The Cringiest Moments From 'The Ultimatum'

The premise of Netflix’s newest Lachey-hosted dating show, The Ultimatum, is this: One person in each of the six relationships featured issued an ultimatum to their partner to either get married or move on. How do they decide? Don’t fret, the Lachey’s have it all figured out. To determine if they’re ready to marry each other, they swap partners and live in a trial marriage. It’s kind of like a swingers party meets The Real World, but the goal is marriage. It’s a flawless plan. 

Netflix’s version of a trial marriage seems pretty great. The new couples lived in an apartment together and met each other’s families for an afternoon. That’s what marriage is, right? The trial marriages mostly resulted in everyone getting a free pass to hook up with someone outside of their committed relationship. They also spent a lot of time at night clubs. (Who knew Austin’s club scene was so popping?) All this clubbing, couple swapping, and fighting resulted in a new level of cringey reality dating show moments. And we’re kind of sad it’s over? So, let’s look back at the messiest, cringiest, most second-hand embarrassment filled moments from The Ultimatum. And it goes without saying, there are spoilers ahead.

April’s Ultimatum

April, just two years into legally drinking, was already giving marriage ultimatums. Her boyfriend Jake was steadfast on the reason he wasn’t ready for marriage: he wanted financial stability before he tied the knot. We can respect a fiscally responsible man, but April wasn’t having it. She wasn’t asking Jake for his money, just his legally bound commitment.  April proved she was a girl boss when she declared to the cameras “this bitch is financially stable, okay?” She shook her purse in the air, which in her defense looked very full, to underscore her financial stability. She then added “I paid for these on my own” pointing to each of her professionally altered boobs. This was cringiest in the best way. This is what we like to see on our reality TV. Own your plastic surgery! You bought those boobs! Not sure what any of that has to do with her readiness for marriage, but we digress. 

Alexis’ Ultimatum

The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On: Season 1. (L to R)
Hunter Parr and Alexis Maloney in episode 3 of The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On: Season 1. Cr. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2022

On the other side of the girl boss spectrum, we had Alexis. She entered the show after giving her boyfriend, Hunter, the ultimatum. Alexis wanted a ring on her finger. (Women of the world, I beg you to stop saying that phrase.) But more than a missing ring, it felt like Alexis also had her doubts about Hunter. As she said, marriage for her was more of a financial decision than an emotional one. She told producers she currently made more than Hunter (yes, girl boss!), but she has no desire in being the breadwinner (oh no, girls boss). She said she wasn’t sure if Hunter was marriage material because he wasn’t making enough money yet, adding that she’d never said that out loud before. This one made us visibly cringe. Probably should’ve kept that one inside, Alexis. 

But we think she paid for her words in the end when Hunter proposed. We all know the proposal was truly a surprise to Alexis because her usually perfectly kempt appearance was marred by a scrunchie. That’s right, Alexis was proposed to whilst wearing a scrunchie. That is an actual nightmare for a Texas girl. 

Nate’s Proposal

Nate Ruggles, Lauren Pounds in episode 2 of The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On: Season 1.

Proposals on dating shows are usually the pinnacle moment. The whole season leads up to this point. The music swells, the woman’s dress blows artfully in the breeze, the name of the jeweler is illuminated on the ring box so it’s legible to the viewers at home. But that’s not how proposals go on The Ultimatum!

A good rule of thumb is to wait at least 15 minutes after one proposal before attempting your own. But it seems Nate didn’t follow this social norm because mere minutes after scrunchie-gate, he was down on one knee. Thank goodness Alexis’ extensions were tied up in that scrunchie or she would have whiplash from watching Nate try to steal her moment. Don’t fret girl, based on the grimace on Vanessa Lachey’s face and the cast’s chorus of shock following Nate’s proposal, you won the engagements. But love comes in many forms, and Lauren’s affirmative “abso-fucking-lutely yes” proved that Nate picked the right woman…. even if she was the fourth woman he planned to pick that day.

Colby & Zay’s Fight

Jake Cunningham, Randall Griffin, Isaiah "Zay" Wilson and Colby Kissinger in episode 4 of The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On

Let’s set the scene: It was a nice boys night out. Just four guys currently dating each other’s girlfriends enjoying some cocktails that a PA decanted into silver goblets. The mood took a turn though when Colby started telling a story of a recent night out with Zay. According to Colby, he saw Zay whispering with a girl who then came over and started making out with him. Producers’ hands were probably at work here. They heard Colby made out with someone off-camera and the story needed to make it to film, so Colby thought this was his opportunity to control the narrative. 

The problem lies with Colby. He fancies himself a rather savvy communicator. He really thought he was doing something when he set up the story to frame Zay as the puppetmaster behind his illicit makeout.. But it takes two tongues to tango. And whether Zay double-dog-dared the girl to make out with Colby or not, the fact is he still made out with her. The best part was Zay refusing to play a part in Colby’s story. He wasn’t falling on any sword for this guy. He really summed it up well when he told the other two guys—who were sitting back thrilled they dodged a bullet—“well now we know, Colby is a liar and a cheater.” 

Colby’s Mental Gymnastics

Colby Kissinger in episode 8 of The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On: Season 1.

Colby brought the mess all season. It’s tough to watch someone who thinks they are a master manipulator and dresses like they are cosplaying as an 1800s oil tycoon, gaslight their girlfriend at every opportunity. Nothing was messier than when Colby attempted to convince Madlyn his makeout was for her. He said he wanted to make the experience “real” for Madlyn. And since his trial marriage with April was more of a roommate situation, he needed another outlet to make Madlyn jealous—keep in mind, he was making jealous for her own sake. He even claimed he got no pleasure from the makeout. Maybe that’s a commentary on your own kissing skills, Colby?

The mental gymnastics Colby performed to justify making out with a random girl as something he did for Madlyn would be gold medal worthy, if it wasn’t so insane. But we tip our ten gallon hat to you, sir. Your messiness was our viewing pleasure. Thank you for your service. Or maybe the sunk cost fallacy is real.

This highlight reel is just the tip of the iceberg on what turned out to be one of the wildest reality dating shows we’ve ever seen. And in the end, four of the original six couples are together: Mady and Colby, Alexis and Hunter, Nate and Lauren, and Randall and Shanique. So, maybe the experiment worked. Or maybe the sunk cost fallacy is real.

Images: ILANA PANICH-LINSMAN/NETFLIX; Courtesy of Netflix (5)

Hanna Matyiku-Nuñez
Hanna Matyiku-Nuñez
Hanna Matyiku-Nuñez is a cool mom to a dog, cat, and most recently a human. She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of pop culture that she often downplays, so others don’t realize how deep it goes. Follow her on instagram, @hannaematyiku if you enjoy a constant stream of cute pet and baby pics accompanied by quippy thoughts.