In September 2020 it was announced that Keeping Up With the Kardashians was ending after 14 years and 20 seasons. Meanwhile, a 90 Day Fiancé spin-off series—The Other Way, which follows Americans moving to a foreign country in the name of love—was the most-watched show on cable that week.
Unlike Keeping Up With the Kardashians, 90 Day Fiancé (and its many iterations) is a beacon of the anti-aspirational. There are no glamorous vacations or diamond earrings lost here—the stars of this TLC series are average Americans, often with financial woes, fighting to make a long-distance relationship with someone from another country work. Compared to Keeping Up, it feels like an overcorrection: Fueled by our pursuit for something real—the cigarette-pack-in-a-bra, fighting-with-your-mother-in-law kind of real—we’ve created a behemoth.
If you’re new to the sprawling world of 90 Day Fiancé, prepare yourself for a convoluted reality filled with family feuds, catfishing scams, and, sometimes, love. The first 90 Day Fiancé debuted in 2014 as a docuseries around the K-1 visa process, which allows Americans to bring their foreign partner to the United States as long as they marry within 90 days. The visa’s strict timeline worked in the show’s favor as a high-stakes element, and the show became a mega-hit. The second season premiered to 1.1. million same-day viewers, and that number has consistently continued to climb.
So TLC turned it into a dynasty. Picking up on viewers’ hunger for this kind of content, the network broadened the scope of the couples’ stories. Now cameras follow pre-proposal relationships in Before the 90 Days, while Happily Ever After chronicles life after the nuptials. Some of the franchise’s most dynamic stars have even gotten their own eponymous spin-offs. In just six years, one show has been spun into 11—two of which are set to debut on Facebook Watch this month.
With so many options available, which rise to the top? I spoke with fans and watched hours of the spin-offs to settle on a definitive ranking of every 90 Day Fiancé show. See the list, below.
9. 90 Day Fiancé: Self-Quarantine
Reality television is neither cerebral nor aspirational, for the most part. It’s escapism in its purest form, which is why most viewers didn’t need to watch how these dysfunctional families navigated the pandemic. Nearly everyone I asked cited this spin-off as last, with the occasional viewer offering some appreciation for Colt and Deb’s antics. Ultimately, though, living through a pandemic is bad enough—we don’t need to watch others suffer alongside us.
8. The Family Chantel
The Family Chantel’s plot line rests on the never-ending feud between the families of copule Pedro and Chantel, but the drama has been stretched out so much that the characters aren’t believable anymore and are so alarmingly devoid of humor or self-awareness that I can’t root for anyone. Even fans who like the family agree this spin-off falls flat. Belle, who runs the Instagram account @90DayFanatic, sums it up nicely: “a poorly written script for a great family.”
7. B90/HEA Strikes Back
Preemptively, I rated this show at the bottom of my list…but once I watched, I was surprisingly charmed. Strikes Back features the stars of Before the 90 Days and Happily Ever After as they watch and react to their own episodes. While Pillow Talk (see below) allows you to feel as though you’re indulging in trashy TV with some insider friends, Strikes Back delivers the juiciness of a reunion as the stars are forced to confront their mistakes, embarrassments, and horrible dance moves in real time.
6. Pillow Talk
Pillow Talk functions as an extension of the main shows and airs directly afterward. It features franchise stars watching and reacting to the current seasons of 90 Day Fiancé, Before the 90 Days, and Happily Ever After. I found in my research that audiences are split in terms of their affinity for it, hence the lower ranking. But if you’re craving a good TLC gossip session with friends, Pillow Talk will scratch that itch.
5. Darcey and Stacey
This spin-off features Darcey Silva, who first appeared on Before the 90 Days, and her twin sister, Stacey. The 40-somethings share a Connecticut McMansion, drive matching cars, and coordinate their plastic surgeries. Oh, and both have an affinity for eastern European men 20 years their junior. The first season of Darcey and Stacey spotlights Darcey’s budding romance with Georgi, a Bulgarian personal trainer, while Stacey prepares to marry her 26-year-old Albanian boyfriend, Florian (who, by the way, was recently caught cheating). While pathologically delusional, the twins are so earnest in their pursuit of a happy ending that you can’t help but love them.
4. What Now?
What Now? began as a digital-only equivalent to Happily Ever After?, a series that updates audiences on memorable couples from past seasons. Four seasons in, the two shows are basically the same…so when you’re deciding which spin-off to watch, consider choosing based on which of the two features more of your favorite couples. Or, follow my lead and indulge in both.
3. Happily Ever After?
Happily Ever After? premiered in 2016 and follows couples from various 90 Day Fiancé seasons and offers audiences a glimpse into life after the wedding. Was Danielle really a pawn in Mohammed’s green card scam? What happened during Russ and Paola’s move to Miami? The answers lie within. The show also allows us to follow our favorite couples throughout their years-long journeys as they build families, file for divorce, or sometimes both.
2. The Other Way
The general consensus from friends and experts I talked to, including self-proclaimed 90 Day addict Ashley Ray, ranks The Other Way as a strong contender for the top spot. The newer spin-off flips the script and follows Americans as they move abroad to marry. Naturally, chaos ensues as these people grapple with culture shock and acclimate to their new life. Other couples confront other obstacles like different views on religion. Brittany, who moves to Jordan, for example, is reticent to convert to Islam for her fiancé. This new framework makes for previously uncharted drama on 90 Days.
1. Before the 90 Days
For 90 Day Fiancé Instagrammer and superfan Hanekawa Dravon, Before the 90 Days tops the list. I agree. The show functions as a prequel series and typically sees the Americans travel abroad to spend time with their significant others, setting up a string of proposals. Without the stress of a wedding looming, audiences get more drama with fewer logistical struggles. And because the couples are still getting to know each other, “there is always a secret that comes out near the end of the season,” teases Dravon.
Rachel Ellison is a writer in Brooklyn whose work has appeared in Repeller, Bustle, and The Guardian. Follow her on Twitter @raychel_ellisun.
Originally Appeared on Glamour