Reality television shows have been quite a crowd-pleaser since the advent of television. The OTT space has gotten a taste for it and managed to foray into this genre. Netflix itself has given a platform to so many shows, such as Love is Blind, Indian Matchmaking, Too Hot to Handle, In Real Love, What the Love! and The Ultimatum: Queer Love. These shows have multiple editions with many seasons under their belt, which proves there is an audience for this kind of content. Many take this seriously, and for the rest, it is just a guilty pleasure.
This ten-episode, overstretched dating reality show begins with the previous season’s hosts, Vanessa Lachey and Nick Lachey, bringing forward five couples who have given their respective partners an ultimatum to marry them. The whole idea behind this demand put forward by the partner is to understand their better half’s intention with this relationship. The couples participating in this show have been in a relationship for more than a year. A rather unsubtle way to let their partner know that the entire trajectory of the relationship must go their way or the highway The couple temporarily splits up and dates other participants for a very brief period to understand the other person’s perspective on commitment. All of them come back to their original partner to make a final decision about their relationship.
We have Kat and Alex, Riah and Trey, Roxanne and Antonio, Lisa and Brian, and James and Ryann. The second season of The Ultimatum: Queer Love gets them to mix and match to understand each other’s likes and dislikes and finally make a choice. The title of the show itself has a negative ring to it. No relationship, be it friendship, marriage, or a long-term commitment, will ever survive if it gets to the point where one of the partners is issuing an ultimatum. But the makers of this show gave it a positive spin just for the sake of grabbing the attention of the target audience. The host couple, Vanessa and Nick Lachey, begin this season by stating that according to psychology, an ultimatum does not test the relationship, but here, the makers are trying to prove a properly researched and backed study wrong. The couples mentioned above are in a steady relationship with some issues. Things could be sorted out if the couple would talk to each other openly or go to a proper counselor. Instead, this show gives them the option of dating other people. This is a bad suggestion because it will only create a bigger rift between the couple.
The idea of marrying someone through either sheer pressure or making a commitment-phobic partner jealous by pairing their partner with another person is morally wrong. This propagates toxic behavior among those who watch content such as this. I refuse to call these kinds of shows cinematic because they never generate anything informative by the end. A partner cannot be forced into an engagement. It is purely emotional extortion.
The messy part begins with the swapping of partners, and the participants try to have multiple conversations about what they expect from their partners. We can’t help but wonder if talking about the same thing all day would be exhausting. The couples might have been given exorbitant remuneration to sit stable and calm in front of the camera, as the producers of the show make all the money from their relationship dilemmas and traumas. The conversation between the new couple gets tedious and drags on very quickly. It feels like this is taking forever to conclude. One cannot spend the entire day conversing about what could be wrong with their previous partner and what they are looking for in the current one. The needless hours wasted on understanding the relationship dynamics of long-term and short-term couples are tiring right from the beginning.
The wafer-thin plot, which is filled with cliched issues and solutions, is something that many of us have seen in other dating reality television shows. The over-the-top dramatization, followed by awkward conversation and fake laughter, makes the viewing experience extremely cringe-worthy. It seems the producers did not put any effort into making this show engaging at all. A female partner states to her new partner that he has betrayed her trust. Of course, this betrayal was bound to happen. The man and the woman in question have known each other only for a few weeks. To expect the man to understand her this early is ludicrous. Such senseless plot points only make the entire show laughable.
Only one of the couples seemed to have issues that emerged as genuine concerns. We hope the man and the woman reach a definite conclusion without causing many issues. In a lot of places, it was hard to comprehend whether the emotions shared by the couple were genuine or not. Many long-term couples were affected by this experiment. One of them had a massive showdown right at the beginning of the show. One partner of another couple had a meltdown by the end of the season because of the trajectory they had gone through since the commencement of the show.
The direction and production of the entire show are shoddy right from the beginning. The background score is cheesy. As a part of product placement, a set of metal wine glasses has been showcased throughout the show. It peaked when the same type of glasses showed up at the restaurant where the couple was meeting a close friend of theirs. The mixer organized for the couples at the beginning of the show is the most cliched way to break the ice and give them an idea of who could be their potential future partner or a contender. Despite a predictable scenario, the conflict was added just for the sake of it. The forced narrative and the contestants having zero camera presence only reduced the show to a campy form of storytelling. At this point, this reality TV show could not be taken seriously.
Ultimatum: Marry or Move On humiliated the couples who took part in it. The show is an embarrassment for the next order. As the title suggests, the makers should move on to produce some sensible shows in the OTT space.