"I Love You. And You. And You."
On July 26th, England's Channel 4 aired a one-hour poly documentary: "I Love You. And You. And You" (executive producer Mark Soldinger, producer/director Liz Friend, production company Firecracker Films). The show is not available outside the UK even on the internet.
Among the British polys who saw it, it was controversial, and the whole affair sparked intense discussion (see the Comments section below). The show turned out to be part of Channel 4's sleaze-oriented "Tainted Love" series even though the film crew said, when one poly family asked directly if they were filming for this unsavory series, that they weren't.
First off, here's a review of the show from the Times of London the next morning (July 27):
A society that encourages us to want more and more might also explain a new wrinkle in the sexual revolution polyamory, in which adults commit to more than one long-term relationship. Liz Friend’s I Love You. And You. And You (Channel 4) followed two polyamorous households in Seattle: Terisa and her two live-in boyfriends; and Jerome with his wife, two daughters and two mistresses living under the same roof. No wonder the screen kept splitting like the opening credits of The Brady Bunch. It became clear that this “ethical non-monogamy” (do Americans have legitimising terms for everything?) requires at least as many “boundaries” and rules as monogamous relationships.
At first those interviewed had the confident air of mountaineers and mathematicians who had made something complicated and scary seem simple and safe, but it soon became clear that nothing was straightforward. Terisa developed a rictus grin when one of her lovers found a possible second girlfriend. When Terisa invited her to a dinner party, she turned up with her ex-husband. We had the makings of a French sex comedy.
Jerome, a self-confessed “alpha male” who indulged in mock battles at the weekends, needed to schedule his private life much like Bill Paxton in Five’s Mormon drama Big Love. Indeed, Jerome seemed more like a polygamist as he denied his lovers other relationships while trying to hide his lifestyle from his children by making sure only his wife the “primary partner” was seen in his bed in the morning. As the radio alarm went off and two women tumbled out of his bedroom to retreat to the living room, Sonny and Cher were heard singing I Got You Babe. You were left wondering what self-esteem issues these women had.
Although Friend’s documentary asked pertinent questions, such as the effect on Jerome’s children (they regarded one of daddy’s lovers as the babysitter), it descended into a less satisfying random collection of testimonies from polyamorous “families” at some unexplained festival or summer camp. “Monogamy is so unnatural,” insisted one woman. But that’s what you expect someone to say who wears a T-shirt with the legend “Abstinence sucks”.
Okayyy.... And here is what one of the first commenters who saw the show writes to us:
I have to say the London Times review was not far off the mark. The show did start off with brief clips of lots of lovely people at the PolyCamp explaining what polyamory meant for them. It then followed Terisa and her two boyfriends, I think it was Scott and Doug, and their relationship for a few months. Things did get kinda strange when Doug (I think it was) wanted to get to know another woman. He brought her to the house to meet for their first date, and the poor woman was met by Doug, two dogs and Terisa... It did seem that the poor woman had been dropped somewhat in the deep end of it all and didn't like what she saw.
Don't get me started on the second family (Jerome, Francisca, Angel and Linda). It started with an introduction to them all and saying that Linda was the newest member to the family as she has only known Jerome a few months. Cut to a scene of family life with all the partners in bed with him in the middle, the alarm goes off, and Linda and Angel get out of bed. I'm thinking yeah, OK, so they gotta go to work early maybe? No; they are getting out of bed to go sleep downstairs on the couch and floor so the kids don't find out mommy and daddy have two other people in bed.
Fair enough, I suppose, if you don't want your kids finding out, but then they LIE to the kids. Daddy's first girlfriend, Angel, is known as *the babysitter*, and Linda, daddy's newest girlfriend, doesn't figure to the kids. There are *rules* that nobody apart from Francisca (the wife) is allowed to show him affection beyond a kiss on the cheek in front of the kids.
When Jerome wants *alone time* with one of the women, the other two wait downstairs to be called up! When the interviewer challenged him about the fact that none of the women are allowed relationships with other people, and that's a bit more like polygamy, his face went all strange too....
[Their whole situation] seemed a bit strained, to be honest. I wound up wondering what exactly these women get from being with an ego freak like him?
--Jenni (a.k.a. Ssshh on LiveJournal's Polyamory community)
Folks, one lesson here is that we need more good, healthy poly families willing to do media appearances, so that when reporters and producers come beating the bushes for polyfolks to interview and this is going to happen more and more they'll have a better chance of finding good representative people to represent us.
Second: research who you are talking to. Most media outfits are responsible and professional. Some are not. There are knowledgeable people in the poly and sexual-minority communities to ask for advice on this (start by asking here). If you want to go public, there are a couple of Yahoo groups that serve as poly speakers bureaus, more or less; contact me for information: alan7388 [at] comcast [dot] net .
To the above comments, glossolalia remarks:
I noticed your comments about "adjusted" poly families being willing to be interviewed by the media. The thing is, I am part of a triad that was also taped for the documentary, but we are so boringly free of potential drama, I don't think they found us interesting enough. We've been together for six years, have a toddler and a baby (our youngest had just come home from hospital when we were filmed), and the one secondary relationship that one of us has, is a long-term one. Not a lot of drama to catch the eye/imagination there. ;-)
Not all opinions of the show are negative. See the discussion on LiveJournal/Polyamory_uk.
Jerome himself, the "alpha male" in the second family, has written in to explain himself and his family. See comments number 5 and 16 by clicking "comments" below.
A particularly long, detailed, and insightful description of the show -- placing it in its context in the "Tainted Love" series -- came in from Emilie a week later; see comment number 17 by clicking "comments" below.
As for the show itself: If your computer's IP address is in the UK, you can register to watch Channel 4 and its archives online.
Update: As of 2013 you can watch the show on Vimeo worldwide. Or on YouTube. As of 2012 it was still occasionally being rebroadcast in British Commonwealth countries.