NEW YORK (AP) — The marriage between the stars of "The Family Chantel'' has come to an end, but the hit reality show will have a fifth and final season. The split has been unsurprising for faithful fans of the show who’ve watched the couple's downward spiral.
“The damage is done already,” said Pedro Jimeno, of the divorce. “It’s not going to be any reconciliation in the future.”
Jimeno, a native of the Dominican Republic, and Chantel Everett were standouts on TLC’s popular “90 Day Fiancé” reality TV show, which has become an almost cult-like followed franchise. The original series, which debuted in 2014, follows couples navigating America’s K-1 visa process, which allows foreign citizens who are engaged to Americans to move to the U.S. and marry within 90 days. After marriage, they can apply to become a permanent U.S. resident.
After their initial season four debut and appearances on other “90 Day Fiancé’” shows, Jimeno and Everett earned their own series, the first spinoff to follow an individual couple. (The show’s name came from the way Pedro, a native Spanish speaker, identified the Everett family.)
And while the love was strong initially, the union was complicated by their families who many fans believe had too much influence. The honeymoon phase quickly ended, and last season, the couple experienced plenty of drama and heartbreak, resulting in a tumultuous relationship and accusations of infidelity and financial mismanagement.
The final season of "The Family Chantel,'' which begins Monday, follows them as they wrap up their shared marital responsibilities — including the contentious selling of their house — and prepare for their new lives.
“On the final season of ‘The Family Chantel,’ you’re going to find a lot of drama, it’s going to be (hard) and painful,” said Jimeno. “I’m at peace with the marriage…I wish the best for Chantel.”
The show airs at 9 p.m. Eastern on TLC.
Jimeno spoke with The Associated Press about his current feelings toward Everett, regrets, and his future in reality TV.
Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
AP: What kind of place are you and Chantel in now post-divorce?
JIMENO: We’re not on good terms. I follow my way, she goes her way. And right now, we are not talking at all…it’s much better like that because in the end, I want to be separated from the family, and I want to heal myself and be a better person.
AP: Do you feel the show fairly portrayed you and Chantel over the course of the marriage?
JIMENO: Over the course, they weren’t fair on my side. Last year, they only choose one side, Chantel’s side…they (portrayed me) like a freaking user, like somebody wants to use her for papers, a machista (sexist) person, that I only want to do things my way and it wasn’t like that. And I feel it wasn’t fair for me because they only put her story, her side.
AP: Do you think the problems in your marriage were because of the issues you and Chantel had, or more due to the families’ involvement?
JIMENO: Chantel had some issues, (her) family had some issues, and when you put those things together, you only hear one side of the story. You only hear her family talking about all the problems.
AP: And what about your family? They always had a lot to say as well.
JIMENO: My family, too. My family is not perfect — nobody’s perfect. But in the end, I haven’t spent that much time with my family. (My) family’s in the Dominican Republic. I was here (in Atlanta). And I’m not going to defend my family at all…my sister, my mother, they’re a little crazy sometimes. But in the end, they were not involved inside our relationship (as much as) the Family Chantel.
AP: How do you feel about criticism that you only married Chantel for a green card?
JIMENO: People need to understand I’ve been here for almost seven years already. If I wanted a green card, if I wanted a visa, I would’ve broken up after the first three years and be free… I believed in the marriage for that long, and in the end, everybody grow apart.
AP: Do you ever fear your visa status could be in jeopardy in the future?
JIMENO: I’m not scared to be deported anymore because I already have my citizenship. I’m American…I got my blue passport, I got all my stuff already, thank God.
AP: Now that you’re divorced, are you dating?
JIMENO: I keep all my dating and stuff private. When the moment comes, it’s gonna be revealed. But right now, I try to keep things a little private.
AP: Would you ever consider appearing on reality TV again?
JIMENO: I’ve been doing real estate, thank God, I’ve been doing great…And for reality TV show, I can say that’s something I’ve been doing for almost 10 years, let’s say. I’ve got a lot of experience...If they have opportunities to be on other shows, if they present it to me, I will think about it.
AP: Do you have any regrets?
JIMENO: The only thing is (everyone) can be better in the relationship. …You only see those times when you’re out the relationship (and) I say, “I can do this better, this better." But it’s too late for those things. I hope she can find some better guy … and I pray to God she can be happy. ___
Follow Associated Press journalist Gary Gerard Hamilton at @GaryGHamilton on all his social media platforms.