Image courtesy of Netflix
By Ryn Cole
Netflix’s new show entitled The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On may just be the most uncomfortable and entertaining reality television show in years. From the creators of the hit show Love is Blind comes a new dating experience regarding couples in which one person has issued an ultimatum to the other person. The ultimatum? Get married or move on.
The experience is as follows: six couples meet and after a few nights they “technically” break up. The newly-single individuals are then free to mingle and flirt with the other single people in their hotel resort for a week. The goal is to ultimately choose someone other than their previous significant other to be their “trial spouse” to live with for three weeks. After this first trial marriage with a new person, the couples switch back to their original pairings for another three-week trial marriage.
Most of the couples were in relationships lasting over two years that ended overnight, so, naturally, emotions are high throughout the entirety of the show. The majority of the cast are ages 23-25, which, at this point, is relatively young to be pressured into marriage and starting a family. Nonetheless, the entire goal of this experience is for the couples, individually and as partners, to decide which person they believe could be a better fit for their futures and if they are ultimately ready for marriage. After the end of the experience, the couples have three options: to leave with the person they came in with, to leave with the person they met during the experience, or to leave alone.
The six original couples include Madlyn and Colby, Shanique and Randall, Rae and Zay, April and Jake, Alexis and Hunter, and Lauren and Nathan. In the couples’ introductions, the audience gets a glimpse of each relationship, which partner issued the ultimatum, and the problems the couples face. The entire cast have diverse personalities and are for the most part decently likable, besides the fact that they all have large communication issues within their relationships.
All of the couples go through the first week of flirting with new people in front of their significant others, which is exceedly uncomfortable to watch. As expected, most individuals are not pleased with being in the same room as their long-term partner as they openly giggle with other people, trying to win their affection. On top of this, while making other connections, they talk about the things they do not like in their relationships with each other in group settings, which consistently ends in tears and hurt feelings.
At the end of the week, the 12 single people sit down for dinner with the hosts, Nick and Vanessa Lachey, where they make a decision on who their trial spouse will be. Before the end of the dinner, two original couples decided to get engaged and left the experience before even giving it a chance. For one of these couples, Alexis and Hunter, their relationship problems had not been mended, and the rest of the cast felt as though they were not at all ready for marriage. After much awkward silence and a whole lot of tears, the remaining four couples pair up and begin their three weeks together with a new partner.
While trying to navigate a new relationship and work on themselves, the cast also fight feelings of jealousy regarding the partner they entered with on the show. There are numerous different nights where the girls and guys hang out with each other, which packs each episode full of drama. For example, they openly talk about their sexual chemistry with their trial spouses in front of that person’s long-term partner. Many of the couples also introduce their fake spouses to their family members in order to get outside opinions on whether or not they are ready to get married.
At the end of these three weeks, the couples switch back and even more tensions arise as the couples decide who they want to marry at the end of the show. At the end of the experience, the couples make their final decisions on who to stay with and who to break up with.
While this first season only has nine episodes, the audience is also given a reunion episode in which the couples describe where they are today since the show has been filmed, and spoiler alert: much has changed since the final episode. Someone is pregnant, someone comes out as bisexual, and some of the couples have broken up.
This show truly has some of the most intense and drama-filled episodes of reality television as of late. The experience, no matter what the outcome was for the couples, helped each person gain clarity on themselves and their relationship style. The entire premise of the show is both hilariously awkward and deeply emotional for the cast. The Ultimatum is definitely worth a watch for anyone who loves reality television and intense, real-life relationship drama.