Is 'The Ultimatum' fake, or is Netflix's couples swap the real deal?

Is 'The Ultimatum' fake or are we getting the real deal?! Everything we know about the authenticity of the reality dating experiment

Is 'The Ultimatum' fake? Pictured: Scenes from The Ultimatum season 2 against a pink background
(Image credit: Netflix)

We'll admit, there are points throughout The Ultimatum season 2 that make us question if the Netflix series is scripted. 

Given that The Ultimatum season 2 couples are tasked with temporarily marrying someone else—all while watching their significant other do the same—it seems just a tad too far-fetched. Who on earth would sign up for something so excruciating?! 

This season, there's an awful lot of drama to digest—and we still have two episodes to go. We are thrown for a loop with Lisa and Brian's shocking news and are left wondering if James cheating on Ryann would be too much to overcome. Plus, we aren't sure if Antonio will get on board with Roxanne's business-minded mentality. And that's just to name a few situations.

We wouldn't blame you for questioning The Ultimatum's authenticity—there is a lot of grey area surrounding the reality TV genre, anyway—but it appears this story is one you cannot make up. 

Is 'The Ultimatum' fake or is the reality show real?

Though producers might have a say in the way in which scenes are set up or edited, The Ultimatum is not fake and focuses on real-life couples going through these challenging crossroads. In fact, creator Chris Coelen claims that the show thrives on its relatable scenarios (minus the whole temporary marriage thing).  

"It's about, 'Am I willing to commit to you for the rest of my life? So starting off of that impulse and relatable idea, we felt like if you put a group of couples together who are all seriously thinking about getting married and all potentially questioning their relationship in the long-term, and allow them to choose one another based on things that they thought that they might want in their future," Coelen told E! News in 2022. 

Like other shows that fall under Kinetic Content's umbrella, including Love Is Blind, the group behind The Ultimatum hones in on a specific area and goes digging in local bars, hotspots, etc. to learn what life is like. Realistically, when the experiment is complete, couples won't have to worry about distance separating themselves from a partner. 

"Just like on Love Is Blind, we cast in a specific geographic area," Coelen further revealed to E! "We also wanted to do the same thing in The Ultimatum because if someone is going to make a choice, we wanted it to work for them in the real world."

When speaking to the season 2 couples, My Imperfect Life got a taste of their experience. While it was definitely not for the faint of heart, they agreed that it was worth it. In fact, they even go as far as to suggest others issue an ultimatum themselves if they should find themselves in the situation. 

"It may not be the answer that you want, but whatever the answer is, it's the truth," contestant Antonio Mattei tells us. 

Likewise, Brian Okoye says: "It's not the most conventional way to go about it, but I think you just gotta go for it, essentially. If you don't put yourself out there and put your foot down,  you're not going to get the result that you're looking for."

Will there be hard lessons coming our way...and the contestants' way? The final two episodes of the second season will be released on Netflix on Wednesday, August 30. Tune in to see who says "I do" and catch up with couples—and former couples—during the reunion!

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.