The Ultimatum: Queer Love is the type of TV representation the world craves.
The Ultimatum: Queer Love, the all-queer spin-off to The Ultimatum Marry or Move On, premiered on May 24th. Unlike its sister show, Love is Blind, which asks participants, "Is love blind?" The Ultimatum asks, "Is love enough for marriage?"
In the show, we are introduced to couples at the stage of their relationships where one person is not just considering but ready for marriage, and the other is still hesitant about such a big commitment. Due to this disparity in their future as a couple, someone poses an ultimatum: propose, or the relationship is over. But there's a twist.
The five couples that enter "break up" for the show and spend a week dating everyone. At the end of the week, each person chooses someone other than their original partner as their "trial wife." If two people choose each other, they move in together for three weeks for a trial marriage to see where they or their partners could improve to make their relationship advance to the next level. When the trial marriage is complete, everyone moves in with their original partners to simulate marriage together. Ultimately, the ultimatum receivers decide to propose to their partners, propose to their trial wife, or break up and leave alone.
If you've ever seen a dating or marriage show, this show is nothing new. The drama is familiar with couples suffering from a lack of communication, big misunderstandings, and differing values and point of view.
Despite its practically recycled concept, the cast makes this show so unique.
As someone who watches lots of reality tv, I have never even heard of an entire cast that is part of the LGBTQIA+ community, with a few even identifying as nonbinary.
The show features five couples, Vanessa Papa and Xander, Lexi Goldberg and Raelyn, Mal Wright and Yoly Rojas, Tiff Der and Mildred Bustillo, and Sam and Aussie. The cast age ranges from 25 to 42, most in their thirties.
It isn't just their sexual orientation that makes the show so inclusive. The cast is also racially diverse and discusses how their culture impacts their relationships. Mal, a black person, pointed out how their trial wife, Lexi, a Jewish woman, appreciated how their conversations around hair care went. Lexi admitted she didn't understand the intricacies of Mal's hair care but wanted to be supportive in a respectful way. Aussie explains how the expectations of being raised by Asian immigrants affected their ability to cope during stressful situations, the main hurdle in their relationship. During a discussion about showing respect between Tiff and Mildred, a Latina, Mildred uses her background as an excuse to justify her disrespectful nature. Tiff's statement, "Respect has no race," is something that's not said enough.
The show also highlighted the planning that goes into queer people having children. The love triangle between Yoly, Xander, and Mal was the best example. A significant factor in their decisions was finding someone taking steps toward saving enough money to have children.
Something I absolutely loved was Lexi's parents. They are a beautiful example of not just accepting parents but parents who listen and try to understand their kids. They focused on what would make Lexi happy without compromising their values. On the other end of the spectrum, Aussie, the oldest cast member, still has yet to come out to their parents, which is a potential hurdle to their marriage.
Appreciating the diversity in the show can't go without mentioning Lexi's rant during the reunion, where she points out how each queer person or couple can have a different definition of sex. This misunderstanding caused one of the most dramatic storylines of the show.
I don't think the creators of The Ultimatum: Queer Love intended to make such a culturally diverse show that touched on topics that aren't generally discussed on television, but they did. This is a type of representation and inclusivity that just doesn't happen. There is no token queer couple or need to over-explain pronouns. There is an unspoken level of understanding between each person that comes from lived experiences as queer people. More importantly, it didn't show the couples in a way that glamorizes them, making them look perfect like many scripted shows present. These are ordinary people who happen to be queer, searching for a life partner just like everyone else.