Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Is 90 Day Fiancé Staged?

"90 Day Fiancé" thrives on drama, and it's delivered its fair share of shocking moments in its nearly nine years on TLC. But every now and then, fans wonder if all that drama is real. After all, many couples from the show have split up since they first captured fans' hearts, which has made fans wonder if the relationships were ever solid to begin with.

The series debuted in 2014 and documents the lives of couples who have received or at least applied for a K-1 visa, which gives foreign fiancés of U.S. citizens just 90 days to marry their American beloveds. But now, after nine seasons, eighteen spinoffs, and piles of marital strife, cast members from the extended "90 Day Fiancé" Universe, or "90 Day Universe," are speaking out more about whether or not the show's concept is based on a lie. 

There's also a slight discrepancy between the accounts of cast members who already got their paychecks and those who are still working for the show.

Deavan Clegg's relationship was 96% fake

Of the cast members who maintain the artificiality of the show, "90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way" star Deavan Clegg stands out. Clegg appeared in Seasons 1 and 2 of the show and eventually moved to South Korea, where she could be with her new husband, Jihoon Lee. But in May 2022, Clegg claimed that her arc in Season 1 was "96% fake." In the dramatic storyline, Clegg met Jihoon on a dating app and became pregnant with his child after her first meeting with him.

In a since-expired Instagram story, Clegg explained that she never actually moved to Korea in Season 1, as the show depicted — though she did move there later. She also contested that she never actually loved Jihoon to begin with. "If you want me to be [100%] honest, I don't think there was a romantic connection to begin with," she claimed. "We both felt this way and had talked about it several times."

She then went on to say, "We did everything for the show because he had debts and I had medical bills to pay. When I moved there, we never slept in the same bed and faked it for YouTube and the show."

She also confirmed that even after she decided to split up with Jihoon, she continued to film the show with him. And she's not the only cast member to make such claims.

Chris Thieneman was peer-pressured into creating drama

One of the franchise's most cringe-inducing moments involved Chris Thieneman, who appeared on Season 5 of "90 Day Fiancé" with his friend David Toborowsky. After Thieneman invited Toborowsky and his fiancée Annie Suwan to move in with them and save money, Thieneman shocked his wife Nikki by asking Suwan for a massage ... right in front of her ... at the dinner table.

But shortly after appearing on the show, the couple shared a video on YouTube in which they shared the truth about the moment. In the video, Thieneman claimed that "90 Day Fiancé" is "absolutely" scripted," adding that "some of it is real and then teased with and added to."

But then he went on to explain that he never asked Suwan for a massage in the first run-through of filming that dinner scene. "The first scene, the original scene I never asked for a massage," he said. "Not until Adrienne, the director, encouraged me to say it in front of the whole cast and crew did I let a little peer pressure set in."

Of course, other "90 Day Universe" cast members, such as Ben Rathbun, have denied claims that "90 Day Fiancé" is fake. But in light of Deavan Clegg's explanation of the show's payout system (that is, "90 Day Fiancé" cast members don't receive paychecks until filming is over), it's worth noting that Rathbun was still appearing on the show — and likely still ingratiating himself with producers — when he made that claim.

Though a Season 10 of "90 Day Fiancé" has not been officially confirmed, the show's spinoff, "90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After?" is currently airing Season 7 on TLC.