TLC’s “90 Day Fiancé” franchise has produced several reality TV stars during its long run.
While some of them faded from minds when the show ended, a handful of them have remained in the spotlight, as well as turned their stardom into revenue sources.
And San Diego photographer Big Ed (real name Edward Allen Brown) falls into the latter category.
He got tongues wagging since he appeared in season four of “90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days.
After initially being ridiculed for his short neck, he shut down trolls when he revealed he has a rare genetic disorder called Klippel Fiel Syndrome (KFS), which is a condition that affects the development of the bones in the spine.
At the time, he was madly in love with his 20-something girlfriend Rosemarie “Rose” Vega, from the Philippines.
Aside from the noticeable age gap, it was Big Ed’s larger than life personality that made him stand out.
Okay, he stretched the truth when it came to his height but, after his arrival in the Philippines, Rose wasn’t terribly offended by it.
However, their chalk and cheese personalities conflated their expectations around children.
Of course, in the time they got to know each other, their dramatic clashes became most entertaining – from Big Ed pushing the whole STD test issues with Rose, to him slumming it at her rustic home (including that awkward shower scene with her father), and then having a hygiene talk with her about her hairy legs and bad breath.
Charming, he was not.
But his eccentric behaviour, not to mention weird grooming habits – of using mayonnaise in his hair – left fans in hysterics. At the end of the season, he walked away broken-hearted, as Rose wasn’t able to get past the fact that they could not have kids, as he had a vasectomy.
Honestly, I thought that was the last we had seen of the 56-year-old.
But the fan favourite resurfaced in another franchise spin-off, 90 Day Fiancé: The Single Life, which is currently airing on the small screen in SA.
Even more surprising, he actually managed to get lucky in love, too. Seriously, I kid you not.
Liz Wood, a young waitress at a restaurant he frequented, caught his eye. After consulting with a relationship coach and a chat with those close to him, he plucked up the courage to ask the single mother, twice divorced, out.
That she is younger than his 29-year-old daughter Tiffany didn’t deter him.
To date, we’ve watched him go through a few cringy faux pas while on a few dates with Liz. His biggest concern was being “friend-zoned”.
However, their relationship blossomed when Liz agreed to accompany him to a friend’s wedding. And he managed to get past first and second base, and he got her to agree to be his girlfriend and to meet his daughter in Las Vegas.
And that’s when he hit a speed bump.
His daughter wasn’t happy and she said as much. Liz got out of dodge the next morning.
And Big Ed found himself wrestling with conflicting emotions, and was unsure about where things stood with Liz.
Although we have yet to see the latest developments between Big Ed and Liz on the show, the couple has confirmed their engagement on social media.
In an interview with Access Hollywood, Big Ed said: “About a month before we got back together, I kind of realised, you know, that I really didn’t appreciate who she was and that I don’t want to love anybody else. And never in a million years did I think that I would be together with Liz.
“For me, it’s surreal. I invited her to dinner. I had one question for Liz: ‘Am I your forever?’ And she said, ‘Yes’.
“She ended up leaving for work. And I did a beeline for the jewellery store and I bought the biggest diamond I could find,” said Ed.
Aside from being on cloud nine over finding love, he is busy working on his mind and body. And he’s also admitted to learning to love himself, too.
Fans will have to wait for the second season of “90 Day Fiancé: The Single Life” to get all the juicy details around their engagement.
For now, be sure to tune into the season one tell-all in December.
“90 Day Fiancé: The Single Life” airs on TLC (DStv channel 135), on Thursdays at 8pm.