Not gonna lie: this writer mostly clicked on Netflix’s The Ultimatum because it reminded him of Matt Damon driving an NYPD cruiser over a toll booth and punching some dude through a book. But one sticks around for other kinds of drama. And let’s be honest, punching someone through a book feels less extreme than the forced couples swing retreat hosted by the singer from 98 Degrees and Special Agent Jane Tennant from NCIS: Hawaii.
In case you need a recap of the premise, here goes: six couples are looking to find marriage in an Austin hotel room. Each couple includes one partner who wants marriage and one partner who is …. kinda not sure, because it’s only been a two-year relationship, ya know? Partner #1 issues an ultimatum to Partner #2. Either Partner #2 will be ready for marriage at the end of “the experience” (the show), or Partner #1 will gently consider an extension on this absurdly rigid proposal and communicate their feelings through couples counseling. Just kidding. Partner #2 will bend the knee or Partner #1 will leave them forever.
To help Partner #2 make this decision, everyone will be paired up with a different partner for a trial marriage, during which time each partner will live with this new partner for 3 weeks. (Swinger math: six heterosexual couples equals twelve people swapping partners.) After these three weeks, they will return to their previous/real partner for another 3 weeks and have a trial marriage with them, too. After those 3 weeks, Partner #2 (or Partner #1, now realizing that maybe they weren’t ready for the ultimatum, either) will commit or quit.
The experiment is designed to help partners solidify their feelings for each other by forcing them into relationships with total strangers in the reality TV hope that they will fall for the stranger instead. And by God, it almost worked.
With a second season focusing exclusively on queer couples about to drop on Netflix, now seems like the perfect time do dive back into the Ultimatum-verse.
Here’s what happened to all the couples (to the best of our knowledge) two years later.
Alexis Maloney and Hunter Parr
Who gave the ultimatum: Alexis
Alexis’ swing partner: N/A
Hunter’s swing partner: N/A
Standing up for herself and her feelings in one of the most unironic moments in Netflix reality TV history, Alexis made an announcement: this entire concept is bullshit, and she’s not going to sit here and watch the man she loves date another woman.
That man, Hunter, either having an epiphany of commitment, or sensing a very, very dire situation unfolding, walked over and proposed to Alexis. They went home. They won before the show even started.
Alexis and Hunter got married in June 2022, traveled to Athens, Santorini and Mykonos for their honeymoon, and now live in Los Angeles.
Lauren Pounds and Nathan Ruggles
Who gave the ultimatum: Nathan
Nathan’s swing partner: N/A
Lauren’s swing partner: N/A
Proposals are contagious. Following Alexis and Hunter’s utter disregard for the concept of the show (i.e., their honesty), and definitely sensing that he was in trouble, Nathan proposed to Lauren—the woman he wanted to marry despite her not being sure if she wants kids.
In the reunion episode, we learned that the pair is still together and has begun couples therapy. They say they have agreed to have one kid. Since then, Lauren and Nathan got married in a ceremony in Colorado, and have been sharing envy-inducing photos of their travels on Instagram.
Randall Griffin and Shanique Imari
Who gave the ultimatum: Shanique
Shanique’s swing partner: Zay
Randall’s swing partner: Madelyn
The rest of the couples participated in “the experience” (they never call the show a “show” or “reality” anything). Randall and Shanique paired off with Madelyn and Zay. Randall and Madelyn seemed to have one of the more-instant connections, and going into the finale, it was unclear whether or not Madelyn will accept Colby’s proposal, or if Randall will accept Shanique’s.
In the finale, Randall did propose to Shanique who said yes.
In the reunion episode, however, we learn that Shanique and Randall broke up for six months after the show, despite this engagement. They spent time apart before getting back together. Rae also revealed that she and Shanique became friends after the experience, a relationship later complicated by the fact that Shanique and Zay had been more intimate than Rae knew.
Colby Kissinger and Madelyn Ballatori
Who gave the ultimatum: Colby
Colby’s swing partner: April
Madelyn’s swing partner: Randall
While Madelyn was having a great time with not-Colby (Randall), Colby was more or less biding his time with April. (Both Colby and April made the ultimatum to their partners, and they saw no point in entertaining any marriage fantasy; they instead had a generally platonic relationship filled with support and mutual hype. Honestly, what a wholesome outcome.)
When Colby inevitably proposed to Madelyn in the finale, Madelyn—who appeared unsure for much of the experience—said yes, and they got married there and then.
On the reunion, Madelyn announced that she was over six months pregnant, and the couple welcomed their daughter Josie in May 2022. Parenthood appears to agree with them: they both say they have grown much closer and argue less now. In January 2023, Madelyn and Colby shared the news that they are expecting their second child, due in September.
April Marie and Jake Cunningham
Who gave the ultimatum: April
April’s swing partner: Colby
Jake’s swing partner: Rae
While April was practicing patience with Colby, Jake seemed to be falling in love with Rae.
In the finale, Jake said he wasn’t ready to propose to April, meaning the relationship was over. Jake ended up asking Rae if she would join him on a trip somewhere in the world.
At the reunion, April said she could tell Jake wanted to be with Rae. She also said she and Jake still lived together for a month after filming. April then moved in with a friend and has since met a serious partner with whom she now lives and plans to marry.
As for Jake, there are rumors circulating that he could be appearing in the next season of Netflix’s Perfect Match.
Rae Williams and Zay Wilson
Who gave the ultimatum: Rae
Rae’s swing partner: Jake
Zay’s swing partner: Shanique
Given Rae and Jake’s connection, Zay seemed to be in the same boat as April—even though he was not the one who had given the ultimatum.
The two did not become engaged in the finale—with Rae accepting Jake’s trip invitation.
At the reunion, however, we learn that Rae and Jake didn’t go on the trip. Rae said she wanted time to heal. She said she and Zay tried to fix things, but that it didn’t work out. Zay, however, said Rae wasn’t being honest about what happened after the show.
Rae said she met a woman and has begun dating her casually. She said she’s now figuring out herself and her sexuality. Zay, meanwhile, appeared on Perfect Match along with several other familiar faces from other corners of Netflix’s ever-expanding reality dating show universe. Ultimately, though, he left that show single.
Joshua St Clair is an Assistant Editor at Men’s Health Magazine.
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