To To marry or not to marry is the central dilemma The ultimatum: Marry or move on. Within minutes we meet six couples at a crossroads where they must decide whether to get engaged or break up permanently. It’s a bump that many viewers can probably relate to, but things get weird fast.
All six couples must break up and enter into a relationship with one half of another couple also on the show. For three weeks, each participant lives with their new partner to see if someone else’s lawn is greener. Then everyone decides whether to get back together with their original partner, meet up with their new partner, or go away alone. It’s a mess.
The ultimatum appeared to be primed this month love is blind, a true gem in Netflix’s romance-reality crown. The new show was presented at the end love is blind‘s reunion episode last month and is also presented by real-life couple Nick and Vanessa Lachey. With a trailer that featured dramatic cutaways, cheeky confessions and tearful confrontations, it promised irresistible scandals around every corner. Of course, The Ultimatum was never a deep dive into the dynamics of psychological relationships. We all know that reality TV has to be taken with a pinch of salt. But unfortunately, The ultimatum takes so much salt you almost throw up.
In the first episode, Nick Lachey says of the contestants, “Psychologists agree that an ultimatum isn’t a good way to get someone else to do what you want.” With that in mind, this show certainly would have had the pitching room should stay – the guy we should trust, the host, has just admitted that the show’s foundation is deeply flawed.
The Lacheys try to justify the concept by explaining that they blossomed after Vanessa gave Nick an ultimatum five years into their relationship. They broke up and tried to date other people. However, the temporary separation made them realize they were a great couple, and the two got back together soon after and began wedding preparations. This may be a nice story for them, but it doesn’t serve as a legitimate reason to test this formula on the public. The more the show tries to convince us that it makes sense, the more cynical it seems. The ultimatum would do better if it dropped the facade and revealed its true motivation: drama.
The concept of having to find a new partner from a limited pool is another eyesore The ultimatum‘s side – it provokes desperation for the cast to find someone to take them. Instead of trying to establish something real outside of their original pairing, everyone just wants to save face. Madlyn, who is less willing to marry than her boyfriend Colby, sets her sights on fellow cast member Randall early on.
She lets him know when it comes to sex, “There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to please you.” It’s forced and makes everyone cringe. Still, in an environment so constructed, it’s no surprise that everyone plays in front of the camera. Another contestant, April, is keen for her partner Jake to pop the question – although she often seems more interested in coming up with TV-friendly catchphrases. Everyone involved seems so aware of the goal of making compelling television that it’s hard to enjoy the finished product.
But as the series develops, there are a few moments that feel real. One couple wrestles with whether or not to have children, while another comes to terms with the fact that they may have nothing in common at all. And, of course, some ultimatums ring wedding bells. But in trying to meet so many of the criteria that make a compelling reality program, The ultimatum ends up spoiling the joy of what this genre should be. While it could still end up being a ratings hit, this new romance experiment is too far-reaching a manipulation. Maybe we can have too much of a good thing after all.
The Ultimatum episodes one through eight are available now on Netflix, with new episodes releasing every Wednesday.
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/features/the-ultimatum-netflix-show-b2052026.html Netflix’s The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On is reality TV manipulation taken way too far