Shanique Brown and Randall Griffin are one of the few couples still standing following The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On Season 1. Their trial marriages with Madlyn Ballatori and Zay Wilson weren’t enough to pull them away from each other. And in the end, they were the first to get engaged in the Episode 9 finale, “Ultimatum Day.”
The Ultimatum reunion debuted April 13 on Netflix, and in it, Shanique and Randall revealed they broke up for six months after the show wrapped filming. Now, they’re back together, but not engaged. And suffice it to say that, for them, hindsight is 20/20.
In this exclusive TV Insider interview, Shanique and Randall take a deep dive into everything that happened on the show, answering some of our burning questions about their relationship, The Ultimatum‘s chaotic premise, and how they feel about ultimatums now.
TV Insider: First of all, are y’all OK? What a chaotic experience!
Shanique Brown: The first couple of days of the show being out were hard for me, I’m not gonna lie. Having everyone see your relationship — and not the best parts of it, at that — it was tough. But I’m OK now. I have an amazing support system, so I’m getting through it.
After the show ended, I was so paranoid for months feeling like there’s a camera watching me. Emotionally, I think I was OK just considering Randall and I walked away together. We had a lot to unpack, obviously. But I was OK walking away.
Did they provide you with therapists to help you navigate everything? I feel like that’s a criminally absent aspect of reality dating shows.
Shanique: I actually assumed that that would be part of the process, that it would be kind of a couples therapy situation. We did have topics we were guided on to talk through, which I thought was helpful. There were several points during the process — and this was recorded, but obviously everything can’t fit — where we had conversations as a group.
We had conversations with Nick [Lachey] and Vanessa [Lachey], everyone had their own scheduled time to talk with them. And no, they’re not therapists, but it definitely was helpful to have someone who’s on the other side of things, if you will, help us navigate our feelings.
Can you give some insight into what your conversations were like before coming onto the show? In your minds, what were the benefits?
Randall Griffin: We’re both level-headed people, so I think initially, our conversations were like no matter what, we’ll always try to keep a level head no matter what they throw at us. No matter who you might meet, you still have to make the best decision for us. I was thinking, ‘Let me not show my a** too much, let me not act out, because I’m here for a reason. I’m not just here to have fun and get a cheat-free hall pass. I’m here for an actual reason.’
I expressed that with Madlyn, and I expressed that with Shanique. I just knew that I was the one given the ultimatum for a reason, so why not try to make the best out of these weeks? Although I don’t want to be here, why not try to make the best out of them to level this playing field and see if I’m better for Shanique or if I’m better for somebody else?
This show was marketed as an experiment with certain rules in place. But things happened throughout the show that, if this were an actual science experiment, would ruin the merits of the results. Was seeing each other during the first trial marriage allowed or not allowed?
Shanique: It was highly discouraged. It was never a, ‘You can never see each other.’ Because we also lived in the same [apartment building], so I would see Randall out walking Madlyn’s dogs. It wasn’t like we weren’t ever going to see each other. But that night, I was very determined to talk to Randall because this comes the day after getting some information from Madlyn in the way she presented it at girls night.
I think [the lack of rules] was intentional, looking back on it. I think the purpose was just to see what would happen. I joke that Randall was so by the book in wanting to follow all the rules. There were things that were encouraged, but for the most part they tried to give us freedom of expression in it all.
Are you fans of reality dating shows? Is that why you were interested in coming on?
Shanique: When I tell you I don’t think I can even confidently say that I’ve watched a dating show all the way through. Love Is Blind, I saw a few episodes of it.
Randall: I watch them. I don’t tell people, though. But I watch them [laughs].
So what made you want to do The Ultimatum?
Shanique: Someone reached out to me directly on Instagram. Apparently, they had talked to one of our mutual friends and got some information that we were at this point in our relationship. At first, I thought it was a scam. Remember when I showed you? I was like, this can’t be real.
Randall: Yeah, I remember that.
Shanique: If I’m being totally honest, it’s not like I was having a conversation with Randall like, ‘I’m going to give you an ultimatum, like I’m gonna leave you if you don’t do this.’ But I think when the premise of the show was explained, I felt this was a really great opportunity for us to put our relationship to the test and, to his point, learn about ourselves — what we really need, what we really want — and also put your partner in a position to show you how they feel about you.
Netflix made it seem like most of you started dating right when COVID hit. Is that an accurate timeline? Lots of viewers were confused about why people dating for less than two years were giving marriage ultimatums.
Randall: I think once interviewing started, that’s when they asked us how long we were dating. So we interviewed in 2020, and then we said it was about a year and a half. But by the time we started the show it was close to two years.
Shanique: Randall and I met in June of 2018. We met for a job here in Austin and instantly became friends. About a year after that, to the date almost, we started dating. In the interviews, we said about a year and a half. I think they just stuck with that timeframe and we never really adjusted it.
It seems like you both truly got something good out of this. Would you agree that the show changed you both?
Randall: I would definitely agree. Although this was a television show, I thought of it, in a weird sense, more like therapy, like harsh therapy. I don’t think anyone would want to put themselves or their partner in a position like this.
Shanique: It wouldn’t happen. It just wouldn’t work in the real world.
Randall: The fact that this process is so accelerated, you’re almost forced to give yourself to your partner and that other person. There was no room for being shy or closed off. It’s either you do that and be closed off and shy, or your girlfriend’s going to leave you and vice versa. So you have to do these things in order to see that growth, especially when you do that switch for the next three weeks.
Shanique: I came in so headstrong. I knew that Randall was going to see that I’m the perfect girl for him and no one comes close. Obviously, watching him date other people, I was like, ‘OK, well, there are things other people can bring out of him that took me a little longer to do,’ and I can learn something from that. But also I’m not going to be able to control everything.
That is something that I had to release. I had to let it go and understand that whatever is supposed to happen in this process will happen. I can’t write the story for us.
Would you do it all again?
Randall: [Laughs] No, absolutely not.
Shanique: [Laughs] I think I learned what I needed to learn. I’m OK.
Randall: Definitely a rollercoaster ride I wouldn’t get back on. It was fun, but never again.
Shanique: It was fun, but it was scary.
What are your opinions on giving ultimatums in relationships now?
Shanique: Well, don’t go on TV and give an ultimatum [laughs]. But I do think in some cases it is OK to put your foot down and say ‘This is what I really demand in a relationship.’ I didn’t give [Randall] an ultimatum specifically, but that’s kind of what happened after the show wrapped. I said, ‘OK, well I still need this, so you’re either going to fix it or we’re going to be done.’ I don’t know, I think it’s important sometimes to be clear about what’s at stake.
Randall: I agree with Shanique. I don’t think you need to go to this extreme for ultimatums, but I do think it’s necessary that if somebody has expectations that aren’t being met and they’re kind of requiring that as a non-negotiable, it’s super important to bring that up. Not necessarily in an ultimatum sense like ‘if you don’t do this, I’m leaving you.’ But how can we work through this, or is it even workable?
Like with Nate and Lauren, I think [their ultimatum] was the realest one because she clearly, in her mind, was like, ‘I don’t want kids,’ where he was a big family person. So how can we work through this? We love each other, but is this going to stop us from continuing our relationship? I think having a conversation — instead of having an ultimatum, because I think that’s a harsh word to use — I think it’s super important. Now, if it gets to a point where you need to use ultimatums, so be it, but I don’t think it should be the focal point.
Shanique: Or the first resort. Certainly not for marriage. I think it’s important to let your person show you how they feel about you. That was always my thing from the jump: I need you to show me. And I think everyone should take that approach. Allow your person to love you.
There’s going to be an Ultimatum Season 2. What’s your advice to couples thinking about doing it? Warning? Advice? What would you like to say?
You can say it!
Shanique: Don’t [laughs].
Randall: [Laughs] I would say don’t. But if you’re the person given the ultimatum like myself, just go on there knowing what’s the worst thing that could happen, so you go in there thinking, ‘OK, I really need to get my sh*t together.’ Especially if you really love that person, because like you saw, people were getting left and breaking up on the show. Had they not been on that show, maybe that wouldn’t have happened. I think it brings to light things we tend to hide in relationships that we may be uncomfortable about bringing out or not feeling honest about. I think that’s something important [to remember] if someone wants to get on a show like this.
Shanique: I would just add that you have to go in and understand you cannot control this. So if you’re OK with what could happen really being a possibility, then sure, go for it. Test your relationship. Learn what you need to learn. But you better be OK with the outcome, because I found myself a lot of times, like, ‘What the hell did I sign up for?’ You have to be prepared for that mentally, emotionally. It’s gonna be a rollercoaster, so just be prepared.
The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On, Season 1, Streaming Now, Netflix