Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

August 4, 2006

"I Love You. And You. And You":
More British press clips

Some of you still don't think the poly TV documentary in the "Tainted Love" series (on Great Britain's Channel 4, July 26th) was altogether a bad thing. Maybe this new batch of press clippings from the UK will convince you.

The show was titled "I Love You. And You. And You." See our first report on the show and its aftermath, in particular the reader discussions under "comments" (where the show's most controversial character personally weighs in). [Update: as of 2013 you can see the show on Vimeo].

From the Financial Times (July 26):

"Polyamory" is what used to be called free love, now a sociological system whereby a so-called alpha male acquires several apparently compliant females....

Liz Friend's riveting, deadpan look at two households smacks of early Mike Leigh or futurist Ayckbourn. Terisa lives with Scott ("It works out well," he says in a strange, strangulated tone) and Larry, a perky psychobabbler.... Terisa's unwavering brightness becomes metallic when Scott seeks additional sex. I feel sorry for Scott and the dogs, possibly all longing for a conventional lifestyle. Not so Jerome ("I prefer more submissive women") with wife Francesca, girlfriend Angel and new recruit, sceptical Linda, whose face as Jerome's sexual schedule is worked out on the calendar is a picture of repressed emotion.

The Times of London (July 26):

It is every bit as complicated as polygamy, but not as illegal. There are still only 200 polyamorous relationships in the UK, so it doesn't yet offer much of an alternative to monogamous partnerships.

This programme, which follows two polyamorous groupings in the US, will show you why. There's that old jealousy thing, of course. Some partners are treated more equally than others. Three people may love the same one person, but may not necessarily like one another. The big cheese ends up with time-management problems; bedtime becomes a logistical nightmare and child-protection agencies go into meltdown.

The Mirror (July 26):

The way everyone here copes with jealousy is by pretending it doesn't exist, but listen hard and you can hear their teeth grinding in the silences between the creaking of bedsprings.

This documentary chucks in a lot of statistics, which I'm pretty certain they got the work experience to make up.

The Herald, Glasgow (July 26):

The fact that Jerome doesn't want any of his female partners to have another boyfriend does suggest that polyamory, in his case at any rate, doesn't necessarily translate as equality.

The Observer (July 23):

After last week's The Man with 80 Wives about the leader of a polygamous cult, this second in Channel Four's freaky Tainted Love series is a voyeuristic examination of the phenomenon of 'polyamory', defined here as the philosophy and practice of loving more than one person.

...What happens though when the 'family' includes some children? Another Seattle resident, Jerome, who has a wife and two girlfriends ('I prefer more submissive women because it just makes things easier...'), demands that the two extra-maritals leap out of the communal bed at 6am in order to be downstairs by the time the girls wake up, but he cannot help worrying that the Child Protective Services might find out and condemn their set-up.

Fascinating as this documentary is, it is hardly analytical and leaves many questions unanswered. Towards the end it degenerates into a kaleidoscopic portrayal of hard-to-fathom poly groupings all over the States intermingled with unexplained footage of them cavorting around naked at open-air conventions. In this country polyamory is in its infancy but even though 60 per cent of couples are said to be having affairs, I am far from convinced that the logistic nightmare of polyamory is the answer.

The Daily Mail (July 26):

A growing number of people, we are told, are turning to 'polyamory', also known as ethical nonmonogamy, in which long-term, multiple, but stable relationships have replaced the norm. 'Love is not finite,' says one of the people featured in this film, which follows two poly families (including Linda, Francisca, Jerome and Angel,
pictured below from left) over a period of three months to see if this way of life is sustainable.... The subject poses pertinent questions, even if this rather voyeuristic account doesn't provide answers.

The Independent (July 27):

...In the end, Nathalie and Jeremy were able to tackle Nathalie's addiction because the strength of their love outweighed the difficulties. It's unlikely any of the "polyamorous" relationships in I Love You. And You. And You would have survived such a scenario. "Polyamory" is the unattractive neologism for a form of unmarried, open-ended polygamy in which new partners can be added and subtracted like pieces of a Meccano set....

Liz Friend's documentary led with the case for multiple partners: that you need no longer "make do" with just one, and that practitioners can take new lovers without fear of jealousy or reprisal. Shadowing a couple of "poly-families" in Seattle, the film then spent the next hour gleefully demolishing such wishful thinking with the evidence of its own eyes. The simmering psychodrama of Larry, Terisa and Scott's open-ended relationship provided some of the best TV....

You could see what was in it for Larry, Terisa and Scott: Terisa sharing Larry and Scott, while Larry and Scott studiously ignored each other's existence. She was a narcissistic attention-seeker and the men both liked their own space, and it all bubbled along nicely on the surface, like many marriages for that matter, until Larry decided he wanted to introduce a new girl into their menage a trois. "That's cool, that's cool," protested Terisa too much, turning from timeshare lover into a liberal mother-from-hell, even helping Larry tidy his bedroom in case he got lucky with his first date. As it happened, Larry didn't get lucky, and his pet dog messed up his bed. Animals, it seems, are less adept at disguising their jealousy than humans.

Financial Times (July 29):

...Less grisly but much crueller was Wednesday's I Love You. And You. And You, a slyly witty portrait of polyamorists in the US.... It requires "faith that love is not finite", according to one enthusiast -- but love did seem to be stretched a bit thin in the two uneasy households....

At least monogamy doesn't demand so much of one's time-management skills. Jerome, the one-bloke-three-women bloke, had to resort to some pretty intricate diary-work to keep the household ticking over. Still, he got to take his women wargaming in the damp woods at the weekend. Camo-clad and toting a rifle, he urged his chubby harem to "work your way up the ridge!" One sensed that they were less into it than he was. But for viewers it was a treat.

Once again: we need more good poly families willing to come out and represent us. Because the world has started looking, and if we don't represent ourselves, the hostiles and the satirists will do it for us.

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