‘The Ultimatum: Queer Love’ Is a TV Rarity With Familiar Drama

The finale of Netflix’s latest dating hit, Ultimatum: Queer Love, arrived Wednesday after weeks of partner swaps. This was a milestone in romantic reality shows. It was the first marriage contest of its kind and focused exclusively on queer couples.

Like last year’s predecessor, The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On, The Ultimatum: Queer Love, which premiered in May, follows a couple who disagree about their future together (one wants to be engaged). but one wants to be engaged). others are not ready). So they part and agree to live with a new partner for a few weeks on camera. After meeting, dating, and committing themselves to a “trial wife,” the original couple get together again and live together for a few weeks as if they were married. And after eight episodes worth of mental searching, they must decide whether to get engaged, end the relationship, or break up with the titular ultimatum: wife on trial. .

“I feel like I’m in a lesbian club, and all my ex-girlfriends are here,” says castmate Tif Dar in the first episode, referring to the grounds surrounded by ex-girlfriends who became Dar’s partners. Mildred Woody, who joked while sitting by the fireplace inside (for the purposes of the show), Mildred Woody, and eight other contestants each went on a short date that day.

In the same scene, another performer, Vanessa Papa, suggested to the entire cast a “polyamory orgy,” prompting head shakes and nervous laughter from the other participants. At that point, Dad was interested in both Lexi Goldberg and Ray Chan-Sutton, but her ex Xander Borger hit it off with another person’s ex-partner who was close to her. .

Same-sex marriage was federally recognized eight years ago, and it took that long for LGBTQ people to watch their own dating shows focused on love and committed relationships. Many queer-inclusive reality shows have expressed interest in such programs. Previous shows have included a bisexual-themed contest, A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila (2007), and an all-pansexual season of MTV’s Are You The One? (2019) focused on competition rather than lifelong commitments. In “Queer Love,” which wrapped up Wednesday with its final episode and reunion special, the only praise is the clarity that comes from the first-ever experiment that men aren’t potential partners.

Ultimatum: Marry or Move On wasn’t airing when the spin-off cast began filming, so the five couples who starred in Queer Love were left wondering how the show would unfold. Little did I know. All they had to ask was the track record of the production company Kinetic Content. Kinetic Content is behind the Netflix reality hit Love Is Blind and Lifetime’s long-running Marriage at First Sight. recent years.

In many ways, “Queer Love” is reminiscent of other marriage reality shows. Struggling and triumphing with partners (trials, etc.) is similar to what Love Is Blind contestants experience after coming out of the pod and pairing up. . Regardless of the composition of the couples involved, commitment anxiety and the attraction of potential new partners are factors that are sure to produce the interpersonal drama reality producers crave.

Dar and Woody said they had been on and off and on and off for about two years when a casting producer approached them about joining Queer Love.

“I actually turned it down at first because I was like, ‘Actually, we’re in a really bad situation right now. “Then she said, ‘No, that’s actually what we’re looking for.'”

Ms Goldberg said she was approached at just the right time in her relationship with her partner, Chan Sutton. “It was kind of like the question, is there a relationship that either of you is questioning or holding back?” she said.

As universal as relationship grievances are, “Queer Love” also captures the specific ways queer women and nonbinary people relate to each other. For example, whether intentionally or not, spending time with each other’s ex-lovers is common in small communities like this. For heterosexual viewers, the show acts as a kind of voyeuristic microcosm. For queers, it offers a more relatable analogy to the nasty acts of heterosexual dating shows like “The Bachelor” and “Love Is Blind.”

The cast, who ranged in age from 25 to 42 at the time of filming, said they were encouraged by the queer power of the film as a whole (several members of the crew were LGBTQ, including the cinematographer), but pointed out blind spots. Some people did. Yolly Rojas, a first-generation Venezuelan immigrant, said she was thrilled to be “a brown Latino femme on TV” but disappointed that her partner, Mar Wright, was the only black person on the cast. Told.

“I don’t think that’s a fair representation of the community,” Rojas said. “It still felt a little whiter than what I was hoping for.”

Wright was initially concerned about being portrayed as an attacker. This is the fate of television for butches, male-dominated women, or non-binary people. “I didn’t want it portrayed in a way that wasn’t true to me,” Wright said.

But after watching the entire season, Wright, who uses them/their pronouns, felt relieved. “There was no anger metaphor that stuck with me,” they said. “So it was a really accurate representation of who I am and how I navigate the world.”

One of the show’s weirdest moves, and perhaps one of its most controversial, was the choice of host. Nick and Vanessa Lachey co-host both “Love Is Blind” and “Ultimatum: Marry or Move Forward,” but for “Queer Love,” Netflix decided to return to the show “Sweet Love.” Magnolia” star actress Joanna Garcia Swisher. The cast were surprised when Garcia Swisher was revealed to be the host in the first episode. Finally Dad asks the question ‘Are you queer?’

“I just wanted to know,” Dad, a recurring fan of Garcia Swisher on his favorite show Freaks and Geeks, said in an interview. “But she’s not. And that’s also great, because you get the combination of a queer cast and a devout host who’s married to a man. So it’s like two worlds merging.” is.”

Other cast members were also puzzled by the choice.

“It took me a while to warm up with Joanna because I didn’t understand,” Rojas said. “It had nothing to do with anything gay or queer. It just didn’t make sense. But she’s really sweet and understandable enough to understand as a straight woman.” She did her best.”

The show’s executive producer, Chris Coren, said Garcia Swisher’s most important quality as a host is curiosity. “Is Joanna a freak?” he said. “No, she’s not. Does she have to do a good job on the show? I don’t think so.”

audience of the show cried strange Choice of hosting on social media.But overall, “Queer Love” popular and very memized — admired by writers and authors Audience For giving gay women and non-binary people the chance to see their relationships reflected on a huge platform like Netflix.

“It’s all pretty standard reality show stuff,” says Emma Spector wrote in vogue. “But what did it mean to me when I was in high school and saw 10 queer people on TV dating, breaking up, crying, having fun, drinking disgusting cocktails in weird chrome glasses? There must have been a time when queer people were almost non-existent” in my real life. ”

For the cast of Queer Love, appearing on the show came with a sense of responsibility not to embarrass a community that has historically been ignored or misrepresented on television. Goldberg, the youngest castmate, said the weight of the contestants showing themselves in public was evident from the first group gathering.

“It was kind of an unspoken agreement,” Goldberg said. “The stakes weren’t high, but the importance of being a good representative was something we had to consider on a daily basis.”

“But that doesn’t mean we can’t have relationships and feel and cry and deal with problems when they arise,” Goldberg continued. “It just reminds us that this is important, and that there are many people who see this and expect it as a sense of normalcy in queer relationships that they probably didn’t know before. It means that you should keep

Executive producer Coren hopes Queer Love can “somehow lower the barriers between people” in both its relevance and idiosyncrasies.

“Because people are people,” he continued. “And, like the cliché, love is love, right?”

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