Is The Ultimatum real? The show features real couples

The path to marriage isn’t straightforward for every couple: you often find that one partner isn’t ready for the huge commitment. Their dedication to the relationship is irrefutable, but the timing feels wrong. The Ultimatum on Netflix is based on six couples who see marriage in their futures, but one hesitant partner hampers their paths to holy matrimony. 

The show’s participants participate in ‘trial’ marriages: the first with another person’s partner and the second with your actual partner. By the end of the show, the participants will either accept to marry the original companions or walk away single or with a new partner. 

The Ultimatum looks real as the producers used real couples to create the show

The Ultimatum seems like a mashup of Married at First Sight, and Love is Blind. That’s probably because one creator made the three shows: Chris Coelen, in collaboration with Kinetic Content. 

Chris told E! News that he is obsessed with ‘the relationship space’ due to its relatability. He told the outlet that many couples face similar struggles to the ones depicted in The Ultimatum. Coelen said:

“I think every person, I certainly have been, every person has been in a situation where you are in a relationship for a while and one of you or your partner is ready to get married and the other one isn’t quite as sure. I was the one who wasn’t quite as sure.”

Coelen had the benefit of personal experience when creating the series. He had first-hand knowledge of feeling ready for marriage yet having doubts over the long-term future of a relationship – and so did the six couples chosen to participate in the show. 

The producers picked Austin, Texas, as the location for the series. They looked for couples contemplating marriage and individuals who could create love connections with each other. Chris explained:

“We weren’t matching these people up into their new relationships, they were doing that on their own. But we wanted to make sure every person who was participating in the experience had people that we felt like, at least on paper, that they would be interested in.”

Coelen and his team conducted detailed research to ensure that auditioning couples weren’t faking it to earn fame. They had in-depth interviews with the potential contestants and talked to friends and family to ascertain the validity of the relationships.

The use of real couples with real issues adds a layer of realism to The Ultimatum that you don’t find in many reality shows. 

The proposals at the start of the show startled the producers

Before the games began, two couples left the show headed for marriage.

Alexis Maloney hit out at the show, dismissing the concept as ridiculous and stating that she wouldn’t allow her man, Hunter Parr, to date another woman. Perhaps fearing the end of the couple’s relationship, Parr proposed to Maloney. 

Inspired by Hunter’s decisiveness, Nathan Ruggles proposed to Lauren Pounds, despite their disagreement over whether or not to have kids. The couple left the show headed for therapy and maybe, marriage.

Chris told E! News that the early proposals startled the production team. They expected decisions at the end of the ‘experience,’ not before starting. He explained:

“That was a crazy night. I don’t think anybody expected that any of that was going to happen. That was not the intention going into this. the ultimatum comes to terms at the end of the experience, that’s when you are going to make the decision.”

Nevertheless, the production team didn’t attempt to block the double proposal. Chris said he didn’t care how the couples left as long as they made the right decisions. He explained:

“I am not biased to whether or not they decide to marry their first partner or they choose someone else or end up by themselves, the thing that I care about a lot is that they each make the right decision for themselves. That’s all I really care about.”

The show proceeded with four couples rather than the original six. 

The producers gave the contestants freedom to continue living their everyday lives

The couples lived in apartments provided by the production team but continued living their everyday lives. It presented a challenge for production teams to follow the couples everywhere but made the show more realistic.

“I think often it is really a positive benefit to allow them to continue their real life and that means we are not filming with them 24/7 and we are not keeping them in a bubble and we are allowing them to do their thing,” Chris said

Chris said that the cast hung out a lot because they wanted to – the crew didn’t force them to spend time together. “Some of them were like, ‘Oh my god, we just want to hang out,” Coelen said. “We don’t police people. If you are going to do that, you are going to to do that.”

Inevitably, the cameras missed some scenes which some fans would have loved to see. Case in point: the events of Zaye and Colby’s night out. 

Colby allegedly kissed a woman that night, but it’s unclear whether Zaye convinced the woman to do so or Colby made out with her of his own volition. Chris opined that such off-camera episodes added to the show’s authenticity: 

“As much as you would want it to be that, I think it is just as interesting that we don’t. Sometimes I’ve been on shows where you are like, ‘If it didn’t happen on camera it doesn’t exist on the show,’ but that’s not the kind of show we want to produce. We want to own the reality of their situations.”

The film’s production crew handled Rae and Zaye’s physical altercation

Zaye’s partying with friends for the entire night while ignoring Rae’s attempts to reach him angered Rae. After he got home at 8 a.m., an argument ensued. The argument soon spilled over into a physical altercation. 

The fight didn’t feature in the series, though Chris confirmed that it happened, and the production team handled it. He explained:

“In that particular situation, where she goes out into the hall, there was a producer out there in the hall, because we are all in the same building, and she oversaw.”

Chris said that Rae felt bad about her reaction. He also praised Zaye for reacting calmly to the provocation. Chris said:

“Is it right what she did? Absolutely not. Does she admit that it wasn’t right? Absolutely. Does she apologize? Absolutely. It was wrong for her to do that, but it was a real moment and that the consequences were there.”

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