Posted on Wednesday, October 4, 2017 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Woodstock's Molly Hopkins knows reality TV. She runs a bra-fitting shop called LiviRae Lingerie in Kennesaw with her buddy Cynthia Decker and Lifetime ran two seasons of their clients and wacky interplay in a reality show called "Double Divas" in 2013 and 2014.
But thanks to Decker, she is now on a very different reality show on TLC called "90 Day Fiance," which returns on Sunday, October 8 at 9 p.m.
The premise, for those who are unfamiliar: Americans bring folks they met overseas to the United States on 90-day K-1 visas. If they get married, that person stays stateside. If not, they go back to their home country.
Over the first four seasons, couples have faced numerous obstacles, be it cultural and language differences, skepticism from family and friends and the stigma of being pegged a "mail order bride." Many marriages have survived while a few never made it to matrimony.
Hopkins said up to this point, she had never met the right guy to marry. "The dating scene in Atlanta is a little different," she said. "I'd given up hope. They always say when you know you've met the person of your dreams, it's magical. I never had that experience here."
But on a girls' trip to the Dominican Republic last year, 42-year-old Hopkins ran into 26-year-old Luis Mendez, who worked as a bartender at a local Hard Rock Cafe. And that magical moment happened for both of them. "He was so beautiful, I was mind blown!" she said.
He said to her, "Oh my God! I'm going to marry you!"
Hopkins laughed and asked for a vodka tonic. Later, Decker nudged her to stay in touch with him. Since he wasn't technically supposed to fraternize with guests, they corresponded through social media. "We Facetime'd a lot," she said.
After her vacation was over, she returned three weeks later and spent real quality time with him.
They fell in love in a real-life version of "How Stella Got Her Groove Back." Within two months, he proposed to her.
"It was just energy," Hopkins said. "Just a mutual sense of fun. Even though there's an age difference, I'm very much a free spirit type of person. I'm very young at heart. I love to throw and go. The vibe there is amazing. I love to dance. There's music on every corner [in the Dominican Republic.] It feels so good. It's a beautiful place. I loved it."
She said she gets along with his parents and he speaks English fairly well. "If we don't understand something, there are tons of apps!" she said.
As the show is promoting, after Mendez moved to suburban Woodstock, he had to adjust to a much quieter lifestyle and sell himself to Hopkins' two daughters, ages 17 and six. (Hopkins has never been married and has raised them as a single parent.)
But Mendez will have an especially tough time with Hopkins' father, who thinks he's here just for the Green Card.
"My dad is a very staunch conservative," she said. "There are going to be some adjustments."
Decker last year had watched "90 Day Fiance" and thought Hopkins was perfect for it. So she filled out the application on Hopkins' behalf without her business partner's knowledge. ("She knows all my info," Hopkins said. "She knows my mother's maiden name! She knows my height, my weight, my Social Security number!")
Mendez, she said, is not a publicity seeker but went along with being filmed. "He really was just game," she said. "He was really easygoing about it."
She said she learned more about herself doing this show than she had expected. "It's a completely different format from the other show I did," she said. "It's really interpersonal. It's been quite an experience. I look forward to seeing what happens in the future."
And she's bracing herself for the inevitable negative feedback in the social media muck.
"I have a thick skin," she said. "I've worked in the fashion industry and having to call New York with my Southern drawl. I've had people say, 'She's so cute but why is her face so fat?' I'm confident in who I am and my life decisions. I'm truly in love with this man."
"90 Day Fiance," returning for season five at 9 p.m. Sunday, October 8 on TLC