Netflix’s The Ultimatum Is a Reality TV Dumpster Fire

Nick and Vanessa Lachey

Previously on “Netflix dating trash,” America collectively agreed that Shake from love is blind season 2 was a walking pile of garbage. During the reunion special of that season of “love is blind but these red flags ain’t,” Nick and Vanessa Lachey announced a brand-new series. Unlike love is blind, The Ultimatum focuses on couples who are already in a relationship. One person in the relationship is ready for marriage but the other is hesitant about popping the question.

Six couples are brought together after one has issued an ultimatum. For a week, the couples separate and start dating among the group for a chance to start a relationship with someone else. Once they start that new relationship, they “simulate marriage” for three weeks, then return to their previous relationship for another three weeks of “simulated marriage.” Then? They decide on who they want to marry.

Much like love is blind, the episodes are aired in chunks over the period of a couple of weeks. Even if you’re familiar with how much of a shitshow love is blind ended up being, you honestly still aren’t prepared for how bonkers this series gets. There are the parts you expect from the trailer, like folks realizing that maaaaybe coming on a show where you’re encouraged to date other people miiiiight lead to your partner making a connection with someone else, but there are other parts that are SO messy that it gets uncomfortable to watch.

The most frustrating part is right in the first couple of episodes with Nick and Vanessa explaining the show and, later, asking everyone how they feel after going through the first round of “the experience.” Arguably, most (if not all) of dating reality shows feel unnecessary, but The Ultimatum made me scream, “WHAT are you DOING?!”

These couples haven’t been together for that long

The first thing that struck me, right off the bat, is the amount of time these couples have been together. In hindsight, I’m not sure why I thought these would be long relationships? Maybe because that’s what comes to mind when you think about someone issuing an ultimatum. “We’ve been together for 10 years,” or “15 years” or “20 years”—a significant chunk of time that probably includes living together (I’ll get to that), maybe sharing a bank account, things of that nature.

In The Ultimatum, the longest length of time a couple has been together is 2 1/2 years. The shortest? A year and a half. That’s not a whole lot of time, especially when Nick and Vanessa reveal that they were together for FIVE years before the subject of an ultimatum came up.

Not every issue is about “wondering what it’s like to be with someone else”

One of the things the Lacheys say is that the reason why people are hesitant to commit to is because they want to know what else is out there. What would life be like with someone else? What’s interesting is that several of these couples have issues that have nothing to do with wanting to be with another person. There are a few “I want to see what else is out there before I commit” couples, but major issues like “she doesn’t want children, but he does” and “I want my finances in order” are also brought up.

Assuming that someone questioning getting married is because they want to explore being with other people is downplaying valid concerns—not that I expected something exceptionally deep from the creators of love is blind.

What part of this simulates marriage?

The main part of the show is when the couples go through the three-week marriage crash course, which boils down to going on fun dates, meeting your partner’s loved ones, going out with the rest of the cast for maximum discomfort of “I have feelings for your partner,” and living together. That’s about it.

It’s absolutely mindboggling to me that a lot of these couples haven’t even lived together before deciding to go so far as to issue an ultimatum. How in the world did you jump straight to that when you don’t even share the bills and the bathroom sink? There are also no major conversations you’d expect to come up in what is supposed to be a marriage. Do you two make enough of an income together? How much space do you need to live in once you’re out of the apartment they provide you? Any goals? Dreams? Farts?

Okay, some do have pets, but they’re just … in the scene. The end.

Weirdly enough, love is blind did a better job with having the couples actually TALK about marriage. There were conversations about finances, children, where they were going to live when the show was over, even scenes of them REALLY getting used to the idea of ​​living with the person (shoutout to Nick discovering Danielle’s costumes). The Ultimatum is a lot of “I was ready to get married/I wasn’t ready to get married” but not a lot of moment of them going through the motions, despite supposedly “simulating” marriage.

And when they come back together with their original partners? LOL! Drama. Wall to wall drama.

all in all, The Ultimatum feels like watching a group of people who have no business issuing any kind of “marry me or else” statement after only being together for 18–30 months. Most of these couples are still in their twenties, don’t live together, and when asked “what do you like about your partner” respond with “can we skip that question?” The show is a trainwreck, which I already knew it would be, but I thought it would be a more enjoyable trainwreck. I wasn’t prepared for “we’ve been dating for two years and disagree on having children, the solution is to make each other jealous by dating other people.”

(Picture: Netflix)

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