You know how we’re all stuck inside with little to do? So does TLC and for the sake of new content—nothing more, nothing less—it is capitalizing on this moment with a new spin-off of its obsession-provoking franchise 90 Day Fiancé.
90 Day Fiancé: Self-Quarantined debuted Monday and featured self-captured updates from the well of schadenfreude fuel that makes up the show’s subjects. At times, like when Colt and his mother Debbie puttered around their kitchen, cooking and dancing amongst cats, it was so mundane that I could barely believe my eyes. It’s almost like the pandemic has infected the airwaves. Television is ailing.
And yet, the show was soothing in a slow-TV way. It was like a check-in with old friends who are mostly dull but nice to hear from nonetheless. I gasped when Danielle Jbali showed up on my screen and I nearly fell off my couch when she said she’s been in communication with Mohamed, her ex-husband that she threatened to get deported when they split.
The show felt a little bit more useful than a straight-up time-waster when it detailed the impact the pandemic and lockdowns have had on these people’s lives. Danielle risks her life to do her job working with people with developmental disabilities—she fears she’ll contract covid-19 and pass it to the full house of family members she lives with. But what can she do? She needs money. David briefly discussed the threats against his indefatigably chipper wife from Thailand, Annie, which came as a result of the recent uptick in anti-Asian racism.
But mostly it was just goofy, like when Annie confused the word “vagina” with pajamas.
Moldova’s finest, Andrei, spent the majority of his and his wife Elizabeth’s segment shirtless. He discussed how hot he is. If he were incorrect, I wouldn’t be posting this clip of him in the shower, talking about washing his ass.
The only storyline whose awkwardness approached the kind of discomfort that this show full of international mismatches typically pumps out was that of Cortney. You may remember her from Before the 90 Days when she flew to Spain to meet cheesecake model Antonio. Now she is holed up with a German gentleman named Andy. “I work with Andy because I’m the brand ambassador for his period cup company,” she explained.
Cortney’s tension with Andy is boiling. “I kind of hate him,” she whispered to the camera. A sequence showed them bickering about their status and she explained that every time they begin arguing, Andy turns off the camera.
This seems like hell. It’s a useful reminder that as annoying as self-quarantine is, it could always be worse. In that sense, 90 Day Fiancé: Self-Quarantined is quintessential reality TV.