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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
“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:
- Are you a top/bottom/switch?
- What is your job?
- 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.