"90 Day Fiance" star Rose Vega dumped "Big Ed" on last night's episode. But before she dumped him, she became an internet hero.
The 90 Day Fiance franchise is one of the top-rated shows on TLC. Celebrity fans, including Chrissy Teigen and Issa Rae, helped make it one of the most-watched shows on Sunday nights. It’s even come in at No. 1 for some weeks.
The show’s premise is a simple one. An American man — or woman — finds love abroad. That American then meets their newly-beloved in their home country. After spending some time together, the couple decides if they want to take the next step in their relationship — namely, engagement.
If they agree, the non-American travels to the United States on a K1 visa. This visa requires that the couple get married within 90 days of its issuance (hence the title of the show, 90 Day Fiance).
This brings us to this season’s breakout star, Rose Vega.
Much of what we’ve seen of Rose Vega on this season of 90 Day Fiance evokes pity. She comes from abject poverty in the Philippines, has a young son whose father is noticeably absent, and hopes a new man can provide a better life for the two of them.
Enter Ed Brown.
“Big Ed,” as he became known in the show promos, was positioned by TLC as a “white savior” of sorts.
He’s the perfect 90 Day Fiance cast member.
Hailing from San Diego, CA, “Big Ed” loves his dog, his photography business, and his mother. He tells the viewers that he was married, but that it didn’t work out because he cheated.
Since his divorce nearly three decades ago, “Big Ed” has been unlucky in love… until, he says, he met Rose.
And so, as per 90 Day Fiance protocol, off he goes to the Philippines to meet her.
And, at first, it’s a match made in Heaven. But it doesn’t take long for “Big Ed” to show his true colors — none of which are beautiful like a rainbow (with apologies to Cyndi Lauper).
First, he tells Rose that she needs to take an STD test to prove her fealty. When she counters by suggesting he take one, he declines and leaves her crying in a restaurant.
Then, he offers to take Rose shopping, and Rose graciously accepts. After Rose spends the equivalent of $20, Ed looks at the show’s confessional camera and accuses Rose of being a “gold digger.” He also said that Rose was “only using him for a green card.”
It gets worse.
Ed takes Rose to a hotel, presumably for some “romance.” He succeeds in getting her into bed, then wakes up the next day and tells her to shave her legs “so she’ll look pretty for him.”
Never mind that Ed looks like… this.
The audacity of the caucasity!
Finally, he concludes his awful behavior by giving Rose a gift – of a toothbrush & toothpaste(!) – while informing her that her breath stinks.
When Rose informs Ed that her breath is bad because she has an ulcer, Ed doesn’t even offer an apology. He simply tells her to “brush her teeth.”
This prompts what happened in last night’s episode: After upbraiding “Big Ed” for his filthy behavior, Rose storms out of the hotel and informs him that their relationship is done.
So much for the idea that Rose was “only using Ed for a green card.”
And with that simple moment, Rose Vega became an internet hero. Tweets flew in from all over the country, praising her for finally putting her proverbial foot down and not putting up with Ed’s mess.
There’s no shortage of evidence that suggests that “Big Ed” targeted Vega because she was a poor Asian woman. Aside from fetishizing Vega to her detriment, “Big Ed” was subsequently caught flirting with minors on Instagram Live.
This more than suggests that “Big Ed” is a predator. This all but confirms that Vega was nothing more than a pawn in his game.
But Vega wasn’t having it.
By refusing to be a stereotypical “China Doll” for a predator — and by standing up so boldly on 90 Day Fiance — Rose Vega made clear that while a better life in America would have been nice, it wasn’t worth having if she had to pay for it with her self-respect.
And she earned every letter of the “hero” title for it.