Even before the season premiere, TLC showed us all Natalie’s tears as she packed her bags.
Somehow, even knowing all of that, viewers were stunned and horrified when Mike called off the wedding.
Part of the horror of the moment was that he ended things on his wedding day.
But some fans are suspicious or downright furious — and say that the whole thing was concocted by production.
First, let’s talk about exactly what happened with Mike Youngquist and Natalie Mordovtseva.
After months of tension, fights, and heel-dragging, the wedding day was nearly there.
Though COVID-19 meant that Natalie’s mother couldn’t come, they were to marry in a small ceremony by Mike’s mond.
On the night before the wedding, the last that we saw of Natalie and Mike was very positive.
Natalie was showering Mike with praise, petting him oddly but sweetly.
They seemed on much better terms … until we saw Natalie the next day.
The next day, a tearful, blubbering Natalie revealed that the wedding was off.
Mike had decided the morning off that he didn’t want to go through with it.
Natalie was heartbroken … and frankly, afraid.
Natalie was left to pack up her things.
She took weeks and weeks before she felt comfortable enough to unpack.
Then, through tears, she had to undo it all and somehow make it home to Ukraine.
Tamara, Mike’s neighbor, had already arrived to be one of the two non-production wedding guests.
She described how Mike and Natalie came outside in tears to announce that the wedding was off.
Tamara, who also cried at the news, was kind enough to offer Natalie a ride to the airport.
Natalie also had real fears about flying.
The COVID-19 pandemic was in its early days, and airplanes were (and are) not a great place to be.
On top of all of that, Ukraine’s borders were closed, so how could she get home anyway?
That was heartwrenching to watch and Natalie’s pain was clear.
It was also a moment that, as we mentioned, was teased all season long.
So why do people think that it was some kind of trick?
Because, well, the spoilers say that Natalie and Mike get married.
Though spoilers have claimed other things (that they have a baby, or are going through fertility treatments), there’s documented evidence that they did marry.
Which means that either that documentation was premature or in error … or they somehow came back from this messy split.
This is why people think that this was fake.
Mike and Natalie are returning stars. They know how the show works.
Some fans think that production asked them to fake a last-minute breakup for drama, and that they obliged.
Production on 90 Day Fiance is genuinely notorious for meddling, sometimes.
There are a few strategies that the show uses to get results.
Not all of them are necessarily dishonest, let alone unethical. Let’s take a look.
It starts with casting.
You cast a few people with genuine love stories or obvious uphill battles to be together.
After that, you cast the real stars — people with obvious conflicts or personality flaws that will make great, must-watch TV.
Up next is the actual filming, where production is more than just a spectator activity.
They ask questions, get stars to repeat themselves or even redo entire conversations, and sometimes suggest activities or topic.
In a few cases, production has even spoonfed specific questions in order to get the desired (genuine) reactions on camera.
Then of course is editing, the most notorious part of reality TV, where context goes to die.
Editing can do anything from a funny juxtaposition of two statements to a dishonest, hurtful merging of two scenes into one.
If you want to see how far apart some things are filmed, look at Rebecca’s confessional “hair journey” on any given episode this season.
Finally, there’s just the way that the business works.
Like on all other reality TV, the stars understand what they have to gain or to lose from being on the show.
So many of them will bring the drama or come up with their own conflicts purely in the hopes of sticking with the show.
But with all of that, there’s no script.
Anyone telling you that the show is “scripted” is either lying to you, lying to themselves, or speaking colloquially.
There are some very fake things about most reality TV, but nobody writes actual scripts for 90 Day Fiance.
So, Mike and Natalie had obviously different personalities and conflicts — both times that they were cast.
Editing can spice things up (and edit out tender moments in favor of showing more fights).
And between leading questions and the presence of production, it’s going to change things.
But was this a fake wedding day morning breakup just to make a splash?
No. And that kind of fakery would be unprecedented in 90 Day Fiance history.
Stars are more likely to be pressured to stay in a toxic relationship than encouraged to do a last-minute breakup.
Mike and Natalie wouldn’t (and frankly couldn’t) have faked this painful, heartbroken moment if they’d been asked to.
But also, let’s set all of that aside and just look at the claim that this was planned by production for what it is.
If production had set it up, wouldn’t they have been there to film the wedding getting called off? That’s common sense.
Now, if the reports about Mike and Natalie having gotten married anyway are true (and they likely are), that means that they reconciled.
It likely means that the two of them married one or two days after Natalie’s tearful explanation of the breakup was filmed.
We have no idea what could have changed to make them get back together. Pregnancy? A change of heart? We’ll have to watch and find out.
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