Fans were annoyed and disappointed to find out that Bilal Hazziez and Shaheeda Sween would be returning to the 90 Day Fiancé spin off of Happily Ever After. The devout Muslim 37 year old from Trinidad and Tobago and her mid-west realtor husband were hardly the most interesting couple to ever appear on the show. Overall they were just too proper for a reality show like 90 Day Fiancé and both took themselves way too seriously.
Normally someone as boring as Bilal would have slipped under the radar, but due to the uneventful nature of 90 Day Fiancé, Season 9, his behavior was put under the microscope. Since his appearance on the franchise Bilal has been branded as one of the worst men to ever be featured on the show, with some fans even comparing him to the likes of violent convict Geoffrey Paschel and abusive stalker Paul Staehle.
But how is this even reasonable and why do viewers hate Bilal so much?
Bilal is a costume and not a real person
Bilal the character
Bilal seems to have narcissistic tendencies
A wise person once said that we watch reality TV through the lens of our own trauma. While it may not be obvious to some, those who have been exposed to narcissistic abuse have spoken out about about recognizing those signs in Bilal.
While we cannot diagnose anyone with a personality disorder (with the exception of someone as obvious as Jesse Meester) from a short TV appearance, we can analyze their actions. For example, narcissists are extremely concerned with their image (the one they create for themselves) they have a fragile ego and cannot handle criticism. Once they feel challenged or shamed they often retaliate against “the offender” with manipulation, smear campaigns and more. All of this is done in private while the narcissist maintains the perfect image for the outside world.
Why did Bilal and his wife divorce?
We have already seen Bilal manufacture the perfect image of himself but we have also been able to observe Bilal’s reaction to criticism. There was a certain quiet rage about him as he listened to his ex wife describe him as a “lecturer” at the Season 9 Tell All. Bilal’s ex wife said that they got divorced because she needed a partner and not a father. Bilal wasn’t able to respond adequately and instead said something about people living in an “oppressive word environment”. Perhaps Bilal was trying to say that he is feeling attacked, because he immediately switched into victim mode.
In the post Tell All interview he complained that everyone thinks that he is a bad guy, when in actuality he is a great guy who “never yells”. Shaheeda’s apologetic body language indicated defeat and shame, while Bilal stared at the camera blankly.
The car fight
Let’s not forget the car scene which was featured on Season 9 of 90 Day Fiancé. While the fight about Shaheeda playfully smacking Bilal in the back of the head seemed ridiculous, to Bilal it would have felt justified. As a narcissist, Bilal would have seen his wife challenging him on TV as the ultimate sign of disrespect and dishonor for which she would deserve to be punished. The threat of forcing her to get out of the car with no money, no ride, and in an unfamiliar location, would have taken away all of her control. Being left on the side of a busy highway would have served as an act of humiliation.
Bilal didn’t actually kick Shaheeda out of the car because he is smart enough to know that this would have made him look bad. Instead he alienated Shaheeda at their place of worship by ignoring her and being hostile. This is especially awful considering that prior to the fight Shaheeda was explaining how nervous she was to meet his ex wife for the first time. Bilal responded to her concerns by saying that she has “a giant booger in her nose with a hair on it” which caused Shaheeda to rightfully smack him for being an immature idiot.
Bilal is painfully unfunny
As hard as he tries, Bilal just can’t get a laugh. In a recent Instagram post where Shaheeda pranked her followers by pretending to take off her hijab, Bilal chimed in:
“Sorry for messin up your haircut babe the clippers slipped out my hand when you sneezed”
Was Shaheeda the perfect target?
On the Tell All we also learned a new fact about Shaheeda: she didn’t actually have any assets before moving to Kansas City. Contrary to what Bilal and Shaheeda led us to believe, Shaheeda lived with her parents before she moved to the US. At 37 years old, with no assets, in a developing country, and desperately wanting children, Shaheeda would have made the perfect target for an abuser.
Bilal Hazziez: the rebranding
If Bilal really was a nice guy who was made out to look like an abuser, a salesman, and a lecturer on a TV show, the normal response may have been to cut his losses and to have nothing more to do with 90 Day Fiancé. Instead, Bilal set out on a mission to repair his image. He repackaged his “brand” by making a series of videos which were designed to make him look like a funny, easy-going guy. But instead of letting the videos happen naturally, he recorded re-enactments from the show that made him look bad, such as the time he blamed Shaheeda for spilling water on the floor or putting pins in the couch. The videos attempt to feature Shaheeda as the bossy one, again coming across as the opposite of the truth.
Bilal’s apology about nothing
Bilal also released an apology post to Shaheeda about having been wrong many times. Unfortunately because he was unspecific about what he was talking about, it fell on deaf ears again. As a salesman Bilal doesn’t seem to know how to read the room.
The apology and the funny videos came on the heels of an accusation addressed to the viewers for being jealous of Bilal and not accepting him for being a successful black man in a dominant role. Again, the accusation was so off base and self-indulgent that fans suspected Bilal of writing it even though it came from Shaheeda’s account.
Bilal and Shaheeda on Happily Ever After
90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After? Season 7 started off with Bilal and Shaheeda being more playful as she adjusted to the snowy winter of Kansas City. But it quickly turned back around to Shaheeda begging Bilal for children and Bilal not showing any interest in having a baby at all. Shaheeda even convinced Bilal to see a fertility specialist who explained that Shaheeda is at an advanced maternal age and that the clock is ticking, but Bilal somehow heard that they should wait a couple of more years. Let’s hope that Bilal begins to understand that no amount of funny videos will offset him playing games with his wife’s fertile years.
Shahidah Salaam’s book
Something you may not know about Bilal’s ex wife is that she is a published author. In her book The After Effects of Hajj: The Journey Begins Now Shahidah details her life’s journey and speaks in part about her marriage to Bilal.