"Since Netflix discovered reality TV a few years ago, we’ve watched the streamer put singles and/or couples through a variety of wringers for our entertainment," says Brett White. "Participants have gotten engaged to strangers sight unseen, endured forced abstinence by an air freshener-shaped smart device, gone on blind dates while wearing elaborate animal/monster/fantasy makeup — participants even willed a competition about social media into being a low-key dating show by flirting nonstop, oftentimes sincerely. Netflix loves reality romance so much that they’ve announced they’re spreading the love all year round. Kicking off this never-ending love-fest is The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On, a new reality romance series that is somehow more inexplicable than Sexy Beasts, more manipulative than Love Is Blind, more voyeuristic than Too Hot to Handle, and more ethically dubious than all of those shows combined. The Ultimatum is the Netflix reality romance formula gone too far."
The Ultimatum is absolutely terrible: "In this 10-part bin fire, the Lacheys introduce us to what is claimed to be six couples, but by my instantly anxious and fevered count, number at least 302, who have in common the fact that one of each pair wants the other to put a ring on it or else call a halt to their relationship," says Lucy Mangan, adding: "It’s absolutely terrible. Morally, obviously, there is literally no justification for deliberately putting temptation in people’s way (I believe it is one of the tenets in fact of quite a few world religions). Creatively, it’s bankrupt. Educationally, intellectually it’s … not. Every other word out of every other mouth suggests we should build a pyre and place feminism atop it, for the battle is surely lost."
The Ultimatum should probably invoke ethical review by the Office for Human Research Protections: "Contemporary matchmaking shows that corral heterosexual strangers to mix and mingle, demanding that they lock someone down after mere weeks of so-called dating—Love is Blind, Sexy Beasts, all the Bachelors and Bachelorettes—are a special kind of farce," says Tracy Moore. "That’s not how love works! Reality show people are weird! Desperation isn’t sexy! But at least these people aren’t already in relationships. When they see the object of their affections getting hot and heavy with someone else, their mild territorial jealousy is based on the supremely low stakes of having spent all of 48 hours together. Not so with the chaotic new Netflix show The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On, an experiment from the creators of Love is Blind so torturous it should probably invoke ethical review by the Office for Human Research Protections. It features six established couples, all made up of pairs in which one has given the other an ultimatum to propose or break up. The partner who isn’t so keen on marriage has their reasons: They aren’t ready; they aren’t sure if this is “the one”; only one of them wants kids; only one of them is human. That’s hardly the craziest thing about this show."