Don’t Underestimate the ’90 Day Fiancé’ Universe

It was hard to find much levity during the WarnerBros. Discovery earnings call this week. But one phrase has dominated Twitter jokes ever since CEO David Zaslav first put up the slide: the “90 Day Fiancé Universe.” Friends, I am all for a good corporate dunk; it’s one of my favorite hobbies. But on this point, the jokes are wrong. The 90 Day Fiancé universe is a very real thing, and just because you may not be part of it does not mean it isn’t a television force.

If you don’t spend your limited time on this planet listening to earnings calls, congratulations. You’re probably a far more interesting person than me. In the middle of Zaslav’s presentation, the CEO highlighted the biggest properties under the WarnerBros. Discovery umbrella. A lot of those names were expected, like HBO and HGTV on the brands side and Game of Thrones and Harry Potter under franchises. Then there was the 90 Day Fiancé Universe, the franchise proudly listed beside DC staples Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman — and between game of Thrones and The Wizarding World of Harry Potterin particular.

Slide from WarnerBros.  Discovery earnings call
Photo: WarnerBros. Discovery

The optics were, admittedly, jarring. For non-fans, 90 Day Fiancé it seems like one of those shows that’s simply around rather than anything that’s widely watched. Twitter jokesters took the phrase and did what they do best. Some further whether HBO would ever achieve the prestige of the 90 Day Fiancé Universe. Others took The simple approachputting the 90 Day Fiancé Universe in quotes and allowing that phrase to speak for itself. former game of Thrones producer Bryan Cogman summed up being listed next to the franchise by tweeting “Dream big, guys!” You get the gist. The jokes were hot.

The problem is that almost all of these jokes stem from the premise that 90 Day Fiancé is not widely watched and that it doesn’t have its own, shared universe. Both of those assumptions are simply untrue. In 2021, Forbes reported that spinoff Happily Ever After? consistently higher secured ratings than any of its cable peers. But the true popularity of the series and its spinoffs is evident in Zaslav’s slide. Repeatedly throughout the investor call, Zaslav emphasized that his goal was to maximize the company’s profitability. It’s that profits-first focus that likely led to Zaslav announcing the end of movies premiering on HBO Max. The man’s goal seems to be to make money, first and foremost. The fact that 90 Day Fiancé appeared on a “Global Powerhouse” slide implies that the Warner Bros. Discovery team crunched the numbers and found that these shows were money makers. not even Rick and Morty or the Criterion Collection made that short list.

Even the “universe” part of this equation — the aspect most people have been mocking — is an accurate description. What else would you call it? In March of 2021, there were 18 different 90 Day Fiancé shows. Not seasons, mind you. shows. Many of those shows have multiple seasons, including the original eight-season. A month later, yet another 90 Day spinoff premiered, 90 Day: Foody Call. There is an obscene amount of 90 Day content, and yes, it is all related.

In many ways, 90 Day shows feel more interconnected than the MCU. take Pillow Talk, for example. The premise of that one is that couples who have starred on 90 Day Fiancé or one of its mainline spinoffs watch an episode from another season together and record their commentary. Those snarky comments have later been addressed in other spinoffs like B90 Strikes Back! [Before the 90 Days Strikes Back!] and HEA Strikes Back! [Happily Ever After? Strikes Back!]. Both of those are reunion series that give couples a chance to respond to fan criticism. That means there’s a show where couples can clap back at other couples who have insulted them. It’s wild.

Even on a less direct level, 90 Day Fiancé is always interconnected. It’s not unusual for couples from previous seasons to appear in new installments. Hell, even background characters have managed to get their own spinoffs. Debbie was first introduced to viewers in Season 6 as Colt’s overprotective mom and roommate. Cut to last year, Debbie starred in The Single Life‘s second season, attempting the world of dating without her adult son in tow. One of the men Debbie dated, Jay, was even from America. This is how wide-spanning this franchise is. It drifted away from “only international couples” like 10 spinoffs ago.

In any other branch of pop culture, a group of shows or movies that are all connected would be considered a universe. if we can accept Bachelor Nation, then we can accept the fact that a truly staggering amount of people watch the 90 Day Fiancé Universe. Yes, it is a funny sounding name. But when these shows finally come to a mainline streaming service, you’ll see why 90 Day Fiancé deserves to be listed next to game of Thrones and Harry Potter, and the jokes don’t have a leg to stand on: it’s as wildly addictive as any other franchise in the Warner Bros. Discovery roster.

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