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The Ultimatum: Lavender Rhino Edition

For June we're going a bit more light hearted for our Lavender Rhino blog. Enjoy!

“Why do they have to put a gay person in every show these days!?” Aside from that having the very obvious answer - because we exist - it seems that the producers of The Ultimatum were ready to take that and run with it. They ran with it right into the nearest Subaru dealership. Yes, ladies and ladies, we got our very first all lesbian/non-binary reality dating show. I say first because even though our impressionable little lesbian minds were sucked into the 2007 "hit", A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila, it did not come from a place of true excitement. We took what we could get in those days, no matter how detrimental it was to our fragile gay psyche.

The Ultimatum is a show on Netflix that puts long-term couples into a very interesting situation. Each couple has one person that gave the other an ultimatum of "marry or move on". The experiment of the show is to pair together new couples from the existing ones for a 3-week long “trial marriage” where they live together 24/7. They are then thrust back into their original pairings for another 3-week “trial marriage”. At the end of it they have three choices - leave engaged to the person you came with, leave engaged to the person you just met, or just leave.

Yes. Dramatic. I know. That's the point. But what I also know is that for lesbians the stereotype of “U-hauling” (moving in together after a very brief period of time dating) comes from somewhere. It's not a joke - it happens. Quite a lot. I'm sure there could be, and have been, entire books written about why women move so fast when dating each other so I won't go too deep into the "why's" there. But I will say it's no secret that women can get in their feels very easily and when you double it - that's a lot of feels floating around. So, this concept was probably a little more comfortable than some of the cast may care to admit. I mean, 3 weeks is longer than some of my actual relationships.

The latest season was released on May 24th, 2023. It’s the second season of the show but the first season without heteronormative casting. It should go without saying that anyone can watch this show and get something out of it. I watch boy/girl dating shows all the time and get hooked - relationships are easy to identify with as most adults have had one or two. Plus, it's basically like watching The Animal Planet where the animals can talk. We love us some Animal Planet! This is no different. What is different is that my wife and I got to see people like us in these often ridiculous yet familiar situations.

With 10 episodes, all averaging around a 8/10 on IMDb, there was plenty of entertaining content to fill the dinner time slot on our TV (as well as when dinner was long over, 2am can come so quickly). But one thing that was new to me in the realm of reality tv shows was when I identified so heavily with certain people in certain moments. When it comes to trigger warnings I typically pay no mind - but in this case, someone needed to display a Lesbian Trigger Warning: “Caution, this will make you think of at least 2 exes and 3 awkward moments from high school you had managed to suppress until right this moment.” At one point, during the highest rated episode, Group Nights Out, my Apple Watch alerted me that my heart rate was getting out of control while inactive. Well, yeah! These ladies are stressing me out!

There’s a lot to say about reality tv shows and their place in our culture. Some good, some bad, some just about how the popularity of what we see nowadays is the result of writers' strikes and tv executives deciding to make regular people famous and put a camera in their face asking them to "Dance, monkey!". Who needs writers when these people are willing to talk unscripted?

Though each person on The Ultimatum: Queer Love had both good and bad attributes one thing made me enjoy it overall. Representation. People say it doesn’t matter and it’s really just some rich person using a marginalized group to make themselves richer, and maybe that is the case. But no matter their intention the result is the same. There were real lesbian couples working through real lesbian issues in real lesbian ways. Oh, and there were plenty of fur babies who made their tv debut as well.

As a card-carrying member of the Alphabet Mafia (LGBTQ+), I gotta say it was worth watching and I can’t wait to see where we end up next. The more we appear in shows and on screens, the more people will become bored with our presence and then we can all finally get what we so desperately want - more reality shows that let us escape the monotony of our own lives for the briefest of moments and come out feeling a little more confident about our place in the world. Oh, and maybe we'll start being seen as actual people and lawmakers will stop trying to pass legislation that bans our existence. But for now, just like with Tila Tequila in 2007, we'll take what we can get.

- Emily



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