On Fox sitcom, poly as a defining Millennial coolness thing
Just a few years ago polys were stereotyped as gray-haired ex-hippies. Now the largest poly discussion group outside of Fetlife (as far as I know) is reddit/r/polyamory, with close to 10,000 members, and reddit is mostly 20-somethings. We've seen countless other signs. (For instance. And lots more [includes this post; scroll down].)
On Tuesday (Oct. 9), Fox TV aired an episode of New Girl in which a 30ish Gen Y-er thinks he's getting old and un-cool. To dramatize this, screenwriter Berkley Johnson has four hip, cool Millennials move into the apartment across the hall. How does the screenwriter convey Millennial coolness? Partly by making three of them a polyamorous triad. Using those words. The older Gen Y-er (behind couch above) reacts with distress and envy of the young 'uns.
Jessica Karels of Modern Poly guest-writes us a review:
New Girl is a sitcom that focuses on the lives of four roommates: Jess, Nick, Schmidt, and Winston. I learned about the reference to polyamory in this episode from watching keyword searches on Twitter.
The episode involves the dynamics between Jess and Schmidt. Jess, laid off from her teaching job, works at a fast-food place. Schmidt, who is success-oriented to the point of being cocky, is disappointed that she's working part-time in a menial job. The tables turn when the new neighbors across the hall hate Schmidt and adore Jess. Schmidt starts to wonder if the neighbors hate him because they see him as "old."
After another attempt to be cool blows up in Schmidt's face, Jess tells him he's trying too hard. Schmidt soon finds out that the reason the neighbors don't like him isn't his age — it's that he's a "viciously unbearable asshead."
The amusing twist is that the age difference here is maybe 5 or 6 years. The young neighbors appear to be in their early 20s. We see an exaggeration of Millennial hipster culture — quinoa, sitars, hula-hoops, and iPhone covers that resemble cassette tapes (how ironic). The youngsters seem fixated on a bohemian lifestyle and come across as modern-day hippies and counterculturalists.
Polyamory comes up mid-show as Schmidt blames his age for why the neighbors dislike him. "They’re the future of humanity!" he laments. "A pan-ethnic, pansexual hive mind and they want nothing to do with me!"
Jess and Nick stumble through explaining the relationship dynamic:
Jess: "Brory, Sutton, and Fife are in a triad, and Chaz is a floater."
Schmidt: "They’re polyamorous?! Dammit!" (making him feel older still).
Apparently being polyamorous is now a Millennial thing. I'm turning 33 in less than three weeks. Thank you New Girl and Fox Network for making me feel old and validating my decision to switch my online moniker from "Young Metro Poly" to "Polyamory Pundit" :p
Also, a writer at a college newspaper does her own review of the episode (Oct. 10, 2012).
Some may remember seasons 1 and 2 of NBC's Parks and Recreation in 2009 and 2010, when young intern April was in a triad with two guys. The relationship ended, but it was sort of a characteristic-millennial thing while it lasted, and no one on the show spoke against it. A reviewer in the Los Angeles Times suggested at the time that it was "perhaps the first functioning polyamory on network prime time."