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

July 20, 2012

Deborah Anapol, others assess Showtime's Polyamory: Married and Dating

Psychology Today blogs

Deborah Anapol can claim credit for co-founding the modern polyamory movement in the 1980s and 1990s before the word existed (along with Ryam Nearing; see my history of Loving More). Her 1992 book Love Without Limits, expanded in 1997 as Polyamory: the New Love Without Limits, was often called the movement's bible. For a while it was practically the movement's only book. So she comes with a long perspective on this thing. In recent years she has written thoughtfully on ways that it has and has not lived up to early hopes and dreams, such as in her 2010 book Polyamory in the 21st Century.

Now that TV's first reality show about polyfamilies is on the air (see my previous post), Anapol offers her judgments of it on her blog at Psychology Today magazine. Bits:

...In the 80’s, 90’s and into the early 2000’s, I appeared on a lot of television talk shows and a few documentaries, mostly as an expert on polyamory, but I don’t have any experience at all with reality TV... apart from watching a few episodes of the most popular shows and talking with a half dozen producers over the years who thought that a reality TV series on polyamory would be a big hit.

None of those conversations ever led to a show getting on the air so far as I know, although a few pilots were shot and at least one contract signed. So it’s quite a breakthrough to see Polyamory: Married and Dating airing on Showtime after all these years.... I need to make it very clear that I am not involved in any way with [the] show, but I do know the San Diego cast and their community quite well....

I’ll say that Polyamory: Married and Dating is a far better portrayal of polyamory than I feared and not so good as I had hoped, judging from the first episode, which aired July 12.

...The preview for episode #2 has Kamala Devi refusing to share her new girlfriend, Roxie, with her husband Michael, again defying viewers’ preconceived notions about the likely challenges of polyamory. My insider information leads me to suspect that the Roxie drama is at least somewhat contrived, but the demands for special treatment are classic, and at the very least we see “asking for what you want” role-modeled perfectly. At any rate Michael and Kamala are both good enough actors to make it look real, but more about that later....

...In my opinion, Polyamory: Married and Dating succeeds brilliantly at introducing seven main characters in less than thirty minutes. That they manage to present a true-to-life portrait of polyamory as it’s commonly practiced along with some glimpses of hot group sex is a minor miracle. But then, this is the bonobo tribe. And it’s certainly more enjoyable than parading a poly family or two out to be interviewed by a talk show host and then letting a hostile audience have at them as was the style back in the day....

...I suspect that we’ll have to wait at least another decade to see polyamory as I’d like to see it portrayed on television, but [this] is a really great start.

Read the whole article (July 19, 2012).


Meanwhile, I'm still away in the woods at the Network for a New Culture's Summer Camp East amid rain, daily ZEGG Forum sessions, personal-exploration workshops and impossibly full schedules with 70 of my beloved community (at least half of them poly, something that develops so naturally in a group like this). We're sharing life, relationship, and communal-living histories, skills, and insights in a geodesic dome deep in the forest — a 10-day experiment in exploring curiosity- and transparency-based community.

With no TV and text-only internet.

So if you saw Episode 2, could you post about it here in the comments?

It's raining again now — gotta check my tent.

Added July 21: Poly activist Jessica Karels at Modern Poly posts an in-depth review, with observations for the movement and links to other reviews: Polyamory: Married and Dating, Episode 1 Review.

Added July 24: Commentary on Episode 2 by Maria Padhila at Planet Waves.


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Anonymous Jessica K said...

Thanks to the shout out. I'm already working on my review of episode 2. In addition to the synopsis/observations of the episode itself, I'm also going to elaborate on the social media response to the series (blogs + Twitter postings)

A peek at some of the blog posts that have come up in response to this series:

Things I've learned from Showtime's Polyamorous: Married and Dating - http://www.grantland.com/blog/hollywood-prospectus/post/_/id/53478/things-i-learned-from-showtimes-polyamory-married-and-dating

Does Polyamory: Married and Dating Feed Stereotypes (response to above blog) - http://authorjanedoe.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/does-polyamory-married-dating-feed-sterotypes/

July 22, 2012 1:21 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

July 22, 2012 5:48 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Review o Episode 2 isdone http://www.modernpoly.com/article/polyamory-married-and-dating-episode-2-review

July 25, 2012 9:35 AM  
Blogger Murray said...

So what I'm noticing watching the show, as common threads in the two families, is (a) the lack of compersion, and (b) a the conflict between we-poly and me-poly. I feel it's important to bring these themes out, in addition to those already mentioned (everyone's white, pretty and young, why aren't the guys bi, boy they have lots of bonobo sex, etc.)

Compersion can simply be defined as happiness at your partner being happy (including their being happy with another partner, in a romantic/sexual way). Now these are experienced poly people, and I'm sure they are quite familiar with the concept. But think how differently the following two statements would land:

1) "Lindsey, it's really great that you've found this great guy, we're so happy for you! He seems really, great, and we'd like to meet him! We are a little hurt that you didn't keep us in the loop about it getting serious, though ..."

2) "Lindsey, you broke the rule about letting us know if you're developing feelings for someone ... so you've got to take a break"

Framing makes a big difference here, doesn't it?


1) "Kamala, Roxanne is so hot and sweet, you are so lucky to have her in your life! Speaking of which, I was hoping to get lucky too ..."

2) "Kamala, it's not fair that I don't get to date Roxanne ..."

Compersion frames the discussion that your partners are on your side, not your adversaries.

Of course this is all true by implication in a poly relationship. But one of my life lessons (which I keep having to learn) is that "it goes without saying" doesn't really cut it, and it's always better to state such things explicitly - especially positive things.

Of course, if you're creating a reality show, and you want more drama, which version would you prefer?

- - - - - - - - - - - -

In this show, both families seem to be set up as poly units. That is, Kamala and Michael are presented as dating as a couple (we-poly), as opposed to dating as individuals (me-poly). So when we see Kamala dating (Roxanne) as an individual, it is made to seem "wrong". But isn't me-poly just as valid a way to do it as we-poly? Besides, what is Michael really asking for? Do we suppose that Roxanne can't be invited to the family barbecue? That they can't all go to a Padres game together? I suspect that's all OK. The only thing Michael can't do is be sexual with Roxanne. Is that really a realistic expectation, to be able to sleep with all of your lover's lovers? As someone whose style can be described as me-poly, I certainly don't have that expectation. Hey, there are plenty of people in this world that I don't get to have sex with. And that's OK. I do fine.

Similarly, Lindsey, in a period of isolation from the triad, has developed a separate relationship. Is that "wrong"? It's certainly unanticipated, and perhaps not well communicated, but it exists, and it is worthy of respect for what it is. Adapting to change is called for here. Krystoff has rights and feelings too. He's not a homewrecker.

Mim Chapman's book, "What Does Polyamory Look Like" expands on these differences. There's no one way to do poly, but the show seems to be saying that there is, probably because there are only two data points.

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Looking forward to next week with the bonobos!

July 25, 2012 11:26 PM  

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