Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

January 4, 2012

Whole raft of polyfolks on TV today, Thursday, and next Tuesday.

When it rains it pours!

● Jaiya Ma writes that her triad family is about to appear on ABC's Good Morning America this morning (Wednesday Jan. 4), and then on ABC's Nightline. UPDATE: Their Nightline appearance has been postponed to Friday Jan. 6 (11:35 p.m. Eastern time). UPDATE AGAIN: Nope, it didn't air then either; apparently it's been delayed again.

They're certainly making the rounds; see for instance my article on their Anderson Cooper appearance on CNN a couple months ago. They also appeared on CBS's Inside Edition December 12th (it slipped by me at the time): Two men, one woman say polyamorous relationship works for them. Next up, says Jaiya, is Telemundo.

UPDATE: Watch their Good Morning America appearance (4 minutes). At the online woman's magazine Jezebel, Madeleine Davies is not impressed: Meet Jon, the Sad Polyamorist. At BlogHer, Jacqueline Allain also notices a less-than-ideal dynamic and wonders what would happen to the toddler if Jon, the kid's main caregiver, decided to leave: "I would hope that anyone in this kind of relationship is thinking long and hard about what is in the child's best interest." Later Allain apologizes and clarifies after hearing from Jaiya about how the show mis-edited her.

Local ABC stations are airing clips from the Good Morning America show, with light commentary. For instance, in Philadelphia: Polyamory -- Could you do it?.


Thursday evening a new season of "Private Practice" begins on ABC, and here is ABC's summary of the episode:

Thursday January 5 [2012], Episode 5.10 "Are You My Mother?":

Cooper struggles with whether or not to punish Mason after he catches him stealing; Pete and Violet find it hard to split time with Lucas now that they're living apart; Addison makes changes in her home life to prepare for a potential new baby; Violet and Jake work with two women and a man involved in a polyamorous triad;....

LONG UPDATE: Just watched it. The poly subplot was respectful, emotional, sympathetic, and enlightening.

"Private Practice" is a medical drama following a group of docs and their lives and patients. In comes a nice, seemingly conventional lesbian couple, Kendra and Rose, to interview with the fertility specialist. They've been together six years and want a child — one women will be the egg donor, the other will bear the baby. Also along for the interview is the intended sperm donor, Evan. They indicate that he's just a friend helping out, although, when questioned, he says he does plan to sort of be around as "the fun uncle." When the counselor advises the women that they need to have him sign away all parental rights, they balk, and the truth comes out: they're not conventional at all.

"We're all in love," they reveal, holding hands.

"We know it sounds crazy—"

As they explain: "That first night was amazing. And, so was the next morning. And, every morning after that. Most mornings."

They intend to be three parents as truly as possible: sperm donor, egg donor, and pregnancy carrier. (I actually know a triad like that!!) The counselor challenges them about the difficulties that they and the kid will face from society at large. They know, and say they are prepared to face it.

The docs in the practice discuss it among themselves. "A what?" "A polyamorous triad." They debate. "...That's the same argument that said interracial and same-sex couples shouldn't have children." The docs come to agreement: they will do the egg fertilization and implant, as the three wish.

But — an ultrasound reveals a problem. "Unfortunately Rose's body is incapable of producing viable eggs or carrying a fetus." Kendra and Evan have tested out fine. They could have a baby in the usual manner. Rose is devastated, and threatened about being left behind in such a fundamental way. The three have already explained to the docs that they live by a rule: all decisions among them must be unanimous (Hah! say I, but never mind); "We have to avoid the two against one, so no one feels ganged up on." Kendra and Evan are ready to have a child for the three of them regardless of this bump in the road. Rose objects and lays down a veto: "We're not having a baby." And walks out.

She needs time to process this blow, says one of the docs to the others. "Hopefully their relationship will be strong enough to overcome it."

Later we see the fertility doctor in a heart-to-heart with Evan and Kendra. The doc explains that Rose fears "that the two of you might share a bond that she can never be a part of."

And later we see a doctor with Rose. Rose asks, "What if a baby changes everything?" Doc: "If the love is real, it can withstand anything." Rose: "Do you really believe that?" Doc: Well... no. "Sometimes life rises up and wins." Rose: "That's what I'm afraid of."

But, life can never make guarantees; sometimes you have to move on faith. As the show nears its end, we see the resolution. Rose has worked out her decision. "You two can make our baby," she tells Evan and Kendra. Relief. "And we will all be together."

Just, wow.

The 43-minute episode (with several unrelated plots interwoven) is up for viewing on the show's website. It will also be on Hulu until early February.

Title "Are You My Mother?", air date 1/5/2012.

You can leave a comment on the episode's page. There are no comments yet (Friday morning), and there should be.


Next Tuesday, January 10th, the National Geographic Channel finally airs the segment about a California polyfamily that it filmed last June for its "Taboo" series. The segment seems to be the last of three in a 1-hour episode:

9:00 PM Eastern Time — Taboo: "Odd Couples"

For most the ideal spouse tends to be similar in age, social status, and physical appearance. But some marriages stray so far from this ideal, they might be considered "odd." Taboo examines some of these unconventional relationships. We'll meet a woman who's in love with a man nearly three times her height. Then, find out why a man hides his homosexuality, promising to love and obey his wife. And we'll delve inside the inner workings of a marriage made up of three partners.

Watch NatGeo's 3-minute clip from the show with the polyfamily in question.

Writes Dawn, one of the people around the dinner table there:

"I'm hoping that whatever the Taboo folks do with the adults' footage is at least tolerable... and that they have enough ethics not to screw with the kids — who gave some amazing interviews.

So far, I have to say that I'm pretty annoyed that the voiceover sounds like they're going for tabloid titillation. That is of course not what they told us (or at least led us to believe) they'd be doing. Frankly, I'd not have participated at all if Dany hadn't told me that she had taken a look at their other episodes and found them to be pretty good, actually. As with so many others, I was suspicious of any show called "Taboo".... Hopefully the titillation factor will be reduced in the somewhat longer segment, as opposed to the promo, which is *designed* to draw attention by highlighting controversy.

The film crew followed the family around for three solid days, and they were miked much of the time. Dany said that she would sometimes forget that, and of course, when she did, she'd let her guard down. I'm sure that was intentional on their part. [Note to future subjects: you don't have to agree to this. If you do, you can take off the mike for any moment you don't want to be recorded.] The part I participated in was one afternoon, essentially, and I was only miked while actually being filmed. The same was true for the kids and other friends present.

My intent in being present was both to support my dear friends and "tribe members" (our respective kids have been friends since they were 2 and 3 years old) and also to attempt to show poly as a pretty normal life, and to educate others about the existence of polyamory as an option. I hope that the team putting the show together were able to present some of that while also delivering their entertainment factor, without stooping to cheap shots.... *Crossing fingers*....

Dany, the central woman in the episode, writes:

It was a long and complicated negotiation as to whether or not to participate. We knew it was risky and worried about repercussions both personally for our community. We received a lot of assurances from NatGeo that they would be respectful. We watched back episodes of the show and they mostly seemed to take the 'look these people are different and might that might frighten you, but they are okay' approach. It was a family decision to go forward with it. Our teen-age son was particular interested in helping outsiders understand how wonderful he considers his family.

The film crew was great even if they pushed too far sometimes. This opening [of the 3-minute clip, showing one of the three winking to another to go upstairs for sex] makes me cringe, because it's the kind of sleazy approach I hate and doesn't represent us. I am still hoping the rest of the piece makes up for it.


ALSO: Warning for would-be poly documentary subjects. A crew from Firecracker Films is fishing the poly internets for subjects, using the email name "polylovecasting." This is the outfit that made "I Love You. and You. and You" for Britain's creepy freak-show program Tainted Love in 2006. It was a snark job and not what the participants/victims had thought. See my two posts about it at the time: first, second. And read the comments, especially from people who participated. A member of one family they filmed wrote,

When I researched Firecracker Films before we agreed to be filmed, I found out about the "Tainted Love" series Channel 4 was commissioning (then called "the dark side of modern love") and specifically asked them if this documentary was part of that series.

They said no. Obviously, they lied.

This family was filmed for several days but was not shown in the final cut — perhaps because, they suspect, they came across as too normal.

If anyone is tempted to subject themselves to this outfit regardless, at least contact the Polyamory Media Association and/or Robyn Trask at Loving More and get advice on how to try to control the situation, including drawing up a binding contract with the filmmakers about how you do and don't agree to be used — including your right to review and veto the final cut of this and any future uses of all filming done of you, your property, etc. There are standard contracts for this; find one. And, be ready to refuse any sudden request the filmmakers push you to do, and be willing to walk away from the whole thing.




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