of Shakespeare’s famous play Romeo and Juliet, the families of 90 Day Fiancé couple Chantel and Pedro never saw eye to eye. Multiple family dinners have been ruined, and a special mention needs to go to the squabble over Pedro’s chicken feet delicacy, but the worst of it came when Chantel’s brother River outright fought Pedro atop the family dinner table.
Though it sounds too bizarre to actually have taken place, the cameraman who filmed the scene later confirmed that it was an organic — and extremely heated — moment. Rushed relationships have often strained the families of 90 Day Fiancé couples, but this altercation took things to a new extreme.
12 Fake: Chantel’s Name
As if the negatively charged atmosphere surrounding Chantel and Pedro’s relationship wasn’t enough, fans of the show have long speculated that Chantel isn’t actually her real name. While plenty of ex-stars have been accused of joining the show purely to get their fifteen minutes of fame, Chantel seems to have held an interest in concealing her identity somewhat.
In fact, news eventually broke that her real name was actually CeAir. Given that this isn’t even close to a common name, she may have elected to call herself something more ubiquitous to avoid confusion. Unfortunately, her credibility was already on thin ice, and this definitely didn’t help the matter.
11 Real: Keeping Nicole at Arm’s Length
It’s no secret that, though Nicole was clearly passionate about her fiancé, the feeling wasn’t exactly mutual. Azan warned Nicole during her visit to his home country of Morocco that most displays of affection weren’t socially acceptable in public, but she just couldn’t get the message. This culminated in a horribly awkward scene in which she wanted a hug that Azan just wasn’t willing to give her.
Though the scene may have been slightly aggrandized, Azan’s feelings and motives were certainly genuine. Such displays of affection aren’t tolerated in Morocco, and Nicole’s boyfriend was totally right to want to hold off. It was all a little too real, and it was sort of hard to watch.
10 Fake: Chris and David’s Friendship
Chris and David’s relationship wasn’t necessarily fake, but it was a bit hard to believe that he was so willing to open his house to his buddy and his foreign girlfriend out of the blue. The truth of the matter is that, though Chris may be a giving guy to begin with, he was approached by the network to help form a more compelling narrative.
We have previously discussed how fake his massage proposal was, but just about every scene like that has been overproduced by a network eager to cook up some drama. While this applies to many friendships featured on TLC, Chris certainly wouldn’t have been quite so generous were it not for Sharp Entertainment’s role.
9 Real: Anfisa’s Over-the-phone Freakout
All soon-to-be-wed couples would be wise to clear up some legal things before heading to the altar, so Jorge and Anfisa were entirely in the right when they met with lawyers to strike a deal on a postnuptial agreement. Unfortunately, according to Jorge, Anfisa wanted it to be heavily in her favor, which prompted her fiancé to meet with his lawyers privately to straighten some things out behind the scenes.
When Anfisa found out that Jorge was gone, she called him and screamed at him to come back home. Her over-the-phone temper-tantrum was legendary and cemented her status in the minds of fans as an over-the-top, crazy personality.
8 Fake: Jay and Ashley’s Storyline
There have been plenty of fraudulent couples featured on 90 Day Fiancé, but Jay and Ashley may just be the least honest pair in the history of the show. The dust is still settling with this story, but it seems like the two broke up well before the show entered its production cycle, but they decided to stick with it anyway.
Everything portrayed in their segments was entirely fake, and the couple was never actually dating when the cameras were rolling. Worse, they actually staged a fake wedding and had fans believing that they actually tied the knot. Outlandish behavior like this isn’t foreign to any of TLC’s programs, but dishonesty of this nature may eventually hurt the already faltering credibility of the show in the long run.
7 Real: Mark and Nikki’s Car Window Debacle
Nikki had only been in the US for a few hours when she and Mark got into their first argument. Though it was played off as a joke, we could see the disappointment in Mark’s face from the get-go.
As the two were leaving the Baltimore airport, Nikki brushed her hand against the passenger-side window of Mark’s car, which prompted him to scold her for smudging it. In one of the most comical moves in the show’s history, Nikki immediately slammed her palm against the window and giggled. Mark laughed it off, but clearly wasn’t very happy. Things went downhill from there, and, unfortunately, this scenario was all too real.
6 Fake: Jorge’s Business
We know that Anfisa’s career may be little more than smoke and mirrors, but it just so happens that neither partner had been entirely up front about their jobs. Jorge introduced himself as a licensed dealer of a substance that, while legal in an increasing number of states, is still federally illegal in the US.
Though this would have been plausible, it seems strange that he was later busted by the police for trafficking a large amount of said substance. Were he a legitimate businessman, he would either have had a legitimate reason to do what he did or have had access to a more secure method of product transportation. Something doesn’t add up here, and Jorge was later sentenced to two and a half years in jail as a result of his questionably legal dealings.
5 Real: The Chicken Foot Fiasco
Cultural diaspora can often hurt a relationship, and nowhere was this more evident in the lives of Chantel and Pedro than during her family’s trip to visit her boyfriend in the Dominican Republic. Many cultures take familial gatherings rather seriously, and Pedro clearly wasn’t too pleased to hear Chantel’s mother making excuses and trying to get out the door as soon as possible.
Things got even worse when Pedro plopped a platter of chicken feet in front of her, which she declined for religious reasons. The whole event spiraled out of control, and it was yet another major hiccup in the lives of both Chantel and her fiancé. This was definitely the kind of strife that the network couldn’t script themselves.
4 Fake: Paul and Karine’s Speech-to-text Translations
Not only is it weird to forge a relationship based entirely on machine-translated speech, but fans have long questioned the authenticity of the translations presented on-screen. Anyone familiar with most translation programs will understand that they are usually hit-and-miss at best, and certain sayings and words simply don’t come through in other languages.
That said, whatever app Paul and Karine used seems to be spot-on nearly all of time time, and that’s because the transcripts the audience is shown are fake. They have been audited by TLC and don’t reflect what actually passed between the two. Either Paul needs to learn the language of Portugal, or Karine needs to take a few English classes.
3 Real: Azan Wanted Nicole to Join a Gym
Azan was obviously displeased with Nicole from the moment the two first met face-to-face, though he seemed willing to overcome his doubts and continue with the relationship. Things didn’t progress all that well, of course, and rising tensions between the two came to a head when Azan insisted that Nicole start monitoring her health and join a gym.
While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with keeping fit, Nicole was starkly against it and insisted that Azan was trying to change her. This altercation, along with Azan’s general disappointment with Nicole, was all too real, and this relationship clearly wasn’t going to blossom unless Azan had a miraculous change of heart.
2 Fake: Terik and Hazel’s Tell All
Few 90 Day Fiancé fans bought into the authenticity of Hazel and Terik’s relationship. The couple came off as ridiculously phony most of the time, and Hazel eventually admitted during her tell-all episode that she was mostly in it for the money and the chance to begin a new life in the US.
After that, Terik took to Instagram and put up a bunch of cryptic posts and videos advising his fans to stay away from fake and duplicitous people. He clearly wasn’t happy with the way he was portrayed on the show, and it just goes to show how totally fake couples on 90 Day Fiancé can sometimes be.
1 Real: Paul Goes for a Swim
Paul Staehle is probably the strangest character to ever grace TLC’s 90 Day Fiancé. He’s a weird guy through-and-through, and nothing exemplified that more than that time he wore two life jackets and took a bunch of unnecessary precautions before going swimming with Karine in her home country of Brazil.
After relaying to the audience in a cut-away interview that he expected his girlfriend to take a bunch of STD and pregnancy tests, he timidly slunk into the water after putting on, in addition to the life jackets, athletic pants and — of all things — a contraceptive. While taking precautions during travel is always the right thing to do, Paul took things to a creepy and unnecessary degree here, and we almost felt bad for Karine as we watched her boyfriend squirm around in the water.
Are there any other moments in TLC's 90 Day Fiancé that were obviously fake or real? Let us know in the comments!