As Showtime's Polyamory nears its wrapup...
First, some recaps:
After a low-excitement but educational Episode 3 (showing a lot of poly relationship discussions and negotiations), tension and drama return in Episode 4.
We see the Vanessa-Lindsey-Anthony triad go through a crucial turning point in its three-year existence. Vanessa plans to get down on her knee and propose that Anthony and Lindsey (who are married) "marry" her too. With a public ceremony, an exchange of vows and rings, and by the three of them presenting themselves to the world as a unit henceforth.
She springs her surprise on them at a formal dinner in a restaurant in front of a gathering of their closest friends.
I'm reminded of the guys who propose to their girlfriends at baseball games on TV, with the announcer cheering them on, a microphone in her face, the scoreboard displaying their closeups, and 30,000 spectators hollering.
Baaaad poly, say I.
[Update: Anthony has posted that in fact the three of them had discussed the marriage proposal at some length beforehand. I guess this is an example of how you never know what the video editing has done to the reality.]
In the trailers, we've already seen a flash of Anthony's distressed-looking reaction: "Holy shiiiit."
But in the actual scene, we see that post initial shock, Anthony and Lindsey are screamingly delighted. (We've seen the two of them already talking privately about making it a group marriage.) Vanessa puts inscribed paper rings on the fingers of all three, and announces that they'll all have these "rings" tattooed on their fingers. Remind me never to get in a relationship with someone who requires I get their tattoo. But they all seem delighted with the idea as a symbol of their commitment forever and ever. Phew. Vanessa sure lucked out.
They and two of their dearest friends at the proposal dinner celebrate that night with a happy fivesome in one big bed.
Meanwhile, at the Kamala-Michael-Tahl-Jen quad: Kamala has been working through her feelings of possessiveness and jealousy pretty impressively. She has decided to set Michael up with a "tea and chat" date with her utterly hot special girlfriend Roxanne, whom Michael has long been interested in. All goes well. We see Kamala processing at home with Jen and Tahl while the date is in friendly, kissy progress. These people generally seem to know what they're doing better than the triad.
Episode 5 aired on Thursday and is now re-airing. It is the first in which the two groups meet.
Jen in the quad, who was the most reluctant to merge households, has been feeling out of sorts with the new group-living situation. She feels she's losing touch with Tahl and is no longer running her own home (true on both counts). To help the transition, Kamala and crew organize a housewarming party as a way of announcing to their friends and the San Diego poly community that the household is now the equal home of four.
Immediately there's a problem. Tahl wants to invite an old ex whom he once lied about to Jen and "fucked up with." Jen doesn't want to see her, doesn't want her coming into her home. Long discussion short: Tahl declares "This is where I’m drawing the line. This is all our house, and I’m not going to be told who I can’t have in the house." Kamala, who should know better, butts in rather than out. Upshot: Jen backs down as usual. The more I see of Tahl the less I like him.
But in the end it goes well. As pretty much everything among these people eventually does. The old ex brings Jen flowers. They all have a good time through the evening.
The party is also, in part, the biweekly San Diego poly discussion group. We learn that this is the first contact with the wider poly community that Anthony, Vanessa, and Lindsey have had! No wonder they've been blundering like newbies in the wilderness. They're nervous as they drive there, hoping that they'll find community where they can connect and draw wisdom and support, but are prepared for disappointment. They come away thrilled to have found even more than they hoped.
A new topic is coming up with them, and they bring it up to the discussion group. Should Lindsey come out to her birth family? Her folks are the last ones in their group to know....
And, we will soon find out, Tahl feels it's time for him to some out to his parents too. Jen once again looks glum: "I think it's a bad idea. Why do they need to know? I mean, I bet they don't even want to know." Stay tuned for Episode 6:
The show's director-producer, Natalia Garcia, tells us that Episode 6 (coming up this Thursday August 16) is especially dear to her heart. She writes,
I will say that my favorite episode is Episode 6 -- "Radical Honesty." It's extremely emotional, the families are at their rawest. I am so proud of them and I cry every time I see that episode. I hope everyone catches that one.
My own view remains that for all the imperfections and humanity of the cast, the show is the best thing that has happened for public understanding of polyamory in ages.
For that matter, it models thoughtful relationship work in general better than anything I recall on TV.
Meanwhile, lots of noteworthy stuff has accumulated since my last post about the show.
Jessica Karels' summaries and commentaries at Modern Poly continue: Episode 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
She writes, "I watch the show anywhere from 3 to 6 times in the process of writing my reviews. My husband and his girlfriend keep having the luck of walking in either right before or during one of the sex scenes. The household joke is that me 'writing the review' is an excuse to watch softcore poly-porn ;)"
She has also posted a collection of online reactions to Showtime's Polyamory: Married and Dating as of July 21, with discussion. And she plans an interview with the show's triad.
A review of the show by Team Triad, "three lovely people who love each other...and love to talk."
TheBlackLeatherBelt is a poly/kinky gal named Lily who's posting satirical but detailed summaries of each episode, including dialog because "you see, children, on the West Coast they have Tantra. And here on the East Coast, we have Snark." Episode 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Update: 6, 7.
Listen to Cunning Minx's and Lusty Guy's thought-provoking audio review of the series on Minx's Polyamory Weekly podcast, Episode #329: "Reality: Polyamory on Showtime" (July 31, 2012). Show notes. Minx and Guy make a great podcast pair.
Says Time Warner Cable's RoadRunner site:
You Can Love Polyamory Without Other Shows Getting Jealous
...Don't tune in expecting wild swinging debauchery, though. Polyamory focuses on how these complex relationships work through carefully laid boundaries between each person. Though this sometimes causes the show to drag in places, there's still that "LOOK HOW WEIRD FACTOR" keeping you glued to the screen.
A writer at the feminist ontheragmag.com is fascinated and freaked and wants Jen to run away.
In Trenton, New Jersey, a newspaper columnist stuck in old culture freaks out completely.
Anthony of the show's triad posts on Facebook (Aug. 4, 2012):
After looking today at the incredible number of tweets about Polyamory: Married and Dating, and reading all these people who'd never heard of it, are thinking about these things for the first time, and how important and monumentous of a moment that is for the civil rights and social legitimacy of poly people, I feel really grateful to and proud of Showtime, the production company BermanBraun, and the creator Natalia Garcia for taking the risk. I wish the poly community members who nitpick about the "message it's sending" would step back and realize it did something huge and unprecedented just by putting the word in countless people's mouths for the first time.
In that regard, Polyamory in the News is getting about 150 extra visitors a day from people googling for the show.
On the other hand, the show is making fewer waves in the media that I expected. The Gawker review is the only serious notice I've seen in even semi-major, semi-mainstream media.
Can't get Showtime? Here are all the official video clips from the series, adding up to about 18 minutes of trailers so far (August 11). They're faster-paced than the actual show but give a pretty good look at what's going on, minus most of the sex scenes.
But my favorite clip isn't there; it's the one from the quad's relationship-agreement discussion at the top of the Gawker review, here. If there's one clip from the series to show people what poly life is about, this is it.
Here are all my posts about the series (including this one; scroll down).