Even before the word “goblet” was completely out of my mouth, the decorator of The ultimatum: get married or move on is breaking down.
“The cups! They’re iconic,” she laughs, as a former student might laugh at using Red Solo cups to drink poorly mixed drinks, like it was an old joke. “It’s funny. If you don’t notice, that’s okay. But as soon as you notice, you’re like, ‘What’s with those cups?’ »
Mandalynn Myers, who tells me she was a one-man department for most of the production of Netflix’s latest reality show, has heard all the talk about these (in)famous chalices. She must have cleaned up dozens of them and organized them around Austin, even though she wasn’t responsible for creating them. They arrived in metallic silver boxes from the Netflix storks as Myers and his prep team worked tirelessly to transform hotel rooms into glitzy apartments.
Seriously, though: what is with those cups? They’re in every shot of this damn show, iconic in some way Emily in Paris is tacky, campy, and awfully wonderful. A perfect fit for The ultimatum.
The new dating show follows six couples as they swap partners, test out marriage and ultimately decide on their perfect match, whether it’s their original partner or someone new. In a word, The ultimatum is ridiculous.
These people (who are all, mind you, in their early twenties, and have only been dating for, max, two years) have a distorted view of romance. Yet it is also, perhaps, a modern masterpiece.
As these loved ones ask each other for kids after a calendar year together, they frequently clap giant chalices bigger than their heads (or, for another point of reference, their proudly self-funded breast implants). They swallow margaritas – or wine, or Red Bulls vodka, or pure tequila… We don’t know what they drink or how much, thanks to these cups, which have become a bigger character than Colby or April, and even more present than hosts Nick and Vanessa Lachey.
Restaurant tables? Place a cup for water and a cup for alcohol. A romantic date? Nothing better to set the mood than a gargantuan goblet. Meeting the family for a picnic? Put a goblet in grandma’s hand. There are even cups on these people’s bedside tables, but who knows if they’re there for a drink of water or a nightcap.
“We put little bars in everyone’s bedroom,” says Myers. “They had a welcome basket when they entered their room of fun things, where we kept sweets and mixers and little card games where they could get to know each other. Just fun things they can play with.
Because they’re young in Austin, Myers tells me, “they’re looking to have a good time,” which is the reasoning behind the bars in every room. In a photo of Rae and Jake’s bedroom, you can actually see a giant glass bowl filled with gummy worms sitting right next to a half-full bottle of Jack Daniel’s. Again: iconic.
Although the metallic glasses are now infamous, the amount of drinks on the show is even more remarkable. As the show’s audience, we don’t know what type of drink is ingested, but someone is drinking something in every scene. From the way the cast acts – constantly sobbing, shouting, flirting – we can assume it’s usually alcohol. If that’s true, they drink a lot and they never stop.
Perhaps, however, there is less alcohol consumption than we think. “It’s just something they decided would be good for editing and continuity,” Myers tells me of the chalices. “It’s just a stylistic choice. It’s fun, it brings something more interesting than a Red Solo Cup or just a simple dinner drink.
These people might drink water, or take the smallest sips ever, and we’ll never know. To be honest, though, a normal wine glass would allow me to focus more on the actual spectacle than those cumbersome monstrosities.
Still, The ultimatum manages to highlight a big deal in almost every dating reality show. The young contestants are expected to flaunt a glass of wine or a chilled cocktail in each scene, a glorified version of alcoholism. Now, thanks to Netflix, the issue is set in a must-have solid silver tumbler that’s eye-catching enough to keep you coming. to have to notice it.
There’s a certain shine to Netflix’s reality team’s loyalty to these chalices, though. They were used on The circle, Too hot to handlesister series Love is blindand now The ultimatum, all in different forms. Sometimes the chalices are flutes. Sometimes they are gold. In The ultimatumthere are three types: stemless, normal wine glasses and extra thick wine goblets.
The crew even found a way to place these glasses in real working restaurants. The production team primarily worked with mom-and-pop operations, which Myers said were “so welcoming” to their glassware. (Sorry, Netflix: You wouldn’t be allowed near my restaurant with these things.) The set decorator stuck her hands in “buckets of buckets of chalices,” rubbing them before each new take began.
“We shot on a date night at the Eleanor in downtown Austin,” Myers recalled. “It was quite a bar where there were tons of people. I just remember that we brought so much cups. It was like seven big tupperware boxes of just… cups.
How many cups were there in total? About 500 or 600, Myers estimates. That’s about triple the number of attendees at an average wedding, all for twelve lucky people. Just imagine all those tall metal glasses shoving into dozens of large boxes around the set. You have to admire the commitment.
The appearance of the chalices on the show surely made numbers for any retailer carrying metallic glassware. But as hard as each publication tried, there’s no definitive answer on where to buy these cups, not even from the production itself: “We were like, ‘Where are they from?’ No one ever knew,” Myers says, launching an “Amazon…? as a suggestion.
Seemingly sent from the skies above, Chalices don’t seem to be going anytime soon, especially as Netflix’s dating slate has grown to gigantic proportions. During the show’s reunion episode, after two cast members announced they were pregnant, the couple are gifted with a silver cup. The legacy will live on in the next generation of thirsty bachelors.