Film & TV, Socialization, Travel
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The Problem with 90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way’s Big Ed

I remember the scene that hooked me on 90 Day Fiancé a few years ago. My mother kept insisting I watch the show. With my propensity for dating foreign men, she told me the concept over and over again but it wasn’t until I walked into her bedroom and overheard Luis chastising Molly about her brujeria and Molly screaming in bewilderment, was I hooked. Luis probably used Molly for a green card. I’d heard of “green card marriages,” even knew one or two and as a reality tv junkie whose business is in travel, I am even able to take Sharp Entertainment’s portrayal of the “dodgy foreigner” with a grain of salt.

Upon hearing that my partner is Italian, many people ask if I’ve seen the show. Believe it or not, it the same thing that has many transfixed on the relationship between Meghan and Harry, curious about mine, Loren and Alexei, Tom and Rachel. Love is hard enough without factoring in oceans away, completely different cultures and lifestyles. So for seasons and spin offs, I was entertained by the revolving cast of characters in the 90 Day universe, but for some reason, this season, I found myself catching it on streaming more and more. The problem is Big Ed.

Nneya and Michele smiling on steps in West London with beautiful columned town houses in the back
me and my “90 Day Fiancé” in West London

Despite delayed tuning in this season and watching passively, Big Ed, Ed Brown, all 4’11” of him and his relationship with Rosemarie has infiltrated pop culture. His sycophants range from the average anonymous person on social media to Chrissy Teigen, Tori Spelling and Heather McDonald. I’m a fan of these women so I find this even more disappointing. Chatting with my friend Tia, I sussed out the root of my problem with Big Ed, why I finished 90 Day episodes disgusted at having watched him. He boils down to a sex tourist and he’s how PC culture can go the extremely wrong way.

Big Ed has said he suffers from a a rare genetic defect called Klippel-Feil syndrome. This is a condition where two bones in the neck are fused together. This is really unfortunate and in the initial episodes, I was happy to see that he was thriving in his career, friends, family. Due to his condition, Big Ed revealed that he has been bullied all of his life. I started on team Big Ed…. Even as we saw his disconcerting relationship with his daughter when she didn’t say what he wanted to hear. Even learning of the large age gap between he and Rose.

rose and big Ed shopping in Manila streets
Rose and Big Ed shopping in the Phillipines

But Big Ed is white privilege personified. Everything people think is wrong with Americans. On 90 Day Fiancé we’re used to see age differences all over the board and power dynamics off. We’re especially used to seeing this with white older American men and women overseas in impoverished areas. We love David & Annie, we love Akinyi & Benjamin, we even love Angela and Michael despite LOTS of problematic power dynamics. From Jay and Ashley we learned Jamaica has its share of f*boys like anywhere else. This show has taught us different forms of love that aren’t so foreign if we take a closer look at ourselves. Love in the form of stability, love towards someone who can build a home, can mean just as much as romantic love. It can substitute for sexual attraction.

But the problem with big Ed is that he knowingly lied to Rose. First, about his height — no big deal — then made an excuse re: not trusting her about her sister asking him for money, the STD test that’s not good enough for him to take, shaving her legs, giving her a toothbrush…. The list of disgusting offenses go on! But that STD test though….

Doesn’t that sound like something a typical sex tourist would do? You’ve been bullied your entire life so you bully and verbally abuse a woman from overseas. All while under the guise of the “nice guy,” that Chrissy Teigen may have fell for. He berates her in whatever way he can, all the while knowing — as he admits to his mother — that he had no intentions of committing to her and her child because at his ripe old age of 54, 31 years her senior, he didn’t want to start over. That’s completely fine, and actually understandable, but it seems like Ed knew this going in and was not clear to Rosemarie.

Dare I say that if Ed was a man of say 5’11” the attention would be wildly different. Predatory behavior comes in all heights, guys. Because we so want to separate ourselves from whom we assume to be the ignorant tormentors of his childhood, we enable and encourage his not so lilliputian reign of terror on poor Rose week after week. Two bottles of champagne wasn’t enough for that first night Rose had to spend with him for hope of a better life.

Podcasters I love that have viewed his IG Lives say that it is common for Ed to accept share screen-time requests mainly from young girls, though he confirms their age when he starts chatting with them. Gross. Though we don’t cover 90 Day anymore — my podcasting partner on Housewives of Milan, Tiffany, and I discuss the dark turn some of the 90 Day characters have taken quite regularly.

It took you 28 years to find love because you are a bad person, Big Ed. Let’s wrap up his 15 minutes.

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