How 90 Day Fiancé's Casting Process Changed After Controversy With Alina Kozhevnikova

90 Day Fiancé is known for its controversial storylines, but fans learned there is a limit to the type of drama the producers will tolerate. After former cast member Alina Kozhevnikova made headlines with a number of past social media posts containing racist language, the TLC bosses cut her out of the franchise, along with her partner Caleb Greenwood. We’re learning now that after that fiasco, the casting crew changed up its process for seeking out new subjects, in an effort to ensure nothing like that happens again. 

90 Day Fiancé's senior director of casting Brooklyn Bagwell spoke with Variety about the show's process behind securing its seasonal stars, and how things changed after the series cut ties with Alina. Bagwell noted there’s an extensive vetting process that occurs for casting, even before potential cast members have their first interviews, saying:

Our internal searches before they even get on a Zoom or Skype interview with me are so intense. We have LexisNexis on all couples, plus the supporting characters. If they are chosen for the show, there is an extensive background check that they go through to check for any past media or criminal history, and that’s super important. Obviously, we can’t get it all. Sometimes things pop up once they’ve been on the show, and it’s super unfortunate, but we do our due diligence as much as possible to try to make that not happen.

As Brooklyn Bagwell mentioned, the 90 Day Fiancé squad can’t catch everything in the cast members' pasts, but it sounds like they're taking as many precautions as possible. To the point where even a star's BFFs are going to be looked into, on the offchance that they might appear in an ep or two. Perhaps now, though, these new guidelines will allow for fewer issues with cast members in terms of troubling allegations lodged against them, or bringing in guests revealed to have been convicted of serious crimes.

For those curious about the possibility of landing on 90 Day Fiancé with prior arrests and convictions, the answer isn’t necessarily no. Brooklyn Bagwell explained the disqualifying types of charges and the wiggle room for inviting felons on the show:

It’s dependent on what the record is. Obviously, we don’t want domestic violence or child pornography, or anything like that. Those are all no. But if they have other criminal records, like maybe a history of drugs, maybe it could be part of their story.

90 Day Fiancé fans saw Jorge Nava's criminal past worked into his storyline, as he had various charges preventing him from renting an apartment for his fiancé Anfisa Arkhipchenko. Granted, that was a rarer exception to the rule, and it’s not like every cast member prior to this rule shift was hiding lengthy arrest records. 

And as mentioned, there’s really not much the 90 Day Fiancé casting team can do if a cast member causes controversy after appearing on the program, as it went when Ben Rathbun’s arrest occurred towards the end of his storyline. Additionally, social media posts revealing spoilers or other controversial details can land a cast member in hot water, but it’s not always a death knell for their time in the franchise. At least, that was how things worked in the past, though we’ll have to wait and see what happens the next time someone goes FUBAR 

The current season of 90 Day Fiancé doesn’t seem to have anyone with a big criminal background, even if there is some social media drama. Perhaps this is a sign the new tactics have been working, and we’ll see fewer controversial stars in the future. It’ll be interesting to see if there are noticeable differences, whether it's less problematic cast members in general or changes in how fans perceive the show's central couples and their journeys. 

90 Day Fiancé airs on TLC on Sundays at 8:00 p.m. ET. Discovery+ is the platform to have for access to the entire back catalog of the franchise. Be sure to check out our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what other new and returning shows are coming around soon.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

I like good television but also reality television. His day largely consists of balancing his workload between reporting on the latest and greatest news in Star Trek and other sci-fi, as well as 90 Day Fiancé, WWE, Big Brother, and more.