Showtime's Polyamory, Episode 3: A dramatic contrast emerges
Tomorrow (Thursday Sept. 5) we'll see Episode 4 of Showtime's reality series Polyamory: Married & Dating. It's on at 11 p.m. ET/PT and will re-air several times through the coming week.
Here's where the stories stand so far, as the drama builds.
In Episode 2, we saw differences in communication skills emerging in the two families that the series is following. The San Diego pod of four is trained and skilled in this stuff, touchy-feely as it may seem. The Hollywood three are obviously less so. In Episode 3 last Thursday, the divergence became extreme and left one family in crisis. The director drew the reasons very plainly to my eye, and I hope viewers unfamiliar with poly culture got it too.
Episode 3, "Disconnection," opens with the San Diego pod. We see Jennifer and Tahl happily waking up in bed. Tahl says how much he appreciates that Jen is giving him more time and attention now, after their three-way timesharimg discussion with her boyfriend Jesse. "I feel flattered," Jen says, that Tahl still so treasures his time with her after their years of marriage.
On the other side of the house, Michael is telling Kamala that he's off to see Rachel, his new heartthrob who's just in from L.A. As he heads to the door she says, "I want to talk to you about it before you go." They sit together. "I know you've been seeing a lot of her," Kamala says, "and I wanted to check in about how things are going in the relationship." She explains to the camera: "I'd like to see him go deeper with Rachel. And I'd like to see her more a part of the family." Michael says he'd like to bring her home more but a lot of it comes down to time conflicts.
Kamala: "I hear you saying that — that you want to go deeper with her. But I need to know why don't you? It's pretty much like a pattern — you get close to women sexually, but you don't maintain those relationships and make them long-term."
They are reflective, thoughtful, touching hands, looking each other in the eyes, and looking for a win-win situation. Michael agrees to bring Rachel over and asks, "Would you like to play with her too?" He suggests that a threesome would be a good way to go deeper; "because it's going to bring us all closer together."
Kamala responds, "I'm interested to see where the chemistry is," but what she wants most "is to get to know her better as a person."
To the camera Kamala explains that much as she loves group sex and finds it a good way to integrate new people into closeness, a threesome with Rachel is not a priority for her at present.
Meanwhile up the freeway, trouble looms in the Hollywood trio. Leigh Ann has been away on a business trip in Las Vegas for a week and has been strangely incommunicado. Her husband Chris and their partner Megan are driving to the airport to pick her up. They've both heard rumors around town that something serious is going on with her.
And Leigh Ann at the airport is telling the camera, "I've been travelling a lot lately for work. Being away is like a big relief because I get to be really independent and I don't have all like, the home pressures." She is nervous about the reuniting.
Back to Jen, who's in a beauty salon with her sister. The sister has long been both fascinated and creeped out by Jen's remarkable love life. "I want to know everything!" Jen speaks to her frankly and tells lots about her everyday goings-on and relationship developments, to reactions of shock and delight. "I could never do that!" And some judgmental scorn about Jen switching her fluid bonding — "Wait, what?" — and condom use from her boyfriend to her husband. (Tahl now uses the condoms.)
"Well, Tahl has sex with a lot more people, and Jesse doesn't," Jen explains matter-of-factly. To her sister's gasping incredulity. This is a reality show, and I've been assured that we're seeing things as they happened. But Jen's open, gentle, yet wrong-footed presence to her sister ought to win her an acting award for sympathy.
Michael drives over to Rachel's. There we watch them make love. In the sweetness afterward, Michael follows up on Kamala's request and then some.
"I'd like to take it a little bit deeper with you. I wanted to talk to you about the possibility of integrating more with our family." And he invites Rachel into a threesome with Kamala, whom she hasn't met. He's the most awkward here that I've seen him — maybe he's embarrassed knowing that this threesome idea is his own fixation and that he's not quite speaking for Kamala — but he's forthright in clearly stating his wish.
Rachel, bemused: "I'm trying to understand the way this conversation is going." Getting into bed with her lover's wife is not how she usually thinks of "going deeper" with a lover, she explains. They continue the conversation. Rachel says, "I would really like as a first step to talk with Kamala and get more comfortable about it." So we shall see.
Back to the tense pickup at the airport. In the car, Chris and Megan try to get a conversation going with Leigh Ann about what's up. Awkward silences ensue. Chris, aside to the camera: "Normally she wants to share every detail" about her trips.
Leigh Ann aside the camera: "I'm really bad at confronting. Until I'm backed into a corner, and then all the information I have to share comes out in the wrong way. But, I still don't think in the car is the best time."
So they drive home in strained quiet. Polys not talking?! I wanted to pop into the car and innocently say "So, how about them Padres?"
Pro tip: Accepted Poly Doctrine declares that a car is actually not a Wrong Time To Talk.
Once home, Megan finally gets it out of Leigh Ann. She's been seeing someone else. And was with him the week in Vegas. "And also," as Leigh Ann begins to cry, "I didn't feel I could tell you guys."
Chris has to be told next. To the camera, breaking down: "I feel like he's going to hate me forever. I'm super scared. Because it's not what I want. I just was desperate. I don't know how else to explain it."
Chris comes in and sits down. His fighter's eyes are stony. Leigh Ann tells the two of them that she met the guy on a business trip in Chicago and couldn't help it, it just happened. "I wanted to be comfortable, and not have all the drama, and all the bullshit! Like, love that I have with him causing drama with you guys. Love that I have with you guys causing drama with me!"
Megan: "So who why didn't you tell us that you wanted something else, something on the side separate from us?"
Leigh Ann: "Because I didn't know until I had it! It wasn't like I planned it! It took me by complete, fucking, surprise."
And, she says, "He wants to meet you guys."
Chris: "Oh. Yeah! Why would he want to meet me? What does he think is going to happen then?"
Leigh Ann to the camera: "I don't feel that he hears me, I don't feel that I can get anywhere anyway so why should I even try to communicate?"
Chris: "You dragged us into a relationship with another person without our consent. That's not polyamory! That's cheating. That's what happens in monogamy! The idea was to not cheat on each other, not lie to each other, not leave each other with these hurt feelings. That was the whole idea behind it, Leigh Ann! Let me take a break." He walks out. "Because," he explains to us, "my temper can be out of control."
Pro tip: Do not argue from the definition of polyamory moments after you've scorned the concept of a metamour wanting to meet you.
It goes on. It comes out that Chris and Leigh Ann's marriage, which they had thought was so good, has been deteriorating from the inside for years, and now it's in the open. Megan watches carefully, with big eyes. Finally, Chris to Leigh Ann:
"Either you need to pack up and find somewhere to stay, or I do. Because we're going to need some time."
Leigh Ann confides to the camera, crying, that at least moving out will be — she gets it out — a relief.
To be continued.
Possibly relevant observations by Kimchi Cuddles:
|"Her Terms," by Kimchi Cuddles. Used by permission.|
Heads up, SoCal people! The San Diego pod has rented a local theater for a showing and party this Saturday evening, September 7. Kamala Devi writes,
Come watch [episodes 1 – 3] of Showtime's Season 2 of Polyamory: Married & Dating at 6:45 pm at Victory Theater, downtown San Diego, on SAT Sept 7th. Afterwards we will have a Q & A with director Natalia Garcia and the San Diego Polyamory family.
A $10 donation is requested to cover the rental.
Here are previews of tomorrow's Episode 4, "Truth & Consequences." In which, says a promo, "Tahl breaks one of Jen's rules. Leigh Ann is kicked out of the house."
Kamala Devi says that this is her favorite video clip with Michael and Rachel:
Each episode airs on Thursdays at 11 p.m. ET/PT, then again several times during the week; see schedule (on the left there, click On TV > All Airings).
Episodes can also be watched on demand after they first air (click On Demand), or on a computer or device via Showtime Anytime, if you're a Showtime subscriber.
Showtime’s website for the series.
All trailers and video clips from Season 2 so far.
All video clips from Season 1.
To keep up with doings of the San Diego family, see their Facebook Fanpage.
Here's my own stuff about Season 1, with plots, spoilers, commentary, and notices in other media.
My stuff about Season 2 so far (including this post; scroll down).