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90 Day Fiancé Season 9 Premiere: Why Bilal's 'Prank' On Shaeeda Already Feels Like A Major Red Flag

Bilal on 90 Day Fiancé
(Image credit: TLC)

Warning! The following contains spoilers for the 90 Day Fiancé Season 9 premiere. Read at your own risk!

90 Day Fiancé Season 9 is here with its mostly fresh cast of couples all ready to show the franchise's fanbase their particular journeys through the K-1 visa process, and all the drama that comes along with it. Unfortunately, the season premiere didn’t feature any major updates or big moments from returning couple Ariela Weinberg and Biniyam Shibre’s relationship, though we were introduced to Bilal Hazziez. Viewers will possibly put forth some strong reactions concerning Bilal, who conceived a “prank” intended to test his fiancé Shaeeda Sween upon her visit to the U.S., and its red-flag status grew and grew with each detail he revealed. 

Bilal explained during his introduction on 90 Day Fiancé (which will eventually be available to HBO Max subscribers when the streaming merge with Discovery+ is completed) that while he likes expensive things and is living well, he never made his financial status clear to Shaeeda. In fact, he actively hid it from her to the point where he only had blank walls behind him during their Facetime calls, as to not show his lavish home. This all led to his villain-esque reveal that he rented a service van as well as a small home for a one-night stay, all in the name of fooling Shaeeda into thinking he lives modestly upon her initial visit to the United States.

The prank, as Bilal explained it, was to pretend as though he led a simpler life than he actually did, and his reasoning was such that he thought it'd be funny to show her this set-up first only to later reveal he didn't actually live like that at all. He also mentioned this would help determine if Shaeeda was here for the right reasons and if she’s a “gold digger” or not. I think we can agree it's a mighty strange coincidence that Bilal had this idea around the same time the Joe Millionaire revival was happening on Fox, and that didn't exactly turn out the best for all involved

Of course, some 90 Day Fiancé fans might be wondering if Bilal’s secondary reason for blowing extra money on a quasi-initiation is his bigger motivator. It’s hard to tell if Shaeeda will be amused and agree that it's a prank, or if she'll be deeply offended by the whole thing and accuse him of next-level gaslighting. 

It’s hard to say with certainty, but it feels like there’s little upside to this stunt on the whole. The best case scenario is Shaeeda taking the whole thing in good humor without outwardly freaking out, while inwardly wondering WTF else this dude is capable of. Otherwise, we might see her reveal she is turned off completely by a more humble lifestyle, causing her to leave him. In another case, Shaeeda might not care about his financial situation at all, but will feel hurt and betrayed that Bilal didn’t trust her enough to be honest about his lifestyle. 

He needs to understand that after leaving everything familiar in order to live with an intended future spouse, nobody wants to the first thing they experience to be duplicitousness. Pulling a practical joke on anyone moving from another country to start a new life feels rather mean even in the most positive circumstances. 

But as I said before, perhaps Shaeeda will take it with good humor, and it's possible his idea will feel like an inside joke, rather than a televised "gotcha!" moment. I’ve watched 90 Day Fiancé long enough to know that cast members can always exceed expectations, in both good and bad ways. 

I’m also mildly suspicious as to whether or not this is something the producers encouraged Bilal to do to quickly spice up the drama of their storyline, as former cast members have alleged that behind-the-scenes decisions have influenced how stories play out, as opposed to things being completely organic. If this was all Bilal's idea, though, then this might already top just about everything the scandal-driven cast of Before the 90 Days Season 5 did, which is a tall order. 

90 Day Fiancé Season 9 airs on TLC on Sundays at 8:00 p.m. ET. This season is already off to a hot start, and one can only hope that the sizzle will continue with Ariela and Biniyam's narrative later in the season.

Mick Joest
Mick Joest

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.