The untold truth of Love After Lockup

WE tv's Love After Lockup took the reality television world by storm, quickly becoming the "fastest-growing new cable series for 2018," according to the network (via Reality Blurred). Meanwhile, season two garnered an average of 1.17 million viewers per episode, increasing rating numbers up from the 663,000 viewers that tuned in for the first season. 

The success of the original series also spawned a spin-off show titled Life After Lockup. According to TheWrap, this series has allowed fans to see how life for the couples has transpired following their appearances on the parent show. WE tv president Marc Juris shared a statement with the outlet: Claiming that "viewers can't get enough of Love After Lockup" and calling the show a "reality sensation," he said that the spin-off series "will be a must-watch for the show's passionate fans." 

As with any reality TV series, cameras documenting people's lives day and night has equaled tons of on-screen drama, as well as footage cut from what fans see on the small screen, lesser known behind-the-scenes details, and plenty of angsty gossip. This is the untold truth of Love After Lockup.

The keys to Love After Lockup's casting

The casting process for Love After Lockup was dependent on finding couples who had met while one half was incarcerated and set to be released from prison soon, according to Reality Blurred. According to WE tv's president Marc Juris, the reality show's producers also wanted to be sure the inmates participating in the series were "relatable" and had not committed certain severe or violent crimes, and "who've changed, who've learned, so we could see their transformation as well."

Juris also shared with the outlet that the origins of the show came from the network's yearly "pitch fest," which allows WE tv employees to team up into groups of "people who don't [typically] work with or talk to each other" to brainstorm potential new series ideas. Once the initial idea for Love After Lockup was pitched, the heads of the network jumped into the difficult casting process, finalizing safety precautions, and maneuvering through unexpected real-life challenges that could complicate production schedules, such as when an inmate's release date is postponed. "That's what makes it interesting and real," Juris added. "We're with the people when they discover they're not getting out of prison."

Does Love After Lockup showcase superficial love?

Some of the cast members of Love After Lockup have admitted that their initial attraction to their romantic counterpart may have started out a bit superficial. According to Fox News, reality star Marcelino Santiago revealed that he first noticed inmate and future wife Brittany Santiago after coming across her profile on the website Meet-An-Inmate and thought she was "drop dead gorgeous." Santiago told the outlet that he wanted to find out how a "person that beautiful" found themselves "in such a bad predicament." 

Cast member Angela Ables' introduction to future boyfriend Tony was similar, as she thought her inmate beau was "young and hot," as reported by Fox News. Ables added that after viewing Tony's online profile, she felt he was "ambitious" and that "he had a lot of potential."

Despite these couples' admittedly "superficial" starts, the bonds seemingly strengthened after building trust that the inmates were not pursuing pen pal relationships for manipulative purposes — though maintaining these romances was no easy task. Santiago, for example, shared that developing a romance with someone who's locked up is hard because phone calls can be unpredictable, adding, "If you're still lucky to have a chance to do visitations, you still have just under an hour.... to have a conference via teleconference."

Fighting with the Love After Lockup fandom

Reality TV stars and social media drama often go hand-in-hand, and Love After Lockup is no different. According to Hollywood Life, cast member and former inmate Brittany Santiago was angry with fans for accusing her lover, Marcelino, for being, as one person put it, "super controlling, disrespectful, and insecure." Brittany was quick to take to Twitter after learning about these negative opinions about her future husband: "I'm so confused! Marcelino enters my life with no judgment of my past and says he wants to love and support me and my son and never see me go back to prison... and he's an a**hole? WTF? #mindblown."

Despite Brittany's protests, the couple's on-screen relationship was allegedly volatile, with fans interpreting some of Marcelino's supposed behavior as controlling and bullying. In June 2019, the newly married pair shared that they'd welcomed a daughter named Zoila in an exclusive interview with Reality Tea. Their little girl joined Brittany's son, Giovanni, and solidified the family of four. At the time of the interview, the couple was preparing to appear on Life After Lockup and both seemed to be staying on the straight and narrow.

Making legal bank on Love After Lockup

Even though the cast on most reality shows are not actors, that doesn't mean they don't get paid for their time on the small screen. According to a contract obtained by Starcasm, the Love After Lockup stars reportedly receive $2,000 per episode. Each cast member also earns an extra $250 for appearing on special reunion and follow-up installment episodes. However, Starcasm notes that since the cast is on rotation, the same faces don't always appear in each episode — which differentiates the total amount of money each star might make per season.

The first season of Love After Lockup featured seven episodes, while the second season extended to at least 24 episodes, giving certain couples a chance to rake in more dough, as the outlet suggested. The tab also reported on a rumor that only non-inmates were actually paid for appearing on the show, but the legitimacy of this speculation could not be confirmed.

The reality of imprisonment is highlighted on Love After Lockup

More than just a series that focuses on complicated relationships, Love After Lockup offers viewers a look into the reality of those who become incarcerated and how hard transitioning back into "normal" life can be, according to Reality Blurred. In the way MTV's 16 and Pregnant impacted the rate of teen childbearing and the challenges of young parenthood, as reported by The National Bureau of Economic Research, Love After Lockup and its follow-up series are shining a spotlight the realities of prison, post-prison life, and how it impacts those relationships. These stories are undoubtedly relatable to viewers, especially since America accounts for 655 inmates for every 100,000 people (via the World Prison Brief). According to the Sentencing Project, the United States "is the world's leader in incarceration," with 2.2 million people locked up as of 2017, which accounts for a 500% increase over the last four decades. 

When viewers watch the series and get to know the couples, "there's a sense that this could be my brother" or "this could be my father," Elizabeth Barfoot Christian, a Lousiana College professor of media and communication, told The New York Times. According to the publication, Love After Lockup and its spin-off series have joined a familiar trend in recent scripted and unscripted shows, which humanize convicts by focusing on "families and friendships over rap sheets."

Sarah and Michael Simmons' Love After Lockup cheating scandal

While Love After Lockup gives a sympathetic look at con-life during and after incarceration, the show's popularity ultimately stems from the couples and their relationships. Oftentimes, the drama escalates, such as when cast members Sarah Simmons and husband Michael became embroiled in a cheating scandal. The former claimed to Radar Online that she was shocked when Michael allegedly cheated on her, but didn't "feel like [her] side is out there." Sarah explained, "I didn't know the extent of their relationship. I didn't know what he was telling her about me and my daughter. But I didn't find out that he actually told her about me. So when we had that meeting in that hotel on film, she came to me as if she didn't know anything about me and that's false."

Sarah went on to claim that the show cut out footage of her and Michael going out to dinners, and instead included more coverage of her husband with the woman he apparently cheated with, Megan. Sarah added that when Michael ended up back in jail, she broke up with him and moved to New York, because "the way we were living wasn't suitable for a child." As for Michael, the convict claimed that he only stayed in his supposedly "toxic" relationship with Sarah in order to remain close to their daughter (via Heavy).

Lock After Lockup's Tracie Wagaman found herself back in hot water

Former Love After Lockup cast member and felon Tracie Wagaman faced more prison time off-screen after she was arrested in August 2019 for alleged possession of a controlled substance (via Reality TV World). Wagaman was held on $5,000 bail, before she posted her bond and was released later that month, according to Starcasm, which reported that her husband, Clint Brady, had also been arrested at the same time. The outlet notes that Brady was charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, before being released that same day on a $308 bond. 

With Wagaman having a prior felony on her record, her charge may carry a huge weight during sentencing. Starcasm cited a conversation on Avvo, in which Criminal Defense Attorney Martin Ben Zimmerman discussed a similar charge. He noted that, depending on the number of grams of the controlled substance with which Wagaman was allegedly found, she could potentially be charged with a "2nd degree felony under the laws of the State of Texas." This could include a "minimum of 2 years to a maximum of 20 years" behind bars, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.

Breaking up following Love After Lockup

Love doesn't always last, which is part of what makes a couple's reality show so relatable. Love After Lockup offers a glimpse of time into each cast member's life with each other, navigating relationships during and after a loved one has been locked up. However, not many TV viewers know what comes after the cameras shut off, including which couples are thriving ... and which have fallen apart. 

According to Heavy, it seems likely that Tracie Wagaman and husband Clint Brady have called it quits following plenty of ups and downs and more issues with the law. As of this writing, this breakup (and possible reconciliation) speculation has yet to be confirmed. However, the outlet notes that Wagaman allegedly took to social media to sell her wedding ring — leading fans to believe these two are not together anymore. 

Meanwhile, Lizzie Kommes and Scott Davey also had a bumpy time after a "mystery woman" appeared in Davey's Instagram Stories. In a since-deleted Instagram post, shared by Heavy, Kommes wrote that she was "really upset that Scott has a picture of another woman" on his social media. Davey denied that he'd had an affair. However, the two appear to have separated, considering Kommes posted on Instagram in September 2019 that she'd moved on with a man named Dru and was "very happy." 

Andrea and AJ previously co-starred on Stage Moms of LA

For a couple of Love After Lockup stars, this isn't their first rodeo stepping into the reality/docuseries spotlight. Before appearing on the series, Andrea and her friend, AJ, popped up on Stage Moms of LA (via Starcasm). Respectively starring alongside daughters Nyla and Ava, Salt Lake City natives Andrea and AJ joined a handful of other parents attempting to kick off their children's showbiz careers.

The outlet shared an introductory video clip of AJ and Ava, during which the mom explained why she felt they were ready for a Los Angeles lifestyle change: "We're different. We're awesome! We're Mormon, which is so cool! And, you know, did I say we're cute? And there's too many ugly people out there. We need to be, you know, try to know the world how beautiful people can be happy, and it's just all about, you know, not that." ...Okay.

Of course, AJ is best known by Love After Lockup fans for being controversial, to put it lightly, including the following cringe-worthy quote about her friendship with Andrea (via Starcasm): "I always wanted a black friend, and she's a black friend. And, like, there's just not very many black people in Utah!" Yikes.

Love After Lockup's deleted scenes

With cameras following the couples around 24/7, it's impossible to air every single detail during hour-long episodes of Love After Lockup. While editing down each installment, deleted scenes have popped up, giving viewers a small taste of content that was initially left out of the public eye. 

In February 2019, for example, a deleted scene revealed cast member Clint Brady rushing Tracie Wagaman to the parole office before it closed in order to get all of her "appropriate paperwork" and avoid more prison time. Brady was able to get her to the building with only "a few minutes" to spare, preventing the cast member from heading back to prison (that time) and allowing the couple to get married. 

A few other deleted scenes include the first time Matt Frasier's friends and family met his lover, Caitlin Gainer, and how he accidentally revealed the two were engaged. There was also this awkward moment between Andrea and daughter Nyla over Andrea's upcoming wedding to a man named Lamar. Nyla was seemingly uninterested in the nuptials, telling her mom that the wedding was "[her] business," not Nyla's.

So much drama, too little time.