Reality Bites: 90 Day Fiance

There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

I'm hearing a lot about how "traditional marriage" is under assault these days. At the forefront, apparently, are The Gays, who want to -- I don't know -- swish in and force those of us who were wed in a "legitimate" fashion (according to an antiquated ritual based upon a woman's historic role as chattel) to acknowledge their basic human rights. What assholes.

Does 90 Day Fiance represent a second front in the War on Marriage? On the surface, the couples here are under the gun to get hitched before the woman's (always the woman's) three-month K-1 visa runs out. In short, it's Green Card: The Reality Show, only played weirdly straight.

Could these people thrust together for clerical reasons actually, I don't know, *love* each other? Especially when, as Detective Rust Cohle tells us, love doesn't even exist?

The show follows four separate couples in their RACE AGAINST TIME to get married (seriously, there are onscreen countdowns and everything). First up are Cleveland's Mike and Aziza. The 21-year old Russian is upset at Mike for enjoying his bachelor party too much. Mike, forgetting centuries of bachelor party etiquette, mentions the girls who were hanging out with them at the bar but claims they were mere acquaintances. Aziza counters by telling him that was the only time he's ever allowed to get drunk.

Jeez, I know half your family probably died from vodka poisoning, but lighten up Franciskaya.

She also experiences some tension while dress shopping with Mike's mom, who is clearly thrilled at the prospect of her son marrying a girl she's never met at with almost no advance warning (what mom *wouldn't* be excited by that?). Anyway, they find a dress, everybody cries (women, right?). It's enough to make all in attendance forget the incredibly awkward circumstances. And the fact Aziza's parents were unable to obtain a visa to be at the wedding in person.

Alan and Kirlyam have -- whoa -- one day left before their wedding, and Alan hasn't even bought his ring yet. The best part is his listening to him rationalize to the jewelry salesman why they're hurrying things along. It isn't until later that we learn, since they're having a Mormon wedding (they met while he was on a missionary trip to Brazil), that they're saving themselves for marriage. Mystery solved.

Russ and Paola are in Tulsa and dealing with his demanding schedule (he works on an oil rig) as well as his jealousy issues. Colombian Paola, who dresses and talks like a slightly less annoying Sofia Vergara, appears for the moment to be devoted to her man. But Russ' insecurity, combined with his inability to put his foot down and get time off work to get married, seems to be driving Paola away. Good thing he won't have weeks at sea to obsess about it.

In fact, her initial choice of wedding dress (see above) might have led to an ugly situation. Luckily for Russ (and the assembled male population of Tulsa), the lingerie with benefits in question was over their budget.

Louis and Aya have almost two whole months before their wedding, but the Philippines native is upset because she feels like she's gotten too fat. Louis tries to reassure her by making fun of her friends (though I'm not sure derisively referring to the fact they all weigh 80 pounds was the way to go). He's honestly pretty sweet for a guy who looks like he just peeled himself away from a 16-hour Call of Duty session.

"Luckily," Louis' ex-wife(!) Tonya is still in the picture. She helps raise the kids and plays the crucial matrimonial role of the person who tells the bride to run like hell if she wants. Apparently over 20 people took on that job for my wife before our wedding. How thoughtful.

Because I arbitrarily choose these shows by hurling used syringes at a TV Guide, I didn't realize the season finale aired, like, directly after the Episode I Watched. Alan and Kirlyam did get hitched. however, and both appeared properly enthused, even if whoever's running the Skype session for Kirlyam's parents can't figure out how to maximize a window on Mac OS X (didn't we endure enough of this hardship watching webcam weddings in the Two Thousand Aughts?

The less said about their booze-less reception the better, though. I was also horrified amused to learn Alan and Kirlyam had to have chaperones while engaged. That Joseph Smith has a lot to answer for.

If I had to predict the likely outcomes of the relationships in question, they'd go like this:

Mike and Aziza - She flies into a rage and leaves Mike after coming home and finds him drinking during a Browns game, not realizing the only way to watch Cleveland play is by getting completely 'faced. Russ and Paola - Misunderstanding her furtiveness in planning his surprise birthday party, Mike hires a private detective to spy on Paola, who ends up sleeping with her. Alan and Kirlyam - The Brazilian belatedly realizes her mistake when Alan brings home a sister wife from Uruguay. Louis and Aya - In a misguided attempt to make Aya feel better, Louis gains a bunch of weight, unwittingly violating an obscure Filipino law saying no man can outweigh his spouse by more than 150 pounds. He's imprisoned upon their return to the islands and killed in jail by agents of Imelda Marcos.

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