Reality TV

#90DayFiance: Interview with Danielle Jbali

Danielle Jbali from 90 Day Fiance is one of the most talked about members of the franchise. I recently fell far down the 90 Day rabbit hole, and although I’m new to this series, it is riveting for the realness and heightened raw emotions (much more so than arguably “staged” reality shows). Always the last one to the party, I had initially resolved not to take on another addictive television program, but completely reneged. As viewers can attest, Danielle and Mohamed’s crazy journey unwittingly sucks you in.

While Mohamed later pulled the “I got a bad edit” card, most viewers felt Danielle was being taken advantage of by the man who married her in 90 days to obtain his K1 Visa. The couple’s tumultuous dynamic played out for the cameras and after filming their first season, Mohamed became quite taken with the fan adoration on social media.

From there began the demise of their already rocky union. Danielle confronted Mohamed with the infamous “binder” that held incriminating information such as correspondences with other women, and expressed her desire for him to be deported. The now-divorced couple no longer speak, and Mohamed lashed out at producers for not showing some of the good times with Danielle and making him look like a lothario.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mvuUe7rroL4

I caught up with Danielle to ask her some of the questions viewers wanted to know. She also weighed in on the current season of 90 Day Fiance: Happily Ever After?

I know that you and Mohamed are divorced and have essentially moved on. Do you have any contact with him at all?

No, not at all. I tried reaching out last fall, but he quit responding to me so I gave up. We were cool before that and there was something I wanted help with – with a website. At first, he said yes and then he quit responding. He was talking to me while he was in Miami, but after he got to Texas he quit responding. He’s in Texas now.

Can you explain what it means that you are responsible for him for 10 years from him getting his K1 Visa and marrying you?

For example, if he was to go to the hospital or need federal assistance, they would come to me to collect that money.

Molly and Luis have a similar arrangement.

That’s what it would entail, the same thing.

I’m currently watching 90 Day Fiance: Happily Ever After? Are there any couples on that show that you have advice for based on your own experience?

Nicole and Azan I have been in touch with. I spoke with them after their very first season and advised Nicole to go over to Morocco more than once and really familiarize herself with that culture. She’s done that. I also spoke to Azan and said ‘Don’t ever do what Mohamed did.  Stick to your culture and your roots and really make sure that Nicole is used to that.’ You see, Mohamed brought religion into our relationship and then he was not sticking to things he was taught, but would turn around and blame me for things. In his culture, men are providers and I was taking care of him by working. When he was complaining about my finances, he wasn’t working. By the way, I found a new job within a month after you saw me lose my job on the show and I’m still working at that job. I take care of mentally handicapped adults. I work as a home health aide too. I’m also in school for my RN degree to become a nurse.

I was watching the scene in which you spoke with him about losing your job. He responded that he wouldn’t leave you because you lost your job, he would only leave if you weren’t telling him things. Did you trust what he was saying then?

I truly feel – I don’t care if my friend Beth gets mad – I know our relationship from the very beginning. I feel Mohamed came here for the right reasons…BUT after the financial trouble, losing my job, issues with my son and him not working, he started getting depressed. Part of the K1 process is that you’re not allowed to work until you get a work permit. When the show came out, he suddenly got messages from women all over the world and I think the fame went to his head. He was never that arrogant until after the show started airing.

When he was receiving all of those messages and responding to them, were you two separated or fully together?

This was while we were fully together. It was almost a year after we were fully together that he finally left because we had a big blow up. I found a receipt from a woman from Canada sending him money.

Were there moments you wish had been captured by the 90 Day crew that weren’t?

They didn’t show a lot of our happy moments. They showed him getting along with my girls and could’ve showed some more of that positive stuff. There was more than just the drama. There was some good stuff.

Can you address the things you heard Mohamed say that you feel were untrue?

I never screamed at him for sex. This is the thing: I’m open with my girls and will talk about sex in front of them and he was appalled by that. I know what my kids do and don’t do because I’m honest and open with them. I think that was shocking to Mohamed because of his culture. He didn’t agree with me being so open because in Tunisia they’re not open.

When he said I needed to see a doctor, it was a big lie to make me look bad. I was having medical issues with my period and I had a surgical procedure to have my uterus removed and he actually took me to that. He said I had an odor and peed on him. That was actually orgasm and he wasn’t experienced with sexual things. In the culture that he’s from, they don’t have sex until marriage. He was a virgin until I came over to see him.

I know it struck viewers as strange when he said at the wedding that it was Ramadan and so he couldn’t kiss his new bride.

That was edited a certain way! We actually had talked about it before the wedding but it was made to look like he sprung that on me. I already knew about Ramadan and when I went over to see him, we were conscious about not touching in public.

How is your relationship with your kids now and did Mohamed end up apologizing wholeheartedly to them as he promised he would?

Over in their culture, they do a lot of things with their family, but there was tension for a while between my kids and I when it was hard for Mohamed to understand that we are more open in our culture. I would talk with my family and friends. He doesn’t open up to family and friends from back home. He could’ve stopped talking to people online and just talked to his family if that were the case! I didn’t appreciate him getting on Reddit forums and things like that to discuss me and the relationship. He did end up apologizing to my kids. It’s not tense anymore for me and my kids. We’ve really moved past it.

When was the last time you saw Mohamed?

March of 2017, in court. Well, I did see him at the Tell-All but he wouldn’t talk to me there!

Do you have any other thoughts about the 90 Day Fiance: Happily Ever After? couples?

I think that Anfisa has been honest with Jorge from the get-go so I don’t hold that against her. The only thing I might hold against her is keying the car and stuff like that…but in some relationships, one person gets more hotheaded than the other person! I mean, hey, I threw a book at Mohamed in Miami. When you’re caught up in this crazy drama, you do things you normally wouldn’t do.

A fan named Jessica Mirmak told me to ask if you still have the binder. She added ‘Please, I need to know!’

Yes!

What is your relationship status now?

I’m dating someone, but he doesn’t want to be in the public eye at all, so I don’t put anything out there with him. That means no pictures on social media or anything like that. He likes his privacy. If I put it out there, some of these fans go crazy looking things up on the Internet. I do love to interact with my fans though and have met up with some and chatted with others. When they ask me questions, I try to answer them.

Should we expect to see you in a follow up show on TLC?

Possibly because I know they’ve extended my contract. I did the update for What Now? but I’m not sure what’s ahead! Stay tuned.

The rest of these questions are from a fan named Eunyoung Lee: 

Do your kids live with you?

My three daughters live with me. My son lives with his fiancé and their kids.

Where do you reside now?

I still live in Sandusky in the double wide mobile home I bought.

If it’s not too awkward, can you address what was discussed about your past criminal record?

I do have a couple of things on my record. Passing a bad check from 15 years ago and a misdemeanor theft from 13 years ago.

How has your life changed since being on TV and any regrets?

My life has changed from people digging for info and posting it online. I don’t think of myself as being famous. My family is very supportive. There’s nothing I regret, but I do wish they had showed more of the happy times that viewers didn’t get to see.

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Reality TV

#90DayFiance Newbie

Have you ever felt excluded because everyone around you was discussing a TV show you never watched? Well, that was my experience with 90 Day Fiance.

I had been hearing the chatter about Jorge and Anfisa, Nicole and Azan and David and Annie, while wondering who these people were and making a mental note to someday find out. However, I have 4 children, a husband, some tech-focused work projects, and writing I try to do when I can. I had only been able to delegate leisure time to 3 or 4 shows seasonally. I should mention that I procrastinate generally (much to my detriment) by spending time on Facebook and Twitter, so add social media to my productivity blockades. I began to surmise that I’d probably never get around to checking out this franchise.

But then came the assignment. The host of Pink Shade with Erin Martin instructed me to watch 90 Day Fiance for the first time ever. I was to just dive in to its spinoff Happily Ever After? without seeing any prior installments, and with my knowledge of the franchise limited to snippets from podcast recaps.

Usually I tuned out when hosts discussed the show because I wasn’t a viewer. This tendency comes naturally for me as a person with undiagnosed ADHD-I. However, Heather McDonald’s accurate and polarizing impersonation of Annie, who hails from Thailand, was fresh in my mind.

The minute I started watching the show, Annie did seem most familiar, and I had heard David interviewed on the podcast Reality Life with Kate Casey. This ludicrously mismatched couple made total sense to me right away: Annie thought she had hitched her wagon to a rich American, a common mistake made by some foreigners worldwide. News flash: Not all Americans are rich and though the USA offers promise, it is laden with problems and poverty as well. I remember thinking years ago “Wow, Israeli men really appreciate me!” when I visited the land and also spent a year there at age 18. After watching this show, I truly get it in hindsight.

The episode began with Molly, who is in the processes of divorcing Luis, and is trying to get his user ass deported. In the age of Trump, “Deportation” can be a dirty word, but on 90 Day Fiance Happily Ever After?, it is akin to “Hallelujah!” Luis is in his 20s and Molly is in her 40s, but looks ancient juxtaposed with the 20somethings of this show – Especially when you consider Azan and Nicole, both in their 20s but looking like they’re in their teens. Perhaps the camera not only adds 10 pounds, but a few years when you’re over the age of 40. Being in that cohort, I will now avoid television cameras at all costs.

Maybe it is Nicole’s naïveté that makes her appear younger than 24, believing that the opportunistic Azan is truly into her – rather than trying to get something from this arrangement, like the K1 Visa that he’s been denied. Nicole is in Morocco with Azan for now and you have to feel bad about how easily she’s been duped. He chalks off a suspicious voicemail recording with kiss noises to being a “joke” between guy friends. However, the most unwitting victim in all of this is her adorable daughter May. I immediately thought Nicole must have been a teen mom to have a daughter, but realistically she was about 21 when she gave birth. It appears May’s father is not in the picture – though I’m uncertain about that fact as a 90 Day novice in need of catching up.

The third couple that intrigued me – the most interesting in fact – was Jorge and Anfisa. Apparently, Jorge was so smitten with the Russian young woman that when he met her abroad, he thought he would be able to provide her with ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. This reminded me of when I (regrettably!) asked Adina Shapiro for her sticker album in first grade, promising to acquire all the stickers in the world for her in return. I seriously thought I would pull it off and get all those stickers for her. So did Adina. It didn’t work out. Our mothers eventually had to intervene. Wherever you are today, sorry Adina!

Jorge overpromised and overspent and now he’s scaling back and underdelivering, as far as Anfisa’s concerned.

Though she too is in her 20s (and there is not a big age difference between her and Jorge), she has had Botox and lip injections. She owns pricey designer clothing and handbags purchased on Jorge’s measly dime. Yes, you got it: Jorge is not rich either, not by a long shot. In fact, he’s in debt.

My voyeurism had reached its apex watching this insane show and I cannot wait to binge all the old episodes of this franchise. I only wish the TLC network would make that an easier feat for me. Apparently, episodes are only available through the TLC Go app, which means I’ll be watching on my phone so as not to subject my husband and children to the madness….

Although something tells me that if they watched, they’d get hooked too!

(To hear me give Erin Martin my take on ALL of the 90 Day Fiance: Happily Ever After? couples, you can listen to thePink Shade Podcast.)

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