Showtime's Polyamory, Episode 6 recap: "Serious Affairs"
Coming up this Thursday (September 26) is the next-to-last episode of this season's Polyamory: Married & Dating. And it will contain what producer/director Natalia Garcia tells us is a network television first:
|Christian and Tahl|
"I am beaming with pride to be [creator of] the first network television series to show two real men making love; they are not actors playing gay characters, like Queer is Folk; these are real people. I am humbled by Tahl and Christian's fearless bravery to allow the cameras to witness their intimacy, and I'm so so incredibly proud of this moment — both personally for Tahl and for LGBT rights. Many folks like to criticize this series from afar but few are willing to walk their talk and allow the cameras witness the good, the bad, and the ugly — like these families have done. Thursday's moment between Tahl and Christian is groundbreaking, beautiful, a first for "Docu-Reality" — and I am honored to be associated with this moment.
"And a massive thank you to Showtime for supporting this moment — and this series — in its authenticity 100%. Networks like to "change the story" and manipulate storylines for whatever reason — but not Showtime. They truly are the best network in town."
But first, it's recap time for last week's Episode 6, "Serious Affairs." It aired September 19 and is now in late-night re-airings.
We start with the ongoing drama of Megan, Chris, their cheating and kicked-out wife Leigh Ann, and her boyfriend Chicago Chris. Leigh Ann has agreed to her husband's ultimatum that boyfriend be put on a plane back to Chicago early.
Leigh Ann has been texting Husband Chris and Megan, asking them to meet him before he goes. Husband and Megan, out jogging, discuss this.
Chris: "I'm considering doing this simply because I feel like we will then have the ability to say, 'Now you've got to sit down with us and, you know, really face reality.'"
Megan still doesn't like it: "I feel like the relationship between you, Leigh Ann and I has been so dysfunctional. There hasn't been that much love there. We've been just fucking dragging each other along, in the mud. And I don't know if I can continue to do it anymore."...
Chris says, while texting: "Look, I'm going to go. And I hope that you will come with me."
We see Leigh Ann and Chicago Chris receiving the text. Leigh Ann: "I'm excited and terrified, all in one foul swoop [sic]."
Down the freeway, Jennifer of the San Diego pod is unburdening to her husband Tahl about her mono boyfriend Jesse's jealousy problem. Jesse has always accepted that Jen is married and he seems fine with Tahl himself. But he has imposed rules that she can't even kiss additional guys, and their motorcycle excursion in the last episode was spoiled by his obsessing about the goodbye hug she gave Kamala's boyfriend Jason back home.
Jen to Tahl: "The hug didn't feel like that big of a deal to me. [But] you know how jealousy is."
In the front room of the house, Michael's brother Christian is down on the rug building block structures with Michael and Kamala's son Devin, 6. It's the first time we've seen Devin this season. I was beginning to think his parents had decided he stays off camera. I got to know Devin in real life this summer, and he's an impressive kid: smart, confident, verbal, outgoing, proud of his thoughts and ideas. In July I spent ten days with Michael, Kamala Devi, and Devin at the Network for a New Culture's Summer Camp East in West Virginia. Michael and Kamala doted on him and spent a great deal of time away from the main events helping to run the kids' program.
As Devin and Christian are building blocks on the rug, Michael's girlfriend Rachel arrives with a couple of potted plants in hand. She introduces herself to them. Kamala and Michael come in, and she and Kamala hug easily. Michael: "Rachel is definitely making an effort to hang out with the family and get to know Kamala better. I really want her to know what she's getting into, if she's going to be more involved with us."
What a pointed contrast with jealous Jesse.
Kamala: "Have you ever dated somebody with kids?"
Rachel: "Yes, and I grew up with four brothers and four sisters. So I was like a big-sister mom."
Kamala to us: "Devin is such a huge part of Michael's life, so she's going to have to make really good friends with Devin as well."
Michael: "I'm happy with how Rachel is responding to Devin, how she's interacting with him. Devin comes first, and I need a lover who's going to be responsive to that."
In walk Tahl and Jen, and we see something interesting: for the first time, the show becomes self-referential. Jen tells the camera, "Rachel seems like a nice girl, but I haven't warmed up to her yet because, I'm a little uncomfortable with kind of how we met her. Since we've done the show, a lot more people are coming to our poly events, so she's a fan. And while I don't feel it's wrong to be friends with fans, having sex with them right away seems a little bit too fast for me."
Tahl (who is out as bi) and Christian (gay) arrange a hot tubbing date. Jen gets boyfriend Jesse's okay for them to use his hot tub. Tahl suggests it's time to have the safe-sex and boundaries talk. The three of them go off to another room. Jen to the camera: "I Like Christian, and I know Tahl's been wanting to connect with guys lately, so that's really cool, but as always, I just need to talk to whomever Tahl's having sex with."
To Christian, she says: "Basically I know everybody's safe-sex practices in the pod — it's something we talk about at all the time — but since I don't know you, I really don't know what yours are?"
Christian: "Well, I do have safe sex. That means wearing a condom. I am HIV-negative." I suspect there was more to this conversation, but we don't see it. (I like Reid Mihalko's safer-sex elevator speech guidelines. Watch the YouTube version.) Jen goes on to ask that, out of politeness to Jesse, they not have sex in his hot tub. Or, she apparently goes on to ask, anywhere else yet. Tahl clarifies: "So we can play a little bit? Just not sex yet?"
Kamala is taking Jen out on their just-the-two-of-them weekly date. The destination is a surprise: Kamala ushers her into a an empty theater space with a beautifully draped, colorfully lit stage. With bright red couch. Jen laughs with delight: "It looks like something Elvira would do." Kamala says, "We don't always get to do something for just you and me that's really special. And so I wanted to make that for you."
|Jen and Kamala|
Kamala gets adventurous. Sex toys, a collar for Jen, BDSM toys. Kamala tells us: "For people who are not used to bondage, it seems scary. The ropes are confining you and then you have no control, and of course, Jen is Miss Control. So this is edge for her."
And yet it doesn't take. Jen is not really into it and it becomes painful to watch. Jen: "I'm so weighed down by this argument with Jesse that I just can't get into it. Another day I might have had more fun, today is just not that day." And so they end up cuddling on the couch on the stage. Jen to Kamala: "He's holding a little resentment, I have a little bit of resentment, I was wondering if you could give us some help there? I don't want to talk to him about it because I feel like I'll make it worse? I know you're busy—"
"I'm always for making time for you. I'll set it up." Kamala is a professional relationship coach (and, I observed last July, a skilled ZEGG Forum facilitator) and is thrilled that Jen has asked her.
The split-apart Hollywood family, plus Chicago Chris, all meet in Griffith Park at a picnic table under trees. Talk about tense. Chicago Chris, the polite one, offers to shake hands. Megan refuses. So does Husband Chris, who then dusts off his own hands to the side.
Come on people, at Yalta Roosevelt shook hands with Stalin.
Leigh Ann to the rest: "I guess we wanted to meet and apologize and make amends, and move forward with clarity between everybody, and understanding. That's what my hope was."
And then it comes out: Leigh Ann had told Chicago Chris nothing about the rest of her life "until a bit late on the trail," he says. By then "I'd already met a girl who needed somebody to pay a little attention to her." Husband Chris sighs in disgust. "Look, in my opinion a real man would have said, 'I can't continue doing this, until you get your shit straightened out.'"
Leigh Ann: "But I wasn't honest, and I wasn't real with him, so I didn't give him the chance to be as noble as he could have been."
And on it goes. Megan and Leigh Ann seem to be having things out between them more honestly than they've known before. Really? Husband Chris steps in with another of his boss-man ultimatums, to Chicago Chris: "You understand that you will never, ever, be her boyfriend again." Leigh Ann nods yes. Chicago Chris, the gentleman here, keeps his peace. They depart. The final word comes later from Megan: "I'm not sure if it's fixable."
It's night at Jesse's house. Tahl and Christian arrive, Jesse shows them the hot tub and heads out; they're alone. They strip and climb into the tub, chat, admire each other — "Christian and I start kissing and playing around a bit, it's kind of foreplay, kind of rowdy." But horseplay is as far as they've agreed to go tonight... and so we see two really built guys romping and splashing, kissing and cuddling.
And I guess more will happen this Thursday.
Previews from this Thursday's Episode 7, "Coming Around," the next to last. In which, we're told, "Chris and Leigh Ann are apprehensive on their first date alone." (What? In the whole three years Megan has been with them?!)
It's less than three weeks to the San Diego pod's four-day Poly Palooza, which will take over a resort hotel in Desert Hot Springs for Columbus Day weekend, October 10 – 14. "Immerse yourself in a sex-positive celebration of liberated love: learn from top love experts, express yourself in group, experiment at play parties, soak in healing waters, and create life long relationships with a worldwide tribe of love leaders."
Here are pix from their public TV viewing and Q&A party in a theater September 7th.
Each episode airs Thursday at 11 p.m. ET/PT, then again several times during the week; see schedule (on the left there, click On TV > All Airings).
If you're a Showtime subscriber, you can watch any episode on demand (click On Demand) or on a computer or device via Showtime Anytime, after it first airs.
Showtime’s Facebook page and 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). There are eight episodes this season.