Episode 5: In And Out Of Love
We start with Xander and Yoly discussing the group night and Y’ALL look at that big ol’ hickey on Xander’s neck. At least I assume it’s a hickey. With the chemistry between Xander and Yoly, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Yoly recaps the fight at her table and we beat around the bush for a minute (no, not that kind of bush) before Yoly explains that Vanessa and Rae had sex. She explains that Lexi asked Vanessa how they ended up having sex and if they had a connection – romantic, sexual, or platonic – and Vanessa said no. Yoly and Xander wrap up their conversation and presumably leave to have more sex.
Vanessa recaps the argument to Rae, in a way that seems… a bit edited, at least. I’m glad to hear Rae say that the sex was consensual and not pressured.
We see Mal and Lexi recap the night as well. Lexi thinks that Vanessa is “out to get her” because she “figured Vanessa out.” This made my fiancée say, “you can really tell that she’s 24 here.”
I don’t think Vanessa is out to get Lexi specifically. I think Vanessa was excited about sleeping with someone new, and didn’t particularly worry about how that would affect Rae, Lexi, or even Xander.
Mal, smart as always, says what everyone is thinking at this point – “I didn’t want to talk about Vanessa so much” – and basically advises Lexi not to give Vanessa so much focus and power.
We also get Aussie’s perspective on the fight, with Mildred and her dog Zoey once again sporting an adorable bow. Mildred explains her frustrations with Aussie’s avoidance of difficult conversations, and Aussie ends up walking out of the apartment.
And, yikes, Aussie comes back 12 hours later to grab their things when Mildred is out. Aussie expresses no ill will toward Mildred, but can’t endure the confrontation and feels as if Mildred doesn’t communicate effectively. Aussie writes a goodbye note to Mildred. Later, Mildred reads said note as a voiceover from Aussie plays. I chuckle a little at the idea of the producers telling Aussie, “Hey, we know you’re super upset right now. But can we get a few takes of you reading that note though?”
Mildred expresses many reasons for being frustrated, starting with that fact that Aussie didn’t take out the trash. She mentions that there’s tampons in the trash and I screech. Tampons? In the living room trash? Come on, Aussie, you’re 42.
On a more serious note, Mildred reveals that she’s been abandoned throughout her life – by her mother, when she was five years old; then by her father; losing her godmother when she was 12 years old; and her ex-wife leaving as well. On one hand, I would hope Aussie knew about this as they were trial wives and should’ve been getting to know each other. On the other hand, I kind of hope Aussie didn’t know, because giving up on the trial marriage has much more of a sting when you know Mildred’s extensive trauma around being left.
It’s now the final week of trial marriages. Yoly and Xander meet up with one of Xander’s friends, Blair. I update my chart with the information that both Xander and Yoly are vegetarian. Regardless of whether Xander stays with Yoly, I’m happy that Xander is (presumably) getting out of her relationship with Vanessa by the time this show ends.
We see Tiff and Sam on a date discussing the sexiest and least sexy names. They joke about how “Gertrude” is a terribly unsexy name, and no one mentions that Tiff came in with a woman literally named Mildred. Tiff says the sexiest name is… Tiffany. We get to see Tiff’s goofy side during this conversation.
Then we see Lexi introducing Mal to her parents, which feels like a lot. Her parents have the same reaction to the drama that my fiancée and I had while watching this show.
Lexi says Mal will be a part of her life forever, that they’re ready for marriage now, and that if they were together for six additional months, they wouldn’t feel any differently. This feels like a good time to mention that the “honeymoon phase” is a known and observed phenomenon.
Then we meet more family – this time, Vanessa’s dad. When he walks in, Vanessa says, “The man, the myth, the legend. Big Papa has arrived.” I wonder what sort of relationship they have where that’s a normal thing to say. He talks about how he thinks a marriage should be like a 7-year lease that you can choose to renew or not and I think I understand Vanessa a bit better.
We see Xander and Yoly doing crafts at their apartment. They say they love each other, presumably for the first time, and it does feel real and weighty and important.
This is apparently the episode of meeting friends and family. We meet Mal’s friend Alicia and I love her almost as much as Aussie’s friend Mo. She’s skeptical of the show overall, and makes a good point that Mal is a caring and kind individual, so a lot of women mistake Mal’s care for interest when it’s just her being a great person.
We also meet Tiff’s friend Natasha. I feel like she ranks pretty high up in terms of the most obviously gay friends on this show. Natasha is shocked that Tiff and Sam haven’t been intimate yet… or kissed… or even held hands. They’re pretty much the opposite of Xander and Yoly. I don’t see any chance at these two coupling up at the end of the show. I think Sam, like Mal, is also a very sweet and good person whose niceness might be confused by others for romantic interest. Also, the word “humans” is so pervasive in this show that it even makes it into the music.
Yoly asks Xander to promise that she won’t let Vanessa sink her claws back into her during Xander and Vanessa’s upcoming trial marriage. We end the episode with another shot of Yoly and Xander in bed, captioned “furtive moaning” as usual.
Episode 6: The Changeover
We’re back at the Ultimatum table and I have to go back and confirm I’m not crazy for thinking the table is a different color now.
We talk about how the initial trial marriages have gone. Aussie says that they pulled out, which seems to initially confuse our host, Joanna Garcia Swisher. Eventually, it becomes clear to everyone that Aussie was talking about pulling out of the trial marriage, not Mildred.
We find out that Xander and Vanessa originally agreed not to do anything physical in their trial marriages… which is a shocker, because they both absolutely did. Vanessa reads out an apology that she wrote earlier. Yoly tells her directly that it’s completely performative while Mal nods in the background.
Mal and Lexi talk about how great and in sync their trial marriage has been. Yoly is surprised that Mal has been so supportive of Lexi, and remarks that it’s easier to be cute with someone that you’ve only known for three weeks. I agree with Yoly – as much fun as I’m having watching this, there’s no way that anyone can compare the two experiences. However, Yoly and Xander also rave about how amazing their three-week relationship has been.
After hearing about Yoly and Xander’s connection, Vanessa says that she’s grown and is ready for a marriage now. Personally, I’m skeptical.
The original couples get back together and begin their three-week trial marriages. Let’s update our chart.
Yes to kids
Yes to kids
Yes to kids
No to kids
Yes to kids
Vanessa asks for the details of Xander’s sex with Yoly.
Specifically, she asks Xander, “Like, with mouths?” which struck my fiancée and I as an odd thing to ask. I would hope the contestants have to test for STD’s before going on this show. If they didn’t, I get why she asked. But if they do, this comes across as a weird ranking of different sex acts. Vanessa comes to sit on Xander’s lap, which might seem sweet with different music, but with the music they chose it seems like Vanessa’s going to drag Xander to Silent Hill.
We cut to Yoly and Mal. Yoly is still in tears over her strong feelings for Xander. Mal is ecstatic to be reunited with Margaux. Who wouldn’t be!
Yoly explains that she fell in love with Xander, that it was the first time she’d been with someone who wanted what she wanted, and that they had sex.
Mal also continues to be an emotionally intelligent queen and asks Yoly if she’s mourning the relationship that she had with Xander. Yoly nods yes, and Mal tells her it’s okay. Mal explains to Yoly that her ego is hurt, of course, but she still loves Yoly and still chooses her.
I related a lot to Yoly here. I think it’s totally possible to be in love with multiple people, and that’s okay and doesn’t mean you love them any less individually. At the same time, I think this does prove Mal’s original concern about making sure that she was different from other people Yoly loved, and that she was the one Yoly wanted to choose over everyone else.
Sam and Aussie immediately get to having sex, as do Mildred and Tiff. Mildred and Tiff commit the heinous sin of having bed-shaking sex with the dog still on the bed. I’m sorry, but I could NEVER. Shoo her! WTF! Is this what Tiff was expecting when it came to caring about the dog??
Poor Rae and Lexi try to have a very important and serious conversation about their relationship, but unfortunately, they try to have that conversation while on a beach with a bag of tacos and a bunch of seagulls.
Vanessa and Rae talk about their own problems. Vanessa brings up that she saw Xander was still messaging Yoly. They have a little conflict, Xander cries, and Vanessa says, “I love you.” Xander doesn’t respond, so Vanessa says “Say it back! Fucking say it back, Xander!” until Xander relents and I’m reminded of American Horror Story.
Spot the difference!
While everyone else is having conflict, Aussie is still running away from it. Aussie seems to be really afraid to be angry or upset in front of people. The way that Mildred talks over Tiff and Lexi talks over Rae makes me grateful that my fiancée and I are in couples therapy. Lexi’s dad interjects into their fight to make a Friends reference. We also find out that Mildred and Tiff have broken up an estimated 50 times.
Vanessa surprises Xander with a hot air balloon trip and continues to assure Xander that she’s 100% down for marriage, with another pre-written statement that she reads out. I’m still having trouble believing that she’ll be happy in a marriage and isn’t just afraid of losing Xander. They kiss and we move on to the next episode.
Episode 7: Cocktails and Confrontation
We now have 10 days until the contestants have to answer the ultimatum. Lexi and Rae are back to working together, and Lexi promises to be there for Rae. Both Vanessa and Mal wear their hats super high on their heads. When did we, as the sapphic community, decide this was a good look?
Aussie and Sam meet with Aussie’s brother, Ron. Most of Aussie’s family doesn’t know that Aussie is gay. They’re very conservative and traditional, whereas Sam’s family is open and accepting. Aussie reasons that since Aussie has never had someone that they wanted to marry, there’s never been a reason to stand firm and tell their parents about their sexual orientation.
We get another group outing. Lexi says “Hi, wifey” when she greets Mal before correcting herself. Oof.
The music gets really on the nose when Yoly says she’s going to talk to Mildred, who just happens to be standing next to Yoly’s trial ex-wife Xander. Not to be Vanessa about this, but maybe a Mal-Yoly-Xander threesome is actually the answer to this dilemma. I appreciate Mal for saying that she respects if Xander is the person for Yoly.
We see Lexi and Rae back at home after the group outing. Lexi is upset that Rae didn’t completely ignore Vanessa at the party. I find myself thoughtfully stroking my leg hair. It seems that there’s nothing Rae can do to make Lexi feel okay right now. I think Lexi, understandably, needs more time than they have in this show to get past her feelings of betrayal.
And at long last, we see sweet, patient, understanding Mal finally snap.
Episode 8: Is Love Enough
We open with Tiff and Mildred on the beach, talking about their dogs and children. Mildred explains that her son, who is now 16, may have to live with them into adulthood as he has special needs. Tiff seems receptive to this idea. One of the dogs gets the zoomies.
We meet one of Sam’s friends, Sharmaine, and Aussie continues to need therapy. Aussie seems to be highly traumatized by childhood conflict, and gets overwhelmed and walks out on another conflict, this time while Sharmaine is there. Later, back at the apartment, Sam and Aussie start arguing over… I’m not even sure what, to be honest. Aussie leaves, again, and we spot Aussie’s REI backpack.
Then, the editors cut to a confessional from Aussie saying that they know Sam is the one and they don’t want to lose her. Aussie comes back, says sorry and gets back in bed with Sam.
Vanessa and Xander talk to Vanessa’s dad again, who is dressed as an old sea captain. He rightly points out that not wanting to lose Xander HAS to be at least part of why Vanessa is suddenly willing to get married.
We also have another talk with Yoly, Mal, and Mal’s friend, Alicia. We learn a key piece of information that, up until this point, Mal also didn’t know – Xander has better insurance than Mal, and more money. Which makes IVF a lot more feasible for Yoly.
We get to the final night of the trial marriages between the original couples, and I just now process that Tiff said Mildred was afraid of dogs her whole life and does, in fact, have her own dog. So I guess Mildred is pretty over her fear of dogs?
Also, I think we all need to stop saying “that’s bullshit” and maybe try “I don’t understand” instead.
Poor Sam continues to be such a caretaker. Mal says “I like doing life with you” to Yoly, which is cute. And we see Vanessa’s ass for a split second with the Nest logo in the top right.
We go to the next day and get a good bit of fluff. Mal proposes to Yoly, and of course, the show cuts off right before we can hear her answer. But the preview seems to imply that she says no… AND, we see Yoly and Xander walking together in their proposal outfits.
At this point, I stopped to consider if I thought any of these couples were ready to get married. My verdicts were:
- Sam and Aussie: no
- Xander and Vanessa: absolutely not
- Mal and Yoly: maybe
- Tiff and Mildred: maybe, if they give couples therapy another go
- Rae and Lexi: shrug?
- *Yoly and Xander: no, but they could date
I had hoped to get this published before the final two episodes came out – but I was held up by my own lesbian wedding preparations, so instead, we get to jump right to the finale. Stay tuned!