We don’t know why 90 Day Fiance: The Other Way Season 5 premiered just weeks after Season 4 ended.
Or why it’s airing on Monday nights, demanding that TLC viewers devote 4 hours to the franchise within a 26-hour period.
But these questions washed away as viewers got to know Brandan and Mary.
This pair of obsessed 23-year-olds are more than just codependent. There is something deeply wrong with their unhinged romance.
Brandan is from Oregon. Mary is from the Philippines. Both are 23, making them age-appropriate to date each other.
Not really the right age for marriage, but even folks who want to set the marriage minimum age to 25 (myself included) would allow for exceptions like terminal illness and international marriage.
Unfortunately, Brandan and Mary’s mutual affection and corresponding ages is where the appropriateness of their romance ends.
It was editors, not Brandan and Mary, who decided that the very first glimpse of the pair would be of Brandon video chatting with her while he’s on the toilet.
But it’s the right call. It very succinctly summarizes their gratuitous obsession with one another.
“Clingy” is a relative label. But in this case, it doesn’t go far enough to describe their twisted codependency.
Brandan has a heartbreaking backstory. When he was 15, his mother failed a drug test and lost custody.
He had to live with his father, which was a miserable and hostile environment. His younger siblings went into foster care.
When Brandan was able, he left his father behind. That did not mean that things became easier. He struggled, even becoming homeless for a time.
When Brandan’s godmother found out his living circumstances, she brought him to live with her and her family. He now lives in a small, old-fashioned RV. And he does chores around her home.
With this context, we can understand how Brandan has a lot of emotional baggage. Having a girlfriend who is obsessed with him might feel like a comfort after everything that he has gone through.
But … that does not mean that this is healthy. For either of them.
Video calls on the toilet are gross, but they’re also harmless if both parties don’t mind. But there is harm, here.
Mary does not like Brandan spending time with any other woman. This goes beyond those toxic 90 Day cast members who resent friends and exes.
Whether it’s Brandan’s mother or sister or even a dental hygienist, Mary straight-up bristles. This has made a bad impression on Brandan’s family.
During the premiere, Mary watched like a hawk while the dental hygienist cleaned her boyfriend’s teeth.
When Brandan mentioned that he’d had a girlfriend before, noting that this did not make Mary his “first love,” it caused Mary to cry.
She accused him of having “lied” at the dentist’s office. It’s just … not healthy at all.
Thus far, it’s easy to assume that Mary is simply toxic and controlling. But the obsession goes both ways.
Mary had to bow out of a major opportunity because of Brandan’s insecurities. We learned this and more as the premiere introduced Mary.
She has abandonment issues, too — as her parents took off when she and her brother were young. Their grandparents raised them.
Mary lives a lifestyle that many Americans would consider to be one of extreme poverty. Right down to washing laundry in a river.
She makes sure that her young family members feel loved. Growing up, Mary did not feel that love. You can see where her baggage impacts her as Brandan’s does his.
Mary also notes that she is a devout Catholic. She has never had sex of any kind. Her only experiences in that area are in video chats with Brandan. Also? If this doesn’t work out, she’ll just become a nun.
Mary is not totally open with Brandan about how much time she spends with friends.
Putting this delicately, we’re fairly confident that her friends aren’t after her. But it does seem hypocritical to resent a guy spending time with his sister when you hang out with your own guy friends.
But frankly, all of their other issues pale beside the codependency and possessiveness. They both seem like sweethearts. That doesn’t mean that they’re good for each other.