'The Ultimatum: Queer Love' Is Surprisingly Good

The Netflix series was absolutely horrific when it premiered last year, but it turns out the new franchise is far more bearable when men are not involved.

“The Ultimatum: Queer Love” is here and much more interesting than its predecessor “The Ultimatum.” It premiered on Netflix May 24 and follows five couples consisting of women, femmes and gender-nonconforming individuals. The drama, spice and overall excitement of this iteration of the dating reality show is aplenty. And per usual, we’re here to chat out all the nuances and nonsense the show provides from the eyes of Ruth Etiesit Samuel, Kelby Vera and Taryn Finley.

Get into our first blog of a few from this inaugural season. And, of course, spoilers ahead.

P.S. It’s about damn time Netflix gives us an exclusively queer reality dating show!

Lexi Called Out 'The Ultimatum' Villain — And We Couldn't Get Enough

Lexi shot up to one of my favorites on the list when she called Vanessa out for exactly who and what she is: a clown.

What was interesting about this dynamic initially was that Lexi and her partner Rae were both dating Vanessa with the potential to become her trial wife ... until their final date. She was excited about Vanessa’s antics initially, but also had concerns about whether or not Vanessa actually wanted marriage. Lexi used that date to answer all the questions she had about Vanessa’s intentions and found out that Vanessa is actually very disinterested in getting married and made "yuck" sounds at the thought of being serious with someone as put-together and thorough as Lexi. No amount of charm or tap dancing could save Vanessa from the reading Lexi was about to give her. I mean she absolutely ripped her to shreds and Vanessa deserved every moment of it.

When Vanessa admits that she doesn’t want to grow closer to anyone else, Lexi’s energy shifts from intrigued to irate. Lexi hates the fact that Vanessa is on the show for shits and giggles. And even more, she hates that Rae ends up coupled up with Vanessa. And though Lexi swears she doesn’t even want to say Vanessa’s name again, we see that most of her screen time is dedicated to complaining about her. She’s gotten under her skin in a big way. Vanessa is about to become Lexi and Rae’s undoing, not because of any romantic attachment, but due to utter chaos. She’s a true reality TV villain. — Taryn

Vanessa, once again, is not a serious person. Moreover, the way Vanessa engaged with and oversexualized Rae’s ex-girlfriend Lexi immediately was startling. I’ll never forget when Lexi said that every time Vanessa and her went on a date, she’d always mention Lexi’s breasts. At one point, Lexi said Vanessa can be “wildly inappropriate and slightly offensive ... but she probably could kill me in my sleep.” To me, that was just a major red flag. Because what are you here for, genuinely? For vibes? What conversations of substance are you even attempting to broach?

Then Vanessa told Lexi, in so many words, that she could not fathom Xander being attracted to anyone else on their trial dates. I was just ... baffled at the narcissism. Because, once again, what are you here for? — Ruth

Lexi could have saved herself some trouble if she trusted her gut feeling about Vanessa. She immediately notices something about Vanessa that makes her “uncomfortable,” but their flirty banter keeps her playing with fire.

While I usually wince at alcohol as a truth serum, I loved how Lexi took Vanessa down half-a-bottle of tequila in during their last date. The way Lexi’s face turns to stone when Vanessa laughs and admits she has nothing at stake: delicious. And what an absolute monster to assume dear Xander is just waiting for your demonic self. — Kelby

This 'Ultimatum' Couple Could Actually Make It

I love that Mal just asked the question immediately: Have you ever dated a Black person? Because we’re not beating around the bush about identity, values, and politics if we are to be married. As I said during the last season of “Love Is Blind,” love is not blind, and it sure isn’t colorblind. If you pull an “I don’t see race” on me? Then I don’t see myself in this relationship! Bye!

I think Mal’s answer was fine and honest. Like, no shade; if Mal thought it was fine for her, it was fine. I appreciated the humility when Lexi was like, “Yeah, I’m not gonna pretend I know everything.” I enjoy them a lot. I think the ease with which they discussed familial values, partnership and vulnerability was really, really impressive. (Going to remind y’all again that Lexi is 24 — and we Gen Zers do have depth! Surprise!) — Ruth

Gonna say, these are two of my favorite people on the show and their chemistry is great. The flirty moments interspersed with vulnerable conversations make me think they really have a chance, even given the fact Lexi gave the ultimatum and Mal was on the fence with Yoly. One concern, however: When Mal mentioned she dated a teammate, I did take a deep breath. Don’t be a heartbreaker, please! — Kelby

They’re cute! I like them. But, Kelby, you know with that height and them dimples that Mal is a heartbreaker. I do think she likes Lexi and is taking the process seriously, but I doubt that she takes Lexi seriously. Mal is kind, vulnerable enough and easy to like. She’s also 36 and it’s going to be much easier to point out the immaturities in Lexi with that age difference. It’s already poking through, as Lexi has spent most of her time on-screen stressed about Vanessa, which is understandable. — Taryn

Despite being a Mal apologist, I will say that you all are correct. As Taryn alluded to earlier, Mal has been in the streets; at some point, she said that she hadn’t been on this many dates until right before she met Yoly. I don’t even like the idea of dating someone in my industry or profession, so I can’t even fathom dating a teammate. And yes, I agree that the age gap is ... significant. — Ruth

Rae's Laid-Back Attitude Is A Playground For A Serial Gaslighter Like Vanessa

Every time I hear Rae say she admires how fun and different Vanessa is, I feel like she’s trying to convince herself. Even when they get physical, Rae seems to be conflicted and it’s horrifying to see Vanessa make light of her boundaries and concerns. — Kelby

Whew! Lexi was right. I see why she was so concerned about Rae coupling with Vanessa. Rae is easily influenced and Vanessa is literally the devil. Just a nasty, nasty person with no regard for how her actions impact anyone around her. I truly believe Vanessa was attracted to Rae because she’s an easy target. That’s no shade to Rae, but her laissez-faire attitude is a playground for a serial gaslighter.

Rae truly felt guilty about being intimate with Vanessa to the point where she felt she needed to confess to Lexi. And Vanessa felt nothing. It was to the point where she admitted that she had no feelings or attractions to Rae when confronted about it at the group dinner. It’s all very ugly.

Also, who the hell goes to get their nipples pierced with basically a stranger? Vanessa knew what she was doing taking that photo with Rae next to her boobs talking about some, “This is for Lexi.” Girl bye, with your calculated ass. Go to hell! — Taryn

Let me just say this one thing: The notion that your partner must be so exciting, the relationship must be exhilarating and sparks should fly? That needs to be dispelled. “Fun” and “different” and “off the cuff” is just insufficient. When Vanessa said, “You are so not someone I feel like I understand easily,” and Rae responded with, “Why do you need to understand someone? Isn’t there a good nervousness?” My internal alarms sounded. Beyond the initial interactions, your partner should bring you ease; you should feel secure around them and at peace, not waiting for the next ball to drop or another one of their antics. — Ruth

Sam And Tiff Are Beefing ... Over A Pet?

Y’all are beefing over ... a pet? Be serious. Like, what did y’all even talk about during your dates? If marrying a dog lover was a non-negotiable priority, that should’ve been discussed. And to be completely frank, I genuinely think these two were paired because Mildred rejected Tiff’s Hail Mary to recouple when they were at the dining table. — Ruth

Sam got the short end of the stick several times already and we’re only four episodes in. Tiff don’t want you, Aussie is a noncommittal child who doesn’t know how to emote and you’re getting embarrassed whenever you get camera time. I feel bad for her, truly.

And Tiff needs to clean out their ears because they don’t listen to anybody. — Taryn

This is exhausting. Tiff only knows how to handle problems at an 11 and Sam seems to be conditioned to just weather the storm after years of Aussie’s emotional fumbling. — Kelby

Aussie Keeps Short-Circuiting — And This Is About To Be A Trainwreck

It’s so funny seeing how shit goes from zero to 100 with them so drastically.

First off, Aussie’s friend, Mo, checked Aussie while she and Mildred were at a restaurant together. Mo questioned how serious Aussie was about considering marriage because of Aussie’s ongoing commitment issues. This was news to Mildred — and Aussie didn’t like it at all. Things just go downhill from there as Mildred, who isn’t afraid to say what she feels, confronts Aussie about carrying all the weight in the relationship and Aussie doesn’t want to hear it.

Aussie has very “go along to get along” energy and even though that can be seen as mild and apathetic, it’s actually very dangerous and disrespectful. It’s not giving what Aussie thought it gave. — Taryn

Wild. From the moment Mildred met Mo it was clear she wasn’t listening to a word anyone else was saying. This, paired with Aussie’s utter inability to process, means Aussie basically short-circuits during even the most minor conflict. -– Kelby

LOL. “Short-circuit” is sending me! I have no other thoughts. Y’all summarized it well. Because this is just … a trainwreck. — Ruth

Xander And Yoly Are About To Stir Up A Whole Bunch Of Drama On 'The Ultimatum'

It’s honestly perfect that these two lovergirls are falling in love and are about to be in love with two people at the same time and have to figure out who they love more. It makes for some great TV. Because I know the drama that’s coming is about to be juicy as hell. As soon as Xander shifted her chair to get closer to Yoly, I said, oh, these two are going to be living in each other’s skin for the next three weeks. And did! Down to inside jokes.

I got a cavity watching these two and I can’t wait for the drama that’s coming because this is exactly what Mal was talking about when she said Yoly falls in love with everybody. And Vanessa? Oh baby, her selfish ass is about to be SICK. — Taryn

The funniest part about these two is that they were both so sure they’d be returning to their original partners. Now, look at ‘em. Rubbing feet and falling in love. — Ruth

Aussie Is 42 But Acting Like A 24-Year-Old On 'The Ultimatum'

I don’t even know what to say about these two. Aussie is just ... not emotionally intelligent or emotionally available. Bless Aussie’s heart. I mean that. — Ruth

Sam really volunteers to deal with that and has the nerve to want to get married to Aussie so bad that she’d issue an ultimatum? It just couldn’t be me. Aussie is 42 but acting like a 24-year-old. Whatever patriarchal views she has is honestly fucking the whole vibe up on this show. On top of that, there’s just nothing interesting about their love story. 0/10. — Taryn

The way Aussie practically has a panic attack when they’re talking about Sam’s ultimatum was so telling. Aussie couldn’t conjure anything better than “Eeee! Commitment!” even for TV? — Kelby

Like, conflict is healthy, Aussie. Get fucking real, OK. — Taryn

I shouldn’t be laughing as hard as I am reading the phrase “panic attack,” but truly, Aussie instantly shuts down when any uncomfortable discussion arises. At your big age, please, for the love of god, confront things head-on! — Ruth

Lexi Proves That Gen Zers Can Have Depth On 'The Ultimatum'

Lexi is 24 but acts like she’s 42. Meanwhile Rae is a little butterfly just letting the wind carry her away. You see the issue here already?

Lexi takes herself and her relationship very seriously. (Is she a Capricorn?) Her mom is a wedding planner and her dad sells engagement rings. She’s a very logical person and set on what she wants, and Rae is the complete opposite. Even the way Lexi talks about carrying certain responsibilities in the relationship (like reminding Rae, 27, to go to the doctor) shows you how mature she is.

But as put-together as Lexi is, she’s very clear in what she wants and Rae just isn’t. In fact, it feels like Rae has a lot more exploration she wants to do in life to learn about what she wants and doesn’t want before getting married, which is OK. But I get the feeling by the way Lexi talks about Rae in certain situations that she’s not willing to accept that. — Taryn

Shoutout to Lexi for not completely embarrassing Gen Z this season! As a 23-year-old, I do enjoy a fellow old soul. I appreciate that Lexi takes marriage seriously, but I hope that she recognizes that there is no way to coerce your partner into believing the same thing. If y’all are not aligned, it just won’t work. — Ruth

These two seem sweet together, but I can’t help but feel that the more certain Lexi is about their future, the more unconvinced Rae seems. First she chocks it up to having impossibly high standards, but if Lexi plays the caretaker, as she says, what is the perfect life Rae is imagining? — Kelby

Mildred And Tiff Are Giving Red Flags On 'The Ultimatum'

Whew! It’s getting horny in here! Mildred and Tiff are a very physical couple, which is great. But Mildred, who gave Tiff the ultimatum, is clearly fed up with Tiff only being able to connect on that level and not being able to go deeper emotionally. And to be honest, I don’t expect anybody searching for booty via an Instagram hashtag to take shit seriously.

Also, we see that Mildred and Tiff have this on-again, off-again dynamic that feels extremely toxic. And I’m sure a big part of that is because the two can’t get on the same page emotionally. Mildred honestly doesn’t even need to look to Tiff for a civil union at this point until therapy comes into the conversation. ASAP. — Taryn

OK, so ... Tiff saying that they looked up “#latinxlesbian” or “#lesbianlatinx” on Instagram and that’s how they found Mildred? (Per the lack of a country flag in her Instagram bio, I don’t think Tiff is Latinx.) My first reaction was “Bombastic side eye!” as people say on TikTok. While historically, you may have been attracted to a ... specific demographic, and while we live in the digital age, that admission just ... made me feel uncomfortable. I wouldn’t necessarily say it erred on the side of fetishizing ... but it was troubling.

And on the note of toxicity, the fact that their couples therapist gave up on them? Honey. Pack it UP. — Ruth

Whenever I hear a couple describe their dynamic as “fiery,” I see red flags all around. Why do we have to fight, guys? You’ve only been together for two years, it should not be this hard. And their Instagram meet-cute was anything but adorable. — Kelby

Something Is Off With This 'Ultimatum' Couple

Yoly and Mal give us our first astrology mention seven minutes in and while we love a Virgo who plans for the future, I can’t help but think something else is itching at Mal. When we learn Yoly falls hard, Mal’s wariness makes more sense. It’s scary to be vulnerable when you think you’ve seen this before. — Kelby

I like this couple a lot. I like the way they’re able to communicate with each other so far in what feels like radical ways, but something is off. There’s real love here, but it feels like there’s a piece missing when it comes to them being in sync about how to mutually achieve what they want, as self aware as each of them may be. And that’s OK ... except for when you want marriage to be the next step so soon.

Yoly wants marriage, kids, the whole nine. She’s also a lovergirl (we’ll get to that later) so she romanticizes A LOT. Mal is more practical when it comes to wanting to be more financially established before committing to marriage. But she also knows that Yoly is a lovergirl and is also hesitant to commit because Yoly apparently falls in love easily. And honestly, I think that may carry more weight for Mal over the finances. As emotionally mature as Mal is, you can tell that she’s prideful and has some trepidations because she doesn’t want to get hurt (read: look dumb).

Mal, also, feels a little familiar to the streets with her fine ass. And I get it. Because divorce is more taxing than just walking away and welcoming a new rotation back into your life. — Taryn

*looks around before typing* I’m a Mal apologist. *scurries off*
I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I know, I know. *hangs head in shame* In theory, when it comes to marrying someone, they say, “When you know, you know.” But when you know is not necessarily when you should immediately act on it. Now, don’t twiddle your thumbs! Make your intentions clear, but please, at the very least, have the money for the ring. If you’re comfortable, you can have a long engagement to iron out all the other details, etc.

It does not sit right with my Gemini sun, Capricorn moon spirit to venture into this contract called marriage without the funds ….funding, if you know what I mean. I totally agree with Mal here. Not everything has to or will be perfect — because one thing I’ve learned during my brief stint in adulthood is that if it’s not one thing, it will surely be another — but Mal did make it clear that she wants to marry Yoly. Just not right away.

What I think is interesting is what y’all brought up, Kelby and Taryn. I do see where Mal is coming from, because your partner needs to be able to articulate what makes you so distinctly different and special in comparison to previous partners, especially if they have a tendency to romanticize everything and everyone. — Ruth

We Already Have A Villain On 'The Ultimatum' — And She Is Pure Evil

I instantly get bad vibes from Vanessa. True opp behavior, through and through. She is a deeply unserious person and purported “free spirit” who claims to doubt the institution of marriage when, in reality, Vanessa wants license to exert control over people, namely Xander. You can’t dangle the prospect of marriage in front of your partner — just to keep them in your life indefinitely — when you know that you will never be swayed. That ego, insecurity and selfishness shone through. And I imagine that being in a long-term relationship with the first person you came out to (besides a few friends) is very impactful, but these two need to part ways. — Ruth

Where do I start with these two? Chile. Xander is such a sweetheart and lovergirl and deserves so so so much better. Like you said, Ruth, Vanessa is bad vibes to the umpteenth power. She’s manipulative and self-centered to the point where I feel like there could be some narcissism there. I love that Yoly clocked it early when Vanessa asked if they should say who their top picks are like two hours after the first group mixer.

I honestly see how lovergirl Xander ended up swept up on Vanessa’s evil ass. She’s wrapped up in Vanessa’s manipulative ways disguised as an outgoing, quirky personality. We’re already seeing signs of gaslighting when Xander ends up making another connection, which we’ll get into later. I’m honestly glad Xander gave Vanessa’s unserious ass the ultimatum and I hope she follows through on the experiment this season and sees Vanessa for who she really is. Xander needs to leave her ass in the dust. — Taryn

Of course reality loves a villain, but Vanessa is pure evil. It seems like Vanessa is demanding amusement while Xander is a dear who wants a solid partner, not someone who plays games like a carny. The “I want to be free” song and dance is a manipulator’s favorite tune, and I can see Vanessa pulling that lever in any relationship, trial or not, so it’s hard to imagine how she’ll even engage with the experiment. Definitely not here for “the right reasons.” — Kelby

'The Ultimatum' Is Far More Bearable When Men Aren't Involved

Besides the fact that I was thrilled that Nick and Vanessa Lachey are not hosting this (though I believe enlisting a queer host would’ve been best), it was refreshing and fascinating to see the ease with which women and gender-marginalized people discussed intimacy and sensuality, gender roles and emotions. The mantle of representation is a heavy one to carry and to be clear, by no means should one singular series be tasked with portraying perfect depictions of an entire marginalized group. However, “The Ultimatum” franchise is far more bearable when men are not involved.

Don’t get me wrong: I firmly believe that if my imaginary man and I have to do something like this show to figure out whether we want to be married, we need to pack it up and call it quits. Immediately. “The Ultimatum: Marry Or Move On” was absolutely horrific. There are several people in “The Ultimatum: Queer Love” that fundamentally do not need to be together, have shaky communication, are emotionally unavailable — the list goes on. But nonetheless, this made me gag less! — Ruth

Agreed on every point, Ruth. I honestly didn’t want them to continue this franchise because of how cringe that series was last year, but see what happens when you don’t involve men and Nick and Vanessa Lachey? Good TV. — Taryn

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