38 Rules You Didn’t Know ‘The Ultimatum’ Contestants Have to Follow

38 Rules You Didn’t Know ‘The Ultimatum’ Contestants Have to Follow

1

It’s not a strict rule, but you’re not supposed to text your ex.

rules the ultimatum contestants have to follow

Simone Thompson/Netflix

But some do, of course. “We try not to make any rules that we can’t enforce,” Queer Love executive producer Chris Coelen told Variety. “So there’s no rule, but you’re living in a trial marriage, and usually you’ve agreed that the person you’ve arrived to the experience with is your ex. You have broken up with them. So normally in a marriage, it would be odd—if not against the quote unquote ‘rules’—to be texting your ex married to somebody else.” So if you’re wondering about how Rae was allowed to call Lexi, there’s your answer.

2

Producers don’t care about cast members’ social media presence.

rules the ultimatum contestants have to follow

2023 © Netflix

One contestant on Queer Love, Vanessa, was accused of only appearing on the show to become an influencer. When asked about contestants’ social media presence in an interview, executive producer Chris Coelen said, “I have no idea about their social media[…] I’ve never personally been on any of their social media.”

3

The host can change from season to season.

rules the ultimatum contestants have to follow

2023 © Netflix

While Nick and Vanessa Lachey hosted the first season of The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On, they didn’t return for the season installment of the series, The Ultimatum: Queer Love. Instead, Netflix tapped actress JoAnna Garcia Swisher to host the season.

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4

Producers allegedly don’t care about couples’ outcomes.

rules the ultimatum contestants have to follow

2023 © Netflix

“The truth is that you come in as a couple and I personally say this to them at the beginning of the process, I do not care how they leave,” Coelen shared in an interview with E! News. “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.” As long as it makes for good TV, right?

5

But producers *are* thinking about compatibility.

rules the ultimatum contestants have to follow

2023 © Netflix

Despite not being invested in the outcome, producers obviously try and cast people who will have chemistry—it’d be a pretty boring show otherwise! In an interview about Marry or Move On, Coelen said “We weren’t matching these people up into their new relationships…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.”

6

Contestants get to make their own rules about intimacy with trial partners.

rules the ultimatum contestants have to follow

Courtesy of Netflix

Marry or Move On contestants Shanique Imari and Rae Williams went on the We Have The Receipts podcast to answer questions about filming. As far as whether people are allowed to be physically intimate with their trial partner, it sounds like it’s completely up to the couples to decide what they’re comfortable with.

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7

It can be a year-long wait between filming and seeing the actual show.

rules the ultimatum contestants have to follow

2023 © Netflix

A Variety article suggests that the Queer Love season was filmed in spring 2022, but didn’t air until 2023. Coelen explained it’s largely because Netflix needs a longer lead time than other networks, so they have time to dub and subtitle episodes for global viewers.

8

Contestants have to live with someone they just met.

the ultimatum

Netflix

Once a contestant picks a new man or woman to have a “trial marriage” with, their OG significant other officially becomes an ex. They live with the random newbie for three weeks, getting to know every pro and con about life in a new and different relationship. This was the format for both Marry or Move On and Queer Love.

9

They then live with the person they went on the show with.

the ultimatum

Netflix

After their “trial marriage” is over, contestants go back to their original relationship. That way, they can compare the feelings they had in both relationships—and some try to show their partner what they learned during their time apart. This was the format for both Marry or Move On and Queer Love.

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10

Contestants are allowed to leave the trial marriage early.

rules the ultimatum contestants have to follow

2023 © Netflix

While the idea is for couples to spend three weeks in a trial marriage, there isn’t really anything stopping them from leaving before the three-week mark. (Queer Love SPOILER AHEAD): Case in point, Aussie left Mildred before their time together was supposed to end.

11

A final choice must be made on Ultimatum Day…

the ultimatum

Netflix

New romance or old? That’s for the contestants to decide on…wait for it…Ultimatum Day (dun dun dunnn). Each cast member chooses whether they’d like to pursue an engagement with the person they just met, or stick with the person they have history with.

12

…But it doesn’t have to end with an engagement.

the ultimatum

Netflix

Just because the show is called The Ultimatum, doesn’t mean you need to leave the show with a fiancé. That’s right: Contestants have the option of ending the experience solo.

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13

Contestants film for months.

the ultimatum

Netflix

The shooting schedule is grueling, and will take up to eight weeks. One week is spent meeting and dating new people, three weeks are dedicated to living with someone new, then there’s another three weeks of living with their original partner, followed by a week of conclusions and updates. This appears to be the case for both seasons of The Ultimatum.

14

Producers will talk to cast members’ friends and family.

the ultimatum

Netflix

Producers try to vet contestants for authenticity by talking with those closest to them. “You can never ever be sure of what someone’s truest, purest intentions are. But we certainly have enough experience to try to suss out if people are inauthentic and we spend a lot of time talking to them,” show creator Chris Coelen told E! in an interview about Marry or Move On.

15

The intense casting process is mandatory.

the ultimatum

Netflix

Not only do producers talk to friends and family, they also go out of their way to talk to community members. They go into popular bars and businesses around the area where contestants live to ask about them and their relationships.

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16

Producers can lie about the cast’s ages.

the ultimatum

Netflix

Lauren Pounds shocked Instagram when she posted a picture with the caption: “30 and thriving.” When a commenter pointed out that she was labeled as 26 years old on Marry or Move On, she replied: “They lied about my age. We can’t figure out if it was intentional or not.”

17

Proposing before the end of the show is frowned upon.

the ultimatum

Netflix

While technically there’s no rule against it, doing so throws off production. “The intention going into this is, this is the experience, the ultimatum comes to terms at the end of the experience, that’s when you are going to make the decision,” Coelen said.

18

Living in a certain city is required for some seasons.

austin texas evening excitement cityscape, skyline, skyscrapers, congress avenue bridge

dszc//Getty Images

In the first season of The Ultimatum, the entire cast was from Austin, Texas. This is meant to ensure that any new relationships have a real shot at lasting outside of the show. “If someone is going to make a choice, we wanted it to work for them in the real world,” Coelen said.

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19

But for ‘The Ultimatum: Queer Love,’ contestants didn’t live in the same city

rules the ultimatum contestants have to follow

2023 © Netflix

Coelen explained to the Seattle Times that for the Queer Love season, they expanded their search beyond just one city. “We took a regional approach and cast contestants from the Pacific Northwest, especially Seattle, as well as across the West Coast and Hawaii,” he said.

20

You’d still need to relocate for filming, though.

rules the ultimatum contestants have to follow

2023 © Netflix

Unlike the first season, which cast people who already lived in the same city, the second season of the show required contestants to come to San Diego. BTW, if you want to have a resort vacation similar to the one you saw on Queer Love, book yourself a room at the Coronado Island Marriott Resort and Spa.

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Jamie Ballard

Contributing Writer

Jamie Ballard (she/her) is a freelance writer and editor who covers news, lifestyle, and entertainment topics, including sex and relationships, TV, movies, books, health, pets, food and drinks, pop culture, shopping, and personal finance. She regularly contributes to Cosmopolitan, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping, and YouGov, among other publications. When she’s not working, you can find her running, traveling, or scrolling TikTok. Follow her on Twitter.

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