I FINALLY watched the final two episodes of The Ultimatum: Queer Love. First, let me explain why it took me so long. I’ve been overwhelmed with several work projects and experiencing a lot of stress. I often thought about carving out time to watch the finale episodes, but my guilt of not working kept me from doing so. So I told myself I wouldn’t watch the show until I had made progress on those projects…and it’s been several weeks. In truth, I still have a lot of work to do, but I started to feel bad about not finishing The Ultimatum: Queer Love journey! Since there’s guilt if I do and guilt if I don’t, I decided to jump back in and finish what we started. Plus, it’s almost the end of June, and I can’t let the sun set on Pride month without finding out how all of this queer love turns out.
The final two episodes of The Ultimatum: Queer Love takes us through the couple’s final decisions and a reunion show. There are a lot of surprises to cover, but let’s just skip to the good part – who’s still together and who’s not?
I was surprised to learn it has been a year since the couples filmed the show, just enough time for everything to go haywire. In the final episode, four out of the five original couples left the experience engaged: Yoly and Mal; Lexi and Rae; Tiff and Mildred; and Aussie and Sam. Xander and Vanessa parted ways on the final episode. A year later, only one couple remains together – Aussie and Sam. Lexi and Rae were together at the taping of the reunion but broke up after that. So what the heck happened?
Let’s start with the couple I most rooted for: Yoly and Mal. This one hurt, but honestly their breakup isn’t that shocking. On the final episode, the couples end their trial marriages and face a decision. Mal proposes to Yoly and, though Yoly accepts – she seems absolutely tortured by the whole thing. She clearly still harbors deep feelings for Xander. Mal gives Yoly a lot of grace to feel her feelings. Mal repeatedly reassures Yoly that she understands the genuine love for Xander and is willing to navigate and still move forward with the relationship. At the reunion, however, we learn the two didn’t last much longer after the cameras wrapped. Old patterns reappeared, and according to Mal, their habit of handling conflict in unhealthy ways caused the two to finally call it quits for real.
But the real tea of the reunion gets spilled by Vanessa, God bless her. Yoly and Xander stayed in touch after the show, and once Yoly and Mal officially called it quits, there was a moment when Yoly and Xander considered a reconnection in Hawaii. Ultimately that plan didn’t work out, but Mal only learns about their ongoing communication at the reunion. Ouch! The downfall of Mal and Yoly’s relationship feels contentious with a lot of hurt from Mal’s perspective. As we all saw Yoly and Xander fall for each other, even Mal admits it was “cute.” But, some of the ways that Yoly moved between them during the show leaves a bad taste in Mal’s mouth. It’s sad to see the animosity between Yoly and Mal reveal itself at the reunion, particularly how Mal feels hurt. But I don’t think Yoly ever lied about the situation – she was clear about her conflicted feelings between Mal and Xander throughout the experience. Unfortunately, Yoly and Mal didn’t get a happy ending. Still, the good news is Mal came out of The Ultimatum: Queer Love a fan favorite, so I’m sure her prospects are just fine!
The tension between Yoly and Mal is nothing compared to Tiff and Mildred. In the finale episode, Tiff proposes to Mildred, who says yes. However, the wise words of Tiff’s best friend Natasha – who warned the couple was not meant to be – come back to haunt them after the show. The contentious couple broke up for the last time after The Ultimatum: Queer Love wrapped, and we hear all the uncomfortable details at the reunion. After getting engaged, the two moved in together; however, the lack of connection between Tiff and Mildred’s son, compounded with their ongoing communication challenges, proved too much for the couple to overcome. The arguments we saw on the show only got worse, and we learn Mildred got arrested one night when she threw items at Tiff in a heated moment. Mildred also airs out the details of Tiff’s dating after their break up – they lived in the same house together Jennifer Aniston-Vince Vaughn (The Breakup) style for a while. Tiff leaves the reunion set hurt and angry. After Sam follows to console them, Tiff decides not to return – a sad, though foreshadowed, ending to the Tiff and Mildred Saga.
If you asked me to bet money on the one couple that would make it to the end of The Ultimatum: Queer Love, it wouldn’t have been Aussie and Sam. Alas, they are the only couple to return and remain engaged after the reunion (fingers crossed). During their trial marriage, Aussie’s emotional walls were so high, it seemed unlikely a sustainable future with Sam – who was becoming more confident in speaking her mind – was possible. But, during the final show, after an awkward rock situation in which Aussie presented Sam with a rock of appreciation instead of a ring, an actual engagement ring appeared. The two left the show engaged, and we find them still together at the reunion. However, their difficult times aren’t completely behind them, as Aussie tells us during the reunion that Aussie’s family doesn’t yet know about Sam. Hopefully, they can overcome that hurdle and become the winners of The Ultimatum: Queer Love!
Lexi and Rae also return to the reunion, seemingly with a happy ending. However, in a post-reunion text update, Netflix delivered the unfortunate news that the two broke up. Was it the lingering impact of “finger gate”? That’s what they call Rae’s bedroom romp with Vanessa at the reunion – and yes, they’re still talking about it. The good news about Lexi and Rae is that they are the youngest of the bunch. At 24 (Lexi) and 27 (Rae) during filming, this couple has plenty of time to apply the lessons they learned from the show and find the partner that they’re both looking for.
Last but certainly not least, there’s Xander and Vanessa. This was the only couple that didn’t leave the final episode engaged. During their final scene, Vanessa expressed hope that Xander would move forward with a relationship, but Xander wasn’t on the same page. Perhaps hoping to leave with Yoly or waking up to the reality that she and Vanessa weren’t romantically right for each other, Xander chooses to go on a personal journey of self-discovery. At the reunion, Vanessa and Xander regret they haven’t spoken over the past year and tell each other that they miss being in each other’s lives as friends. Vanessa also shares her desire to work on herself. She apologizes for setting the wrong tone at the beginning of the show. I was all set to paint Vanessa as the show’s villain, and I don’t think she did herself any favors in most conflict situations with the other cast members. Still, I did gain some empathy for Vanessa by the end. She admits at the reunion that her self-protection mechanism is to make light of situations, and she’s trying to work on taking life more seriously. We all self-protect and, as someone sometimes accused of being too serious, there’s an artful balance to knowing when to relax versus when to be present with depth. It often relates to our ability, to be honest with ourselves about our own feelings.
Hindsight is 20/20, and it would be easy for the final take of The Ultimatum: Queer Love to be – don’t go on a reality TV show as a couple. But, looking at who made it out and who didn’t, I believe the end results would have been the same – cameras or no cameras. These couples weren’t in the best state upon arrival to the show. They wanted the pressure cooker of The Ultimatum to force their partners’ hand, and it did, whether two months or a year later. The adrenaline rush made almost all of them decide to try and make it work as engaged couples, but that emotion didn’t last in the cold light of day. Twenty-one days may be enough time to form a new habit, but it wasn’t enough time to fully heal the core issues of these relationships. Though we thank them for their sacrifice in giving us something to watch:)
A big theme of the show was choosing – one partner felt like they were constantly undervalued in the relationship, and they wanted to finally feel chosen. However, we learn that validation is only enough when both partners are on the same page about what it takes to keep choosing each other daily. Sometimes the frustration is too great, the resentment too big, and the communication too strained for a glittery ring to overcome. From The Ultimatum: Queer Love, we learn that often, the decent and loving thing to do is say goodbye before anger creates too much bitterness.
I enjoyed watching this show and going on this journey, however emotional. Unless the cast members are all great actors, it felt like they entered the show with pure intentions and the hope of finding love with their partners or within themselves. I’m happy I got to complete this journey during Pride month – now to the next recap!
Write again soon!