By RODNEY HO/ email@example.com, originally filed Thursday, September 8, 2016
The concept of "90 Day Fiance" is irresistible for a network like TLC, which has never met a polygamist, little person or hoarder it didn't like.
On the show, various folks meet people overseas, get engaged and bring them to the United States on special K-1 visas. They must get married within 90 days for the foreigner to stay.
Obviously, the intrigue becomes immediate: are these couples really in love? Will they actually get married?
The fourth season debuting Sunday at 9 features five couples, one which includes 25-year-old Atlanta nursing student Chantel. (TLC refuses to provide full names. If anybody happens to know her, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. UPDATE: Her full name inevitably got out. It's Chantel Everett.)
Trying to learn Spanish, Chantel about two years ago met up with the very attractive Pedro from the Dominican Republic via the Web, courtesy of a mutual friend. He wanted to learn English so it was mutually beneficial. They quickly fell for each other, often using Google translation to communicate.
"He started complimenting me a lot, calling me amor," she said. "I liked it. I welcomed that behavior. He was really cute."
When she visited him in his home country, she felt instant chemistry. "We had a blast," she said. "It was like a honeymoon. When you're on a beach doing fun activities like that, love can definitely be enhanced."
On her third trip there, he proposed. Chantel, who is from a tight-knit family and still lives at home, understood her parents were skeptical.
"They were so worried about me as a female going overseas by myself," she said. "They were afraid I'd get kidnapped and never come back."
So after the engagement, Chantel chose not to tell her parents about the it and made up a story that he was coming to the states on a temporary student visa.
Once Pedro's visa was approved, she convinced her parents she was doing some other unnamed reality TV show to get them on camera. "They were so suspicious," she said.
"I'm a pretty open person," Chantel said. "I give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I give them a fair chance from the very beginning. He was nothing but lovable and sweet and just so caring."
She barely knew Spanish and he knew even less English (and didn't appear to try too hard to learn). Her rationale: "Sometimes, I feel like love has its own language. There are other ways to express love."
Chantel said she pitched herself to the show, thinking it might be fun to have their journey chronicled for a national audience. "I thought it would be an exciting experience," she said.
Having seen the first episode, she said TLC portrayed her situation accurately - including her scene at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, where she broke out in tears when she found out his connection flight in Florida was cancelled due to mechanical problems. He does make it to Atlanta the next day.
Are they still together? Did they get married? You'll have to watch the season to find out. But based on what she said, the signs are good.
"I am a hopeless romantic," she gushed. "Pedro is, too. We're two love-sick puppies."
And good news: her Spanish is improving."I am able to communicate with him more," she said. "We have more serious conversations now."
"90 Day Fiance," 9 p.m. Sunday, season 4 starting September 11, TLC