“The Ultimatum: Queer Love” Recap: All the Gay Drama in Episodes 1–4

The Ultimatum: Queer Love debuts on Netflix today with the first four episodes of the 10-episode reality dating series. I’m attempting to recap all the highs and lows of the show’s jaw-dropping dyke drama, starting with this recap, which covers all four of the episodes available to stream right now. Next week, I’ll be back with a recap of the next four installments, which drop a week from today. Let’s get into it! Welcome to a The Ultimatum: Queer Love recap of the first four episodes!

First: Let’s get a couple things out of the way. I have not watched the straight version of The Ultimatum! I thought about doing a marathon prior to delving into The Ultimatum: Queer Love, but then I decided it might be more fun to go in with as little information as possible. This did prove to be the move, as the sheer premise of The Ultimatum shocked and delighted me in its absurdity! So, if you too are new to these parts of reality chaos, a primer on the premise, which is explained by the inexplicably straight host of the series, JoAnna Garcia Swisher: In The Ultimatum: Queer Love, couples who have been together for anywhere between 23 months and several years arrive after one has issued the other an ultimatum (the titular role). They must get married or break up. In order to…help?…them make these major life decisions, the couples all must agree, after one final night together, to “break up” — for three weeks. After some rounds of speed dating, they choose a new person from the group to have a three-week trial marriage with, which essentially just means living together for three weeks. They are presumably “allowed” to do anything with these new partners, though it does appear that some couples pre-negotiate terms of what is allowed. Because, oh yeah, these are all presumably monogamous people, otherwise the premise kind of falls apart. After their three week hall pass with strangers, everyone then couples back up with their original partners who they arrived with and do another three-week trial marriage with them while also answering for anything that may have occurred or been kicked up by the previous trial marriage to strangers. In the end, couples will decide to get married, break up, or — the wild card — leave the show with someone new.

I don’t watch a lot of dating reality (I’m a known Bravo Dyke), but I do read and engage with a lot of things about dating reality (like the scripted series UnREAL and novels like Patricia Wants To Cuddle and How To Be Eaten). I am indeed fascinated by the psychology of it all — of the participants but also of the spectators. The Ultimatum: Queer Love is predicated on the assumptions many of these reality dating shows and competitions are: that “soulmates” exist, that romantic compatibility is near-scientific, that it is possible to fall in love in a matter of weeks and removed from the real world. I have to imagine the three-week window specifically employed by The Ultimatum: Queer Love holds some sort of psychological significance. Perhaps that’s the period of time during which New Relationship Energy is its most potent!

I’m sure there will be plenty of time for reflection on the show’s premise as it unfolds, but let’s for now delve into the actual episodes and what occurs therein. I’m going to structure these by episode and then loosely by pairings within those episodes and won’t be covering every single little thing that happens, because there’s a LOT in there! But I’ll touch on the juiciest, most compelling parts of the drama, romance, and emotional rollercoaster. Buckle up!

The Ultimatum: Queer Love Recap – Episode 1

The first part of episode one features the original couples arriving and spending their final nights together, so let’s meet those original couples!

Yoly (34) & Mal (36)

The Ultimatum: Queer Love. (L to R) Yoly and Mal in Season 2 of The Ultimatum.

Simone Thompson/Netflix © 2023

Yoly gave the ultimatum to Mal, and Mal has a couple hesitations about getting married. She wants to have all the financial realities lined up: money for the ring, for the down payment on the house, etc. Mal and Yoly met when Yoly was a men’s stylist at Barneys, and they were friends for a bit before they started dating. But because of their history of friendship, Mal also knows that Yoly tends to talk about every person she dates as “the one” and also that she doesn’t speak to any of her exes.

Lexi (24) & Rae (27)

Rae touches foreheads to Lexi on The Ultimatum

According to Lexi, she met Rae when Rae tried to booty call her. They’ve been together over three years, and Lexi — whose mom is a wedding planner and whose dad is a jeweler — wants to be married and issued the ultimatum to Rae. On the one hand, good for her for knowing what she wants at 24. On the other hand, an ultimatum is so extreme!!!! But that is, I suppose, the name of the game.

Mildred (33) & Tiff (32)

The Ultimatum: Queer Love. (L to R) Tiff and Mildred in Season 2 of The Ultimatum. Cr.

Simone Thompson/Netflix © 2023

Mildred and Tiff started dating after Tiff found Mildred via the #LesbianLatina hashtag on Instagram and sliding into her DMs. They’ve been together a year and 11 months, and Mildred has been married before and has a son. Mildred issued the ultimatum, and both talk a lot about the sex is really good between them. My favorite thing about Mildred and Tiff so far is that they’re very eager to fuck on-screen during their final night together. Good for them! Tiff also casually reveals that they’re constantly breaking up and getting back together. They’re one of those couples!

Xander (30) & Vanessa (30)

The Ultimatum: Queer Love. (L to R) Xander and Vanessa in Season 2 of The Ultimatum. Cr. Simone Thompson/Netflix © 2023

Simone Thompson/Netflix © 2023

Xander and Vanessa met when they were seniors in high school and their boyfriends were best friends. Five years later, they reconnected at a taco truck, and even though Xander was only out to their best friend, they decided to come out to Vanessa then. They’ve been dating for four years, and Xander has issued the ultimatum, explaining their reasoning is because they want to be married and start a family soon. Vanessa, meanwhile, never envisioned a long-term relationship. She doesn’t want permanency and does want freedom, and she sees these desires as incompatible with marriage. Right off the bat, the way Vanessa talks makes me think she’d probably be happier in a polyamorous relationship! The root of her conflict with Xander seems to be their incompatibility in how they view relationships and love. I already think they should break up — but like for real, not in the produced way of all these couples “breaking up” for three weeks for the sake of the show’s premise.

Sam (31) & Aussie (42)

The Ultimatum: Queer Love. (L to R) Sam and Aussie in Season 2 of The Ultimatum. Cr.

Simone Thompson/Netflix © 2023

“When we first touched hands, it was like something you see in the movies,” Sam says. “Time stood still,” Aussie agrees. Sam issued the ultimatum to Aussie and says marriage represents the ultimate commitment to her. Aussie wants to live with Sam for five years before making that commitment. The two of them really cling to each other during the first night while the host is speaking, and it makes me want to root for them to make it through what is really an unhinged replacement for couples therapy.

The Speed Dating

After “breaking up” with their original partners, it’s time for everyone to mix and match. Day one starts poolside, with all the cast members speed dating each other and getting to know each other. They ask the important questions, like what’s your sign, what do you look for in a life partner, and what’s your type. Bizarrely, no one asks anything about what anyone does for work.

Here is where I’m perplexed by imagining the straight version of all this — which is limited in the combinations people can pair off in due to the limits of heterosexuality. Technically, the cast members on this show can mix so many ways! But there are of course some specific dynamics that come into play. Tiff is shocked by how young Lexi is. Tiff and Mal crack up on their speed date together, both admitting they don’t really have much experience dating fellow mascs. Mal makes a joke about finding out who’s a top and who’s a bottom later, and yes, these are the questions I wish everyone was asking! I’d say my priorities for questions on these dates would be:

  1. Are you a top/bottom/switch?
  2. What is your job?
  3. Do you want kids?

Vanessa is loving the speed dating life, despite contending with a very visible sunburn! Xander is having a harder time and admits even before heading into the speed dating that they’re going to be jealous when seeing Vanessa with other people. Sure enough, Xander is openly distracted while on dates at the pool, able to hear Vanessa laughing with everyone. Xander! This is what you signed up for!

Mildred says this is like “going to Dinah Shore all over again,” and I kinda doubt there’s this much talk of marriage happening at Dinah Shore, but sure!

Tiff doesn’t hit it off with Yoly, because Yoly eats meat, and then Rae doesn’t hit it off with Tiff because Tiff doesn’t want kids and that’s a dealbreaker for Rae. It is tbh fascinating to watch strangers discuss marriage with each other. We spend a LOT of time on Vanessa and Rae’s date, on which Vanessa talks about being pansexual, and Rae talks about being kind of shy, an attribute that becomes increasingly apparent as the show unfolds. Rae strikes me as someone who very much does not want to be on reality television and yet is here on reality television.

After hitting it off with Rae, Vanessa then hits it off with Rae’s original partner Lexi, telling her her eyes look like melted chocolate. From a reality drama perspective, it is a very fun move for Vanessa to be playing both sides of this couple. Lexi also hits it off with Mal, who thinks their Capricorn x Virgo matchup is ideal. Interesting! Mal’s original partner Yoly ends up being Xander’s best date, Xander finally letting some walls down.

After the daytime pool date, all the cast members are thrown into a group hang at night, and the outfits are VERY good but especially Mal’s. Vanessa attempts to stir things up by asking everyone to share who their number one is, and everyone hates this for some reason! Yoly especially thinks it’s an annoying question and fires back that if Vanessa weren’t there then she could say she wants to date everyone at the table. Ouch! She already needed something for that sunburn! Vanessa says she wants the whole thing to turn into a polyamorous orgy, and people do not like this either. Oh, Vanessa. I think she’s chaotic but chaotic in a way that plays well in reality television. She’s an ideal candidate for a villain edit, and that makes me immediately drawn to her. Indeed, she pulls both Rae and Lexi aside to tell them both about how they’re her type and how she wants to go on dates with both of them.

The Ultimatum: Queer Love Recap – Episode 2

Episode two starts with everyone going on longer individual dates with people they feel drawn to post-speed dating. Let’s break it down by various pairings:

Lexi & Vanessa

On this first date, Lexi and Vanessa have a picnic oceanside, and Lexi says she can see the devil in Vanessa’s face when she brings up the fact that Vanessa is also flirting with Lexi’s “ex” Rae. Lexi has fun flirting, but she’s also a little scared of Vanessa.

Later in the episode, Vanessa and Lexi go on another date that’s just drinking on a park bench, and things spiral out of control very quickly. Vanessa asks what Lexi thinks about marrying her, and Lexi says it seems like it would be fun. Lexi asks her the same question. “It’s hard for me to imagine marrying anyone,” Vanessa says. Vanessa says the closest to marriage she could get was with Xander and that she doesn’t think Xander could fall in love with anyone else. Vanessa says Xander has told her they might be asexual if not for her, which doesn’t make a ton of sense and also doesn’t align with some of the things Xander talks about in the episode. Vanessa does seem to think she could fall in love with multiple people but cannot imagine it for Xander and might even be jealous at the thought.

Lexi doesn’t like any of what Vanessa is saying, because she thinks she’s unwilling to risk anything or put herself out there. Lexi’s reaction feels outsized a bit. She thinks Vanessa is a fake person, and that could be somewhat true, but Lexi freaking out that Vanessa isn’t respecting “the process” of the show when the process is so…unhinged…is a choice! I also just think Lexi has some jealousy manifesting in weird ways due to Vanessa also having her sights on Rae.

Later, Lexi and Rae have a really uncomfortable moment while waiting in line for drinks with Vanessa, so they end up taking each other aside for a catchup. Rae tells Lexi she thinks she has a physical attraction to Vanessa, and Lexi says she is concerned about her motives for being here. She says she feels like something here is going to blow up their relationship, and yeah babe, that’s a risk you take when going on a show with this premise!

By the way, if you drink, the Ultimatum: Queer Love drinking game I just made up has one rule and it’s drink everyone someone says “the process.”

Lexi & Mal

Okay, I’m kind of obsessed with these together? Even though Lexi was an ultimatum giver and Mal was an ultimatum receiver, they really do feel comfortable relationship-wise. They’re on the same page in terms of relationships requiring work and also it not always being a 50/50 split in a relationship. On this first date, Mal asks Lexi if she has ever dated someone who’s Black, and Lexi admits that she has not and also says she won’t lie but that dating Rae who is Chinese was a learning curve but she’s very willing to learn. I am obsessed with Mal btw. They are hot! They have a good head on their shoulders as far as relationships and longterm partnership. Ultimatums suck, and that is something CONSTANTLY on my mind while watching! Lexi seems drawn to Vanessa’s wildness, but she’s ultimately very comfortable with Mal despite them only just recently meeting. And yet, I’m convinced there’s a real connection there! I’m falling for all of it!

Tiff & Sam

Tiff asks what makes Sam what makes her mad, and Sam says she’s pretty low maintenance, and once again Tiff’s history of fighting a lot with Mildred seems just under the surface of a lot of what they’re saying. Tiff cries on this date, and Sam opens up about having some communication issues with her original partner Aussie.

Aussie & Mildred

Aussie alludes to being on a gender journey on this date with Mildred. “Do I identify as male? Female? What does that look like? Am I trans?” Aussie asks. Mildred says she feels safe talking to Aussie and is supportive of that journey.

Later, Mildred has a tearful conversation with her original partner Tiff and says she has been connecting with other people even though all she wanted was to connect better with Tiff. Once again, people, that’s not how the show works! But Tiff and Mildred deal with this tension the way I’m pretty sure they always do: They make out.

Vanessa & Rae

Vanessa and Rae’s first date is…assembling glow sticks on a park bench under a blanket at night? Rae is so shy!!!!! Shy is hard on reality television!

Yoly & Xander

The most shocking part of this date is Xander’s casual reveal that Vanessa’s mentality about kids within a queer relationship is…odd! Xander says their ex wants to have her own kids and then Xander would have their own kids instead of…kids together! I don’t really get it. Yoly laughs at this because it seems so absurd. Xander and Yoly also talk about sex, and Yoly says there wasn’t enough sex in her relationship with Mal. Xander says they’re very sexual.

Yoly has a tough time later in the episode when Mal admits to having a connection to Lexi. But Yoly and Lexi also bond at this evening excursion about both disliking Vanessa and questioning her reasons for being here. “She just seems to be into herself and making everything about herself,” Yoly says, adding she thinks she’s a narcissist. Folks, I believe we have our The Ultimatum: Queer Love villain in Vanessa!

Vanessa is indeed very upset to learn Xander has been hitting it off with Yoly and reacts with a lot of jealousy and also says Yoly isn’t nice to her. She cries and walks away from Xander, who immediately starts panicking about what she has just divulged to Vanessa. They thought it would be fine to confess feelings for someone else, because that’s why they’re here! That’s why they’re all here! Vanessa walks away, leaving Xander crying and admitting she feels Vanessa’s behaviors are selfish.

The Choice Begins

Episode two ends with the start of The Choice, the sit-down occasion where everyone chooses which stranger they’re going to have a three-week trial marriage with.

This is really just tease of the choice, the bulk of The Choice happening in the next episode. But here’s what we get in episode two:

Much of the tension in this tease of The Choice goes down between Xander and Vanessa, who is spiraling about the thought of Xander with anyone else, which is again, the entire premise! Xander talks about someone who they briefly and casually dated before Vanessa, and Vanessa promptly freaks out and also mouths “fuck you” to Xander. What is happening!!!!!

Xander chooses Yoly as her trial wife, and Yoly chooses them back.

It’s then Rae’s turn to choose, and Rae talks about the physical attraction she and Vanessa have for each other. Vanessa says Rae calmed her down and paid attention to her enough which, lol, is a very funny reason to give for liking someone. Vanessa also says Mal is a wonderful human and that they shared a great connection, and Mal jumps in to say they only had one interaction with Vanessa and that they knew right away that they weren’t compatible, which is a pretty brutal moment of honesty from Mal, and you can tell Vanessa isn’t used to being rejected!!! Vanessa also talks up Lexi despite their negative experience, and Lexi chimes in to say: “The second you found out that Xander was really leaning into this process that that just soiled our experience.” I agree that Vanessa’s jealousy became super apparent when she realized Xander was into someone else, but I can’t help but wonder if there were parts of Vanessa and Lexi’s conversation we didn’t see that made this even more apparent or that made Vanessa seem even more manipulative. Lexi is extremely married (lol) to the premise of the show and thinks everyone should be very open to the possibility of falling in love with someone new.

Mildred adds that Vanessa mouthing “fuck you” to Xander has been upsetting everyone at the table, and Xander jumps to defend Vanessa, saying they don’t want people ganging up on her. I definitely do not think Xander and Vanessa have a healthy relationship at first glance!

The episode ends on the cliffhanger of Rae’s choice, which leads to…

The Ultimatum: Queer Love Recap – Episode 3

The choice continues! Let’s break the episode down by all the new couples, who officially move into their booze-stocked apartments together in this episode for their three-week trial marriages.

Rae & Vanessa

Rae obviously chooses Vanessa, which Rae’s original partner Lexi is visibly upset about. Vanessa chooses her back.

Vanessa is all over Rae the second they get to their apartment, and Rae immediately seems unsure about her choice — not just of trial wife but the choice to be on the show period. She keeps saying she’s tired, I think to end some of the flirty and over-the-top interactions with Vanessa, who is indeed doing the most!

“Setting the mood?” Vanessa asks when Rae turns off a light. “Setting the night night time,” Rae replies. Vanessa’s pushiness is a little much, to say the least.

Lexi & Mal

Mal chooses Lexi, and Lexi chooses her back. “I was always going to choose you,” Mal says before showering her with compliments. “I feel like I know you better than I know 99% of people in the world,” Lexi says in return. And just like that, I AM ROOTING FOR THESE TWO TO FALL IN LOVE???? Also, I am just thinking so much about how for monogamously long-term partnered people…these things might be a little difficult for people to hear their partners say to other people! They’re talking about future kids! About marriage! I know enough about myself to know this would make me spiral! But then again, I know enough about myself to not go onto a reality show like this…but do all of them?

When all the new couples walk out together, Vanessa tells Mal and Lexi she hopes they can all hang out sometimes. As she leaves, Lexi says she hopes she falls down the stairs and that Rae (who plays basketball) is athletic enough that she won’t fall with her.

At their new apartment together, Mal admits they feel like things are already perfect with Lexi, and Lexi points out that they’ll probably learn each other’s imperfections. IN THREE WEEKS????? See, no, there’s no way. People have affairs in the real world for months, years even, and sometimes never learn the other person’s true weaknesses when it comes to relationships. Because it’s all pretend! This is even more pretend! It’s like the fantasy of an affair but without the deception! Still, I am inexplicably rooting for these two, especially since Lexi has demonstrated a lot of emotional intelligence thus far.

Mal and Lexi are flirting! Mal very casually says they might want to sit on Lexi’s lap while she pees?!?! They both talk about wanting to see each other naked eventually. They also figure out an ideal cuddling position together, and Mal asks for permission to play with Lexi’s hair. No kissing yet, just straight to bed cuddles!

Aussie & Mildred

Aussie chooses Mildred, and Mildred chooses Aussie back. “You have changed so much in the past couple days,” Mildred says, because apparently Aussie went from saying marriage was unimaginable to suddenly imaginable. That is indeed a big change to happen in two days! One that is perhaps impacted by the presence of cameras and might fall apart in their absence. I don’t say these things to take the fun out of the show — I think these observations actually make it more compelling to watch! I’m constantly questioning motives, not because I don’t believe what the people are saying on the show but because I think they might believe it wholly even if these thoughts and feelings are false or porous.

Aussie brings a beautiful plant to the apartment (#PlantDaddy!), explaining it was a gift from Aussie’s grandmother. Aussie offers to sleep on the couch, but Mildred wants Aussie to feel vulnerable and safe and says Aussie can sleep wherever. “I embrace you being nude,” Mildred says when Aussie offers to wear pajamas. These negotiations are all super interesting! Especially in the context of nothing physical happening between anyone yet!

Sam & Tiff

Sam chooses Tiff, and Tiff chooses Sam…technically. But Tiff also uses The Choice to say the person who they really want to be with is their ex. Through tears, they make it pretty clear they’re having regrets about the show and “the process.” Tiff doesn’t really want to try to be with anyone else or doesn’t want to see Mildred with anyone else or both. Mildred cries and walks away, and Tiff follows her out. We break the fourth wall for a bit — always my fav in a reality show — and see the camerapeople and producers around Mildred while she cries. She’s frustrated with Tiff because she has never seen this level of commitment from them until this moment. Tiff only shows up like this once they realize they could lose Mildred, and Mildred says it’s too late for that sentiment in testimonial.

I feel like Sam loses in this situation, and that sucks! She knows Tiff has no genuine interest in exploring anything with her, and didn’t they all come here to see if they have a connection with other people than the person they arrived with? I feel bad for Sam!

I especially feel bad for Sam because of the classic dyke drama that unfolds the seeeeecond she moves into the apartment with Tiff. Initially, things are going okay. Then Tiff says the first thing they’re gonna do in the morning is go pick up their dog to take the groomer and bring back to the apartment. Tiff says they have to sleep with their dog. Sam is open to it but admits she doesn’t like when her legs feel claustrophobic. She says she doesn’t know if she’ll like it, and Tiff immediately becomes activated, saying they’ve never lived with someone who is hesitant about dogs. They say they’ll just sleep on the couch with their dog if it comes to it. Sam is already being asked to share a bed with a stranger, I don’t blame her for being hesitant about a STRANGE DOG!!!!!!!! I was extremely hesitant about sleeping with a dog in the bed when I started dating Kristen, and I warmed to it, but if there had been issues, we would have talked about it and figured something out. Tiff’s reaction is unreasonable in any context, but especially in this one!

Yoly & Xander

This new couple was already established at the end of episode two. They honestly already seem like they’ve been dating for a while. Xander lets Yoly pick her side of the bed and says they usually sleep naked but can wear something tonight to make them both comfortable. You know, I took one look at Xander in the first episode — and their dynamic with their original partner Vanessa — and said “oh, this baby butch is gonna fall in love so fast.”

But the most important thing about Yoly and Xander moving in together is Margaux!!!!!! Margaux is Yoly’s French bulldog. She does get to sleep in the bed with Yoly and Xander.

Yoly lets Xander give her a full on leg massage, and in testimonial, Yoly admits she doesn’t really like Mal to touch her very much but loves to be touched by Xander. It’s starting to sound like Yoly and Mal might have a more platonic dynamic — at least from Yoly’s perspective — and Yoly is able to be more sexual with Xander. I’m also starting to wonder if Yoly could be happier in a poly relationship structure?? Mal calls her a serial monogamist early in the series, but could it actually be that she’s poly?

The Ultimatum: Queer Love Recap – Episode 4

And now, the final episode in this first drop! Everyone is continuing their trial marriages, culminating in an explosive group hang. Let’s go couple by couple again!

Rae & Vanessa

Vanessa and Rae go on a date where…Vanessa gets her NIPPLES PIERCED? Like, that’s the date!!!!! She literally gets her nipples pierced with this near-stranger, on camera!!! Iconic honestly. Vanessa seems really determined to stoke certain jealousy and insecurity flames, asking Rae what she thinks Lexi will think of the picture of her nipples.

Rae and Vanessa’s next date involves zero piercings, unfortunately. They do a picnic on the beach, and I can see Vanessa acting so hard, wanting this to look like a rom-com. “Monogamous relationships feel stagnant to me,” Vanessa says, again suggesting that she might be poly and figuring that out on the show. Rae kind of agrees with her, so maybe they both are!

What is this picnic btw? Just like…jars of pretzels on the beach?

Rae and Vanessa get into bed later, and Vanessa says she feels closer to her than she ever has. The camera pulls away just as things are potentially getting frisky?! We hear Rae whisper: “Keep doing that, that felt good.”

Yoly & Xander

On a dinner date, Xander and Yoly continue to really connect and discover how compatible they are — or at least are in the confines of this reality production. They definitely have the New Relationship Energy on lock.

Later, we see them kiss on the couch, and it does not look like their first time! I wonder if Yoly and Xander hooked up on their first night together, because it seems like it! Good for them!

Later, we see them really making out hardcore in the kitchen, against the refrigerator. Then we see Xander give Yoly another massage and the two likely fucking under a blanket. Indeed, in the morning they confirm the night before was “X-rated.” Xander says they feel like they’d already done it already in their mind so many times so it just felt natural. Yoly says as soon as she woke up, she wanted it again. THESE GAYS!!!!!!! They proceed to do some light morning foreplay.

Aussie & Mildred

A week into living together, Aussie and Mildred are doing laundry together! Mildred also gets to meet Aussie’s best friend Mo in a very sweet scene. Aussie explains the situation to Mo, who requests to sit across from the two in order to observe them as a couple together. Mo asks Aussie about how Sam’s ultimatum went, and as an ultimatum giver, Mildred chimes in and says she basically asked Tiff if they were moving forward, getting out, or what.

“I know your ass,” Mo says to Aussie. “You had issues with commitment.” Mo then asks Aussie what marriage is supposed to be about, and Aussie tellingly says: “You’re stuck with someone forever.” I’m starting to think perhaps people should have just talked to their friends about their relationship problems instead of coming on this show. Awards for Mo!

Aussie and Mildred end up having some conflict when Mildred feels like she’s doing all the housework and domestic labor in the house, and Aussie admits to hanging out with friends so not having time to cook. Mildred gets really intense in this conversation. “I started to feel like I don’t know if I could trust you,” Mildred says, saying she has been let down by everyone she trusts. Aussie admits to not being good with conflict and confrontation. This is all very intense for a fake marriage!

Near the end of the episode, Aussie is really distant with Mildred who is trying to make some small talk. They have a really fraught conversation about…bathroom time? It escalates into a fight, one that clearly started off camera about the ways they communicate about the bathroom and who needs to use it. “I feel like you say shit on camera to make me look bad, mate,” Aussie says.

“I’ve been there for you, and you have been nothing but disrespectful and inconsiderate with me,” Mildred says. It’s really bad! It’s like watching two ACTUALLY married people fight! But these people are near strangers and have no idea what each other’s needs and communication styles are. It’s so unbelievably toxic — and so fast!

Lexi & Mal

“Should we leave this thing engaged?” Mal asks Lexi. And she’s being 100% serious! As far as we know, nothing physical has happened between them. But Mal seems very attracted to Lexi’s independence and confidence. They say Lexi revolutionized their timeline and made them realize they can be married if it’s to someone who they don’t have to do everything for.

Sam & Tiff

Omg the DOG DRAMA CONTINUES!!!! Tiff wants to talk about the dog, because they slept on the couch with Shiloh the night before as a result of Sam not being totally comfortable sharing the bed. Tiff says Mildred learned to accept Shiloh in the bed. Yeah…but Mildred is Tiff’s actual partner, and this is just pretend really! Sam says she isn’t Mildred and shouldn’t be expected to be.

“I don’t want anybody to be around my dog who doesn’t give a shit,” Tiff said and hooooo boy, this is spiraling out of control. Sam ends up having to defend herself as someone who cares about animals, and Tiff says they don’t believe it. In a tearful testimonial, Sam says she feels like Tiff’s dog is more important to them than any relationship, and yep, that seems very, very clear!

“I’m asking you to act like you care about my dog?” Tiff shouts. Omg. I cannot with this! This level of intensity about one’s dog always reads as particularly white to me. I just looked and it says “Dogs>Humans” in Tiff’s Instagram bio…

Sam has perhaps ended up with the worst deal in The Process™ of The Ultimatum: Queer Love. On a very uncomfortable date, Tiff asks if the way they communicated with Sam hurt her, and Sam nods. Sam says her past partners, like Aussie, have so many wounds and past traumas and triggers that she doesn’t feel like she actually gets to work on any problems with them. Tiff does seem open to hearing all of this, but their freak out over the dog was so outsized, it’ll be hard for me to move past it, so I can’t imagine what’s going on in Sam’s head right now.

Rae / Vanessa / Lexi / Mal

Let’s get into the biggest drama of the episode. The next morning, Rae joins Vanessa and says she’s unwell and wants to talk about what happened the night before. “I had a lot of fun last night. I believe I fingered you,” Vanessa says. Rae says they both know what happened and says she told Lexi about the hookup and that Lexi wants to figure out what her life looks like without her. Rae cries, saying Lexi has texted her saying she has to tell her family and friends and…grandpa??? that this happened. “Did you remind her how hot and irresistible I am?” Vanessa, perpetually unable to read the room, responds.

But hold up. I might have to take back everything I said about Lexi having emotional intelligence beyond her years. I’m confused why she’s so upset about the hookup if the whole point of The Process™ is to try being with other people. Did they make a pact prior to coming on the show that they wouldn’t do anything physical with anyone else? Why is this such a massive betrayal that she feels she has to tell her GRANDPA?

To make matters more confusing, when we cut over to Mal and Lexi, Lexi is crying and says she never asked Rae to promise she wouldn’t sleep with Vanessa and that she came to this process knowing they were going to give each other space to explore. “What happened here was not love,” Lexi says. She is specifically upset that it happened with Vanessa, someone who Lexi doesn’t like, but she doesn’t really get to choose that! Mal, correctly, points out that this affects them and their process. The subtext imo is that it’s clear Lexi isn’t going to take things to the next level with Mal. Lexi can’t handle the thought of Rae hooking up with Vanessa, so it seems unlikely she’ll hook up with Mal unless it comes from a bad place like revenge. Lexi does tell Mal she loves her in this moment.

The Group Hangs

Two different groups go on outings. One group comprises Mildred, Mal, Xander, Rae, Sam. The other is Lexi, Vanessa, Yoly, and Tiff, and Aussie.

In the first group, Mildred asks Xander to share something annoying about living with Yoly, and Xander can only muster a vague anecdote about Margaux the dog playing with wine corks and water bottles. Mal is shocked by this and presses them more. In testimonial, Mal is confounded by Xander’s inability to come up with anything annoying about Yoly, but of course those flaws and challenges aren’t on display for Xander the same way they are for Mal! All the pressures of everyday life have been taken out of the equation in these three-week marriages.

Mal tries to talk to Xander about Vanessa and Rae but without fully saying what happened between them since it isn’t her news to give. “I’m not here to keep talking about Vanessa,” Xander says. Mildred bizarrely pushes them on this and says it means she’s excusing Vanessa’s behavior. Xander gets up and walks away, which is the right move.

In the other group, Vanessa and Lexi get into it. Vanessa says she’s trying to take things slow with Rae and see where they go. Lexi interrupts to say that’s not what has happened at all. “Is there a reason why you fucked Rae?” she asks, then clarifies, “Oh I’m sorry, Rae fucked you.” Vanessa suggests that maybe Lexi is actually frustrated with Rae for telling her. Lexi doubles down on how badly she thought her date with Vanessa went, which still seemed to escalate rather quickly out of nowhere. “Are you sexually attracted to Rae? Are you romantically attracted to Rae?” Lexi asks. Vanessa answers no, which really sets Lexi off.

“She led my hand to her vagina,” Vanessa says when Lexi demands more details about what happened and how. “I don’t get a shit about the sex,” Lexi says, which I simply do not believe! “I have to understand why she trusted you enough to let you fuck her,” Lexi says as the episode’s ending words.

I…have more questions than I have answers! I am especially confused as to why all the cast members are misgendering certain cast members, at least according to the pronouns that were included in the official press release? Gender is discussed very minimally outside of that one sentence from Aussie. I still am struggling to understand Lexi’s point of view by the end of episode four, and I’m also sad that she and Mal probably won’t hook up because I really wanted them to hook up! They’re hot together! I like their flirty chemistry, which is actually quite believable, unlike Vanessa and Rae’s dynamic, which also has me confused! Is the vagueness surrounding their hookup because they want to make sure they’re on the same page about how to say what happened on camera? Will Tiff ever find someone to devote themselves to as fully as their dog? Is nipple piercing now canonically a go-to gay date? Who is the top and who is the bottom in every original pairing and trial marriage? WHO STYLES MAL? I am simply asking the important questions.

The next four episodes of The Ultimatum: Queer Love drop next Wednesday, May 31.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 815 articles for us.


    • Lol I won’t lie, writing the recap was exhausting too!!!! Understanding people’s motivations on the show requires a lot of mental gymnastics i wasn’t prepared for. Thanks for reading!!

      • Agreed, I feel so bad for Xander. Also in Ep 2 when Vanessa is at the bar bragging to someone she is an IG influencer, and then I look her up and she has 1400 followers??? It definitely seems like she is using this to as some desperate attempt to be famous. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt with respect to villain editing, but based on everyone’s responses at the table in Ep 2/3, she is not a great person 😬

  1. We’ve only watched the first 3 episodes so I skipped the episode 4 recap, but!

    A) So happy to see these recaps here!!! Thank you for writing them. My partner and I watched the straight season last year and have been waiting for this season since it was announced!!! What a ridiculous show/premise!

    B) We did make a drinking game for this show tonight, but it was based on the words “experience” and “experiment” (also common in Love Is Blind) rather than “the process”

    C) I wish the show would include pronouns (and let’s be honest, astrological signs) along with the names, ages and “original partner of” info on the screen

    D) Mal is so hot!!

  2. Okay I read the recap and then watched the show… imo you missed the biggest explanation for Vanessa’s personality, she’s never dated women before. It really seems like she’s used to being a conventionally attractive white woman in the cis-hetero world and is overcompensating for not being sure where she fits into the competitive “hotness” ranking of this queer group and therefore not being confident without doing bananas shit to get validation. Not surprised at all that she decided to involve herself in the relationship involving the youngest, whitest, most feminine, arguably most conventionally attractive couple. It’s 100% all about social capital and boosting her own self-esteem – which, no hate, is a great reason to go on reality tv!

    • See I was pretty sure she HAD dated women before??? Just never super seriously until Xander. But it sounds like during that moment at the taco truck, Vanessa was more out as queer than Xander was

      • lmao not to be annoying i’m just overinvested so i checked – in episode 1 when rae first talks to vanessa (around min 34) rae specifically asks if xander is the first “girl” vanessa’s dated and vanessa says she hooked up with a girl in college for a month. it sounds like xander had likely also never dated women before vanessa, so it definitely makes sense why they put up with such a toxic relationship

        • Okay, another clue is just before the 33 minute mark in episode 1. Vanessa says the last time she was in the dating world she was mainly dating men, so this is a huge change for her and she’s feeling happy and good about it.

          I am also over-invested. Let’s start a club!!!

    • Yes! I was definitely picking up on the imo racialized (and genderized?) dynamic around who is “hot.” The women who are the most feminine-presenting, and white-presenting seem to be most often called hot or beautiful or attractive. But now that you mention it, I think Vanessa is probs the one who is most often calling those folks (including herself!) hot. The lowest moment is when Xander tells Vanessa they are into Yoly and Vanessa’s instant reaction is to stick her tongue out in an “I’m throwing up” face. (This is apparently a go-to expression for her and I find it super disrespectful!)

      I would have added thin alongside feminine and white, but everyone in the show is thin! To quote Shelli in the recent Lipstick Lover article, “Also, I could have used more fat babes in the pool party yes and I don’t care if that upsets people.”

    • I mean she also said she does influencer stuff for a living, and generally they just seem to edit her to include her most narcissistic sounding statements haha. Maybe they’re making her look worse

  3. Thank you for the recap, I accidentally binged almost all 4 episodes last night lol, I love mess.

    I really tried to withhold judgment, but by the end, I really cannot stand Vanessa. She is such a manipulative mean girl that gets away with it by being conventionally attractive. She needs to be the center of attention by any means without fathoming that other people actually have feelings too. The whole separate kids thing was absolutely bananas to me. I do think Lexi went a little overboard confronting her, but seeing how uncomfortable Rae was with so much of Vanessa’s over the top behavior, I feel bad for Rae too!

    I think Tiff better hope things work out with Mildred because that whole dog debacle was just crazy making. I feel so bad for Sam! I don’t know how anyone can be blamed for not wanting to sleep in bed with a strange (and big!) dog, like wtf? Sam seems very genuine, and good for her for holding her boundaries. She deserves a partner willing to work with her.

    I also find it interesting that I feel like I tend to find the ultimatum givers more sympathetic (yes, I should probably examine that lol). I do kinda find myself hoping for Sam/Aussie to work things out, if Aussie can get over the commitment issues it does seem like they are fantastic together. I really like Lexi and she did seem to want to work things out with Rae, but her chemistry with Mal is fantastic. Yoly seems so sweet, and her and Xander fell into being comfortable with each other so easily I am kinda rooting for them as the top couple that might come out of this together? It also serves my “please for the love of everything, let Xander get away from Vanessa” agenda.

    • Tiff owes Sam a huge apology. The whole dog thing was unhinged. I’m all for loving your pets but she just met Sam and it’s rude AF to push your dog on to a stranger, especially a stranger you’re not even interested in forming a genuine connection with.

    • I second all of this. Only two of the new couples really have any chemistry.

      I think Yoly and Xander may have a chance as of ep. 4. I don’t see Yoly reconciling with Mal since they have bed death.

      Aside from all that is wrong with Vanessa, her pairing with Rae seemed like a platonic ultimatum-receiver, marriage averse match. I don’t see Lexi and Rae getting married. Was initially optimistic about Lexi and Mal but I think the drama over Rae and Vanessa spoiled it.

      Not sure where things will go for Sam & Aussie but I’m concerned by the verbal abuse they’re receiving in both of their pairings (Tiff & Mildred, respectively). Neither new pairing seems like it is going anywhere healthy. Tiff has petty deal breakers and reneged on the process early.

      Sounds like Aussie has a lot of anxiety that they’re working on but Sam gets it. Not sure Tiff or Mildred are self aware or mature enough to be working on anything.

  4. I really feel for Rae. It seems like she has some self esteem issues. Her line about worrying if she’s enough for Lexi and saying she doesn’t understand why anyone likes her. Vanessa is giving her A LOT of attention and while it’s a lot for her, perhaps on some level she feels she needs someone to tell her how great/attractive/etc she is. I also question how into the hookup she was with Vanessa. Vanessa comes across as very pushy with the physical affection and I worry Rae felt pressured.

  5. I usually try not to comment on folk’s attractiveness levels because it’s all subjective, but do a lot of people find Vanessa attractive?

    Her face was… Not for me?

    • i actually agree but vanessa is 30 and had been in her relationship since she was 25, and i can definitely see her having been very conventionally attractive at 25. i also think that if both partners are new to queer relationships and one is suddenly presenting pretty masc, the one who still dresses femininely will get more male attention and in a lot of insecure young women’s minds male attention=attractiveness. also in the age of filters and photo editing, being relatively thin is basically enough to be seen as conventionally attractive online; and i think in person someone coming off super confident and constantly talking about how hot they are (in a normal human way and without the edit from reality tv producers) does more to affect how hot they’re read as than their specific, generally somewhat pleasing, facial features

    • This question is so fascinating because I did not think she was attractive at all at first, and then in the first episode when she was being shown as charismatic and charming, my attitude changed and I thought she was more attractive because of her personality, and then by the second episode when it became apparent and/or the editing suggested that she has some serious flaws (I am trying to be kind but this is putting it mildly), I found her extremely unattractive. So I could believe that people think she is attractive when she has her charismatic and charming side turned on.

  6. Honestly, I know there is major editing, and some reactions of some people (*cough* Lexi *cough*) may be shown as being a bit brutal, but Vanessa to me reads as someone with serious narcissistic personality traits that I would stay very, very far away from. When choosing their trial wives, the only reasons she listed for liking Rae were technically about herself; when talking with Lexi about Xander, she mentioned she thought it impossible for Xander to ever be attracted to anyone but her.
    And her reaction to sadness/hurt and chaos seems to be glee.

    Which is creepy as fuck.

    • Yes and that comment from Xander about Vanessa “Yeah but no-one understands Vanessa like I do/I’m the only one who really understands her” [or something like that] was major red flag with bells on for me. I have said the same thing in the past to justify/rationalise obviously fucked up relationships that I’ve been in. It’s not good.

    • I agree!! I also felt so angry when Rae was having a crisis of self worth, saying she wasn’t sure if anyone could like her (after sleeping with Vanessa). and rather than acknowledge any of Rae’s pain and confusion, Vanessa says, “Did you tell them how hot I am?” it was just like– this isn’t about you!!!! Rae is feeling small and self critical rn! Be nice to her.

  7. Vanessa doesn’t bother me. Obviously it’s problematic to try to diagnose people especially people on a reality tv show, but if you read Vanessa as possibly having ADHD she actually kind of makes sense. Not picking up on vibes and social cues, blunt communication, dopamine rush of getting nipples pierced on date, and you can actually see in her eyes her trying to process others reactions to her and curate and adjust her response back. I also think she is being the most honest person. By the fourth episode almost everyone’s passive aggressive/ aggressive and manipulative communication styles and dynamics were on full display. Lexi isn’t getting the villain edit and she’s being painted as so mature for 24, but how manipulative is shaming Rae by saying how is she supposed to tell her grandfather?

    • Omg I also totally read Vanessa as having ADHD! And I’m a bit of a Vanessa apologist, but I actually don’t thinks she’s so terrible? She obviously doesn’t want to get married ever and does want to fool around, which is a lovely chaotic element in the show. I find how Lexi responds to this really aggressive, as if its somehow morally inferior to just want to hook up? And as if it worse cheating to have a bit of sex with someone sleep in a bed with and like (but not romantically) than to say that you have never felt as understood as by this new person and want to grow to 90 and have babies with them? I think Lexi is really scary honestly, and with that creepy focus on penetration and Vanessa having been “inside” Rae! Yikes! And all the gals ganging up on her feels slut shaming to me. Like Yoly also slept with Xander? What high horse is she on?

      • While it seems like Vanessa isn’t a serious contender for marriage right now, it also seems like Lexi is not accepting that Rae has free will. (1) She chose to partner with the non-marriage-oriented participant. This selection alone seems like it was sufficient to confirm that Rae is also not seeking marriage right now (or maybe it’s retaliation for being given the ultimatum?). (2) It seemed like Lexi wanted to prove that Vanessa was an aggressor and predator and that Rae was a victim, as that would be the only acceptable explanation for her as to why Rae would have sex with Vanessa.

        • Ok, all y’all make really good points and remind me about Lexi’s unhealthy behavior as well. Mal and Xander should save themselves now! And everyone needs to learn about non-monogamy as an option immediately!

          • Also, I didn’t read vanessa as having adhd but even if she does, that is so Not an excuse for her toxic behaviors and pushiness.

        • Yeah at the end of that last episode Lexi disturbed me more than Vanessa tbh. They’re editing Vanessa to seem very narcissistic and manipulative but the way Lexi talks about Rae really disturbed me, like just the jealousy and weird obsession with penetration when they apparently didn’t agree that it was off limits to hook up with the trial wife. And Rae never gives any indication that she’s interested in a relationship as permanent as Lexi is, it kind of seems like she’s unable to say what she really is interested in on camera. I thought Rae choosing Vanessa was telling, maybe they both desire casual stuff more

  8. One key moment of the Vanessa-Lexi park bench date in Episode 2 is when Vanessa comments that Lexi seems like a person with a lot of stability. Lexi (still trying to get at the marriage question) follows up by asking if Vanessa thinks she would want to marry someone with a lot of stability. In response, Vanessa sticks out her tongue in an “I’m throwing up” face. It was a pretty rude response and also kind of juvenile?

    That moment (combined with her notion that Xander couldn’t possibly be attracted to anyone else but her because “no. I’m beautiful. I mean, right?!”) really soured me on Vanessa. I totally understood why Lexi was so upset.

    However, I, too, was initially confused by Lexi’s specific use of “fake” to describe Vanessa. But as the episodes went on, it became clear that Vanessa had trouble being genuine with anyone or having any deep or difficult conversations.

    For the record, I don’t really think that Vanessa is a villain. I think that Xander and Vanessa should definitely break up, though, and Vanessa should go and casually date a bunch of people who also want to casually date and have a lot of fun. Because she hinted that she hasn’t really dated many women yet and that she can’t imagine getting closer with anyone.

    I think Vanessa really wants to sow her pansexual oats for a while and there isn’t anything wrong with that! Maybe one day she’ll settle into a polycule that allows her plenty of freedom to continue to date new people.

    • Wow! I did not realize my comment had gotten that long! I have never been into shoes like this, but apparently I just needed them to be gay? And then I would be into them ALL THE WAY?

  9. Like another commenter, I have only seen the first 3 episodes so I haven’t read the episode 4 recap. I really don’t like Vanessa! I feel a little bit bad about this but also that’s kind of the point of reality TV so maybe it’s okay. She gives off a lot of red flags to me and I enjoy seeing the other cast members’ “uhhh/yikes” reactions that validate my feelings (lol). Also I’m only one year older than Lexi but I’m very impressed by her emotional maturity.

    This show is like a breath of fresh air compared to the straight dating shows I’ve watched where – in my QPP’s words – everyone has the emotional intelligence of children and the body of an ideal White person. Hearing Mal straight-up ask, “Have you ever dated a Black person?”, Xander recognizing that Vanessa being mad at them for being attracted to Yoly wasn’t entirely justified, Mildred negotiating nudity boundaries… God! I love queer people!

    Also sorry to be a nitpicker, but I think there’s a typo where the entire phrase “JoAnna Garcia Swisher: In The Ultimatum: Queer Love” gets italicized (that would be a funny show though). And also that Aussie’s plant was a gift from a friend after Aussie’s grandma died, not a gift from Aussie’s grandma herself.

  10. Haha already typed my Vanessa apologist stuff elsewhere but I don’t think she’s the worst actually! She’s a bit impulsive and juvenile and I think she’s putting up a bit of a “whatever I’m hot” act but think she’s kind of half-joking about it all the time.

    I actually think Mildred is the worst! What the hell! And so not being interested in Aussi’s triggers, being all like “someone needs to discipline this partner”. And I kind of still ship Aussi and Sam, both being condemned “trial wives” that escalate really quickly in fights (Tiff raising their voice about that dog was also so not ok!). Aussi seems not to be doing so hot (i was observing her at the table while the gals were bullying Vanessa and she did not want to be there)

    Lexi creeps me out with her possessiveness over Rae (and her body), and Rae makes me worried because she casually says such worrying things. Also in the conversation with Lexi! Like: my glass is only halffull and can’t fill your big glass – sounds depressed babes! Take care of it! Luckily looking at Mal clears my skin, my pores and my mind, a fresh mountain dew-drop of a person.

    • Omg I completely agree with you on these comments! Vanessa is a little much, and the way she is simultaneously insecure, dismissive, and possessive of Xander is gross and toxic. Buuut I also just think they’re a bad match? She should go off and just do casual stuff for a while. Maybe eventually settle into a polycule, provided she works on her insecurities.

      Mildred and Tiff are both awful!! They both escalated their situations for no real reason, so their hot and cold relationship makes sense. They both strike me as immature for their ages. Mildred especially could use some help communicating. Use “I messages”, babe… don’t act fine and then explode over nothing.

      Anyway suffice to say I’m hooked on this show. It’s so much! It took my partner and I 2 hours to get through the first episode because we kept pausing to discuss. :3

  11. I was kinda taken aback initially by Lexi’s extreme reaction to Vanessa but I think she’s actually right and I wish I was as fast and firm at picking up on and combatting narcissistic behavior. I think her comment about “well, I’m beautiful!” was such a hard yikes, and then what she went on to say about Xander… I feel that on a really personal level because it reminds me so much of my own first relationship. I too told my ex that I was maybe asexual except for him, and similarly as with Vanessa, it seemed like he felt he owned me and could treat me literally however he wanted and he would be in control of the relationship and whether to discard me or not because I’d never find anybody else. And yes, he was *stunned* when he dumped me and then I dated other people. Like I assume may be happening with Xander, my discussion of my sexuality was me being vulnerable and honest as I was figuring things out, but meeting new people after a toxic first relationship quickly turned into much greener pastures. But the narcissistic partner doesn’t get that because they interpreted your discussion of your sexuality as them essentially being better than you and owning you, not as vulnerability and a process that is subject to change. Honestly it felt so healing to me to watch Lexi correctly call this behavior as narcissistic and toxic, and completely chew Vanessa out over this. If she doesn’t want to get married that’s fine but I agree it’s wildly unacceptable to go on a show about trying to get married when she’s not even considering it and she thinks about her partner in such a patronizing way and is essentially just keeping them around because she thinks she can, that they adore her and will never leave. Disgusting.

    • Ooooh yeah, I feel this comment so much! I totally relate to being taken in by people who are manipulatively charming. People like Vanessa tend to “love bomb” and try to make you feel special, only to drop you like a hot potato as soon as the novelty wears off for them. It’s a hard lesson to learn to pick up on that narc behavior, but so worth it to avoid that kind of mess.

  12. There are two people who are a major red flag to me: Vanessa and Tiff. To me, Tiff has an aggressive vibe – not only that they raised their voice in the argument with Sam, but also their body language every time they’re angry. I might read too much into this and obviously I have no idea about them. But as a person who grew up with a lot of violence, I would not feel safe around them, especially when they’re angry.
    I’m really cheering on Sam for sticking up for herself when Tiff is passive-aggressive (or actuelly aggressive with raised voice) about the dog and what Mildred did, etc.
    With Vanessa’s pushy behavior towards Rae and wanting to start something physical, and how clearly upset Rae was after their sexual encounter, I wonder how truly consensual this all was and I felt so bad for Rae.
    Tiff and Mildred both have such a toxic communication style and I can only imagine how they fight after seeing both the way Tiff speaks with Sam and how Mildred talks to Aussie. Also, Mildred being like “Aussie is 42 and should get over it” when it comes to triggers is just horrible, her attitude of Aussie having to be “disciplined” – WTF.
    For now, I like Yoly and Xander together as well as Lexi and Mal. To me, Mal has the best communication skills compared to the other people.
    People I feel bad for at the moment (episode 4) are Sam, Aussie and Rae.
    In many ways, I find the ultimatum receivers more likeable than the ultimatum givers (except for Vanessa).
    Thanks Kayla for the review – it’s good to come back to in order to know who’s who!

  13. I kind of liked that they didn’t dive much into the “what do you do for work”-question because this can create such awkward moments. When I was a nurse for old people, I became suddenly uninteresting for other persons when they asked for my profession and my reply. People who are unemployed, too, become uninteresting very quickly for potential partners. Moreover, many people don’t like their work and don’t identify with what they’re doing to pay their bills and dislike the question. There is so much privilege and stigma attached to this.
    On the other hand, I would like to know if someone was in the police force or military so I would not date them.

  14. A quick note- most of the cast have tiktoks and they DO NOT DISAPPOINT. It’s kind fund to scroll back.

    I love Lexi, I also, growing up had almost zero depictions of hot girls with large Jewish boobs and so have had a weird relationship with my own (and then being only desirable to men, which I do not want). Seeing this show when I was in college would have helped me SO MUCH.

    My takeaways-

    My largest issue is assuming everyone wants to pair neatly isn’t working. They need more people. In the Love Island they add random new people every so often and vote people out. They don’t need to vote people out but maybe add new people? A few new singles would REALLY HELP. Aussie and Mildred aren’t a good fit and Sam and Tiff were truly the leftovers. They just switched partners and they are very very different people that I refuse to believe would ever consider dating each other.

    You kind of get the feeling that the rest of the cast would all be friends if they met at bar. I think Tiff, Mildred, Aussie and Sam are really specific types of people and harder to match. I feel really bad for Sam. I also think the styling team needs to help her a little bit. I bet she’s going to be great once we get to know her more.

    Rei as not ready to be on reality TV, she is shy and thought she was but she wasn’t. Her tiktok is really cute.

    Vanessa is terrible, but thank g-d she’s on the show. It would be so boring without her.

    I can’t get over Tiff, they were my favorite coming in – but that blow up is such a villain move but Sam won’t tell anyone so goes nowhere.

    agree the gendering is all over the place. I wish they would announce pronouns.

    Are we assuming

    Mal/Yoly Switch
    Xander/Vanessa (NO IDEA) (SWITCH?)
    Tiff /Mildred top/bottom
    Lexi/Rei ?????????
    Aussie/Sam top/bottom

  15. Another Vanessa apologist here (who is watching the show with my friends who are all anti-Vanessa so this comment section is very validating). She just seems like she has ADHD and is extremely honest about this whole thing! She’s very clear that she doesn’t want a longterm relationship and also has full awareness that this is an absurd reality tv show and she wants to be on it. Unfortunately poor Rae also knows this is a reality tv show and does not want to be on one.

    I desperately want Tiff and Mildred to get therapy (separately and together) but I’m honestly rooting for them.

    Agree with the above comment that it would work better if they threw in a couple more people in the love island style of things.

  16. Just stumbled across this recap and comment section, and gotta say, I’m surprised by everyone making excuses for Vanessa! Even if she has something like ADHD going on, she’s just mean. Yes, I am sure there is some editing involved as with all reality tv. But she’s just downright cruel and banks on getting away with it by being a skinny feminine woman who thinks she’s charismatic. She wants to play around outside of her relationship (just be poly already ffs), but then gets possessive and downright nasty to Xander when they start making other connections. Imagine wanting to step out of your relationship, and still yelling “fuck you” at a partner for not mentioning an old bumble date? She’s really controlling and possessive of Xander without being willing to give any commitment in return. Plus that whole “I wanna have separate kids thing”, absolutely deranged!

    She’s manipulatively fully of herself (“I’m connecting well with everyone, they all like me”), and is just too in-your-face about demanding validation (“let me awkwardly hop around and you can tell me how good my break dancing is” almost made me turn it off it was so painful to watch). And she refuses to tune into other people’s feelings and treat them as fully human. When Rae is upset after their “hook up” (which I have questions about how much Rae was actually ok with what was going on…), all Vanessa can say is “well I’m gorgeous and irresistible” implying so everyone has to be ok with anything she does? Vanessa is just a whole bucket of yikes that needs to do some serious self development before she leaves even more damage in her path.

  17. I thought it was just so funny/ironic how Tiff said during speed dating that their “ex” was passive-aggressive, and not them. Ha! Not much later, Tiff is behaving super passive-aggressive towards Sam, and also becoming aggressive in a way that is not passive anymore.
    Tiff was right about Mildred, though – she is also both passive-aggressive towards Aussie, as well as super-confrontational and loud.
    I feel sorry for Mildred’s child who is subjected to her and Tiff’s fighting, breaking up and coming back together.
    Tiff is correct that they and Mildred have bad communication styles and I understand that they don’t want to go into a marriage with that. But I also feel that they match in their confrontational conflicts, unlike Sam who is dealt a shitty hand in the “trial marriage” with Tiff.

  18. Kayla, I am so excited that you’re recapping this show!! I looooved your recaps for Yellowjackets and my partner and I started watching this just after we finished that. I’m so glad I don’t have to wait until Season 3 of YJ to get more of your humor!!

    Anyway, I’m excited to watch the next episodes drop today. :D

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