The Ultimatum: Marry or Move on review – absolutely terrible | Television
Jhe last show presented by married couple Nick and Vanessa Lachey (in the realm of reality TV for 10-15 years, for reasons that don’t concern us now, or maybe ever) was Love Is Blind. It was (in fact continues to be, until at least 2024, as a fourth and fifth seasons have just been ordered) a show in which strangers communicate from unique “pods” without being able to see each other until as various couples declare themselves in love, get engaged, then meet and get to know each other for a month before actually getting married. I remember the inaugural season very well. I described it as “absurd, revolting, endearing, toxic and wholesome by turns – and addictive as hell all the way through… Crack-meth.” I also wondered if it would be possible to exploit emotional frailties, desecrate the frightened, make the private and precious public and worthless, and make it more ruthless or effective voyeuristic bait.
Well, bless my little rhetorical socks – now we have an answer! The answer is “Yes, absolutely”, and it is delivered in the form of The ultimatum: get married or move on. In this 10-part trash fire, the Lacheys introduce us to what are claimed to be six couples, but by my instantly anxious and feverish count, at least 302, who have in common that one of each couple want the other to put a ring on it or end their relationship. Shit or Get Off the Pot would have been a better title, but, alas, America still clings in the weirdest way to its puritanical past, so Marry or Move On is the apt choice presented.
I can’t be expected to remember 604 – or even 12 – candidate names in my day, especially when they’re all fully interchangeable, so instead I’ve labeled them blonks 1-6A /B (males) and blermps 1-6A/B (females. Homosexuality has not yet entered the lacheyen universe, although they have promised a second season with an LGBT cast). “A” denotes blonde, “B” denotes non-blonde and that’s literally all that matters in this show.
To be fair, a few blonks stand out (Jake for being a nine-part puppy and seemingly as nice a guy as reality TV has ever dug up; Colby for being the only man to give an ultimatum and for having vibes of Garth Brooks even before he put on a Stetson in the final episode). One or two of the blermps are also notable: Alexis is a flint-eyed, lantern-jawed blonde who wants a ring in return for cooking, cleaning, and laundry she does for her blonk at home (” Marriage is a financial and emotional transaction”), and April is a fast, funny, genuine 23-year-old charmer who shouldn’t want to get married any more than…any fast, funny, charming 23-year-old.
Anyway. Couples are separated and encouraged to laze around a pool, dine, drink cocktails and see if they “sparkle” with someone else. Then they choose a new partner to live with for three weeks before returning to their beloved and deciding whether to shit or – I mean, get married or move on.
All this goes as well, that is to say as badly, as one might expect. Soon the contestants are sobbing, viewers are hoarse screaming at the screen (the utter fury on Alexis’ face when she chisels Colby – on their second drink – that he doesn’t see himself marrying his life to me yet ), and the Lachey/Netflix accountants open the champagne in their toxic lairs. The crack-meth mix is stronger than ever. In 15 minutes, the lizard part of your brain is desperately invested, and the higher functions can only pray for the accelerated heat death of the universe before the remaining nine and three-quarter hours are up.
It’s absolutely awful. Morally, of course, there is literally no justification for deliberately putting temptation in people’s way (I believe this is actually one of the tenets of quite a few world religions). Creatively, it’s bankruptcy. Educationally, intellectually, it’s… not. Every other word from every other mouth suggests that we should build a bonfire and place feminism there, because the battle is surely lost.
But, oh, the entertainment. Oh, the escape. Oh the glory of letting the hate for this and that blonk, and the love for the blermp 2A, which seems to be heading for its rightful place on the arm of the new blonk 6B to flow freely through you, washing the mental detritus of the day and go you’ve been cleansed, emptied and ready for tomorrow’s accumulation of cares and woes. It’s crap – but you can’t move on.