Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

August 19, 2012

Best yet: the Coming Out episode on Showtime's Polyamory

Last Thursday's episode of Showtime's Polyamory: Married and Dating (Episode 6, "Radical Honesty," the next to last) shows our triad and quad families making dreaded visits to the parents of three of their members to come out as poly. It's the best, most serious, most moving episode yet.

The show's director-producer, Natalia Garcia, thinks so too. She told us, "It's extremely emotional, the families are at their rawest. I am so proud of them and I cry every time I see that episode."

Natalia Garcia (front center) with the San Diego quad.

For the moment, non-Showtime subscribers willing to watch pirated content may be able to see Episode 6 (and several others) by googling for "Polyamory: Married & Dating".


At the outset, we see Lindsey and Anthony of the triad driving north and discussing how tough it will be for the three of them to announce their poly "wedding" engagement to Anthony's mom and dad and to Lindsey's mother. "I just wish it was over."

But Anthony's mother has known their third, Vanessa, since she was a child, and has known how close the three of them have long been. As they all sit in the living room, Vanessa nervously, hesitantly takes the lead. "I have a toast to make. We just had our three-year anniversary. I asked Linds and Anth to make a life commitment. To me. To have a ceremony of some kind. So, we’re calling ourselves engaged."

And it turns out the parents are thrilled. Mom: "I’m all over this! I love weddings and celebrations!" Dad: "I’ve always felt that your commitment is sincere, serious, more perhaps than most people that I know." He is more skeptical of their plans to get matching ring-finger tattoos than anything else. He begins a dad-lecture on the permanence of tattoos if a relationship doesn't work out, and Vanessa steps in. "We could make decisions that look like a breakup, but one of the interesting things about the way poly works is that we could stay in each others lives. We’re not going to leave each other even if the relationship transitions. That’s the commitment that we’re making." Dad is wowed over.

Next up: the visit to Lindsey's mom, who turns out to be even more delighted. "I'm proud of you! It's not exactly a surprise, though." Ever since Lindsey was 18 she's known how close she and Vanessa were. "I'm gaining a daughter!" My wife Sparkle Moose, who's watching the TV with me: "Oh, it's so hard to shock boomer parents." (We are boomer parents.)

Things go harder with Tahl's parents. Tahl's wife Jen has flatly declared she thinks this is a bad move, that his mom and dad might not want to know:

Jen is especially worried that his parents— — Shlomo and Pnina, conservative, observant Jews —— might break off from her as their daughter-in-law. Nevertheless the four decide to explain their situation at Friday evening Shabbat dinner. "All my life this is when we all get together and talk about family issues," Tahl explains. "So Friday night it is."

As the four are driving over, Tahl gets a text from his father. Tahl's uncle's son in Israel has seen Tahl naked on a "swinger website." The news is all over the family. We see Tahl in another of his "Oh, fuck" moments. This will not make it easier.

After Shabbat ritual and too long a spell of strained small talk, Tahl finally mans up: "So, we talk about the elephant in the room?" He explains that after meeting Kamala and Michael three years ago they fell in love with them, and are having a relationship with them, and have moved in together.

More stunned silence. Mom to Tahl and Jen: "How can your relationship be strong when you're not a proper couple?" But she is forgiving. "Do I think it's a good thing? No. It goes against everything that I've been brought up. But the way we live and the way I live isn't necessarily what suits you. You're my child and you know that I adore you. But you're an adult, and you must do whatever is best for you… You are my oldest son. What can I tell you. We're here for you."

Dad is quieter.

Update: Kamala told me much later that we see this dinner live as it actually happened; Tahl's parents did not know what the dinner was about and only knew that a camera crew was coming along with them because the crew was making a film about the two couples' friendship. And, she said, the reason why this is the one episode with no sex or nudity is because producer Natalia Garcia wanted Tahl's parents to be able to watch it.


Near the beginning of the episode, we see the quad on the beach helping 5-year-old Devin fly a kite. On Friday Kamala posted, "My inbox is swamped with fear related to my son's involvement in the 'coming out' episode of Polyamory. Here is my official response." More seriously, here's her essay earlier this month, Poly Parenting Philosophy: How I'm Raising My Son.


The series has social networks and blogs abuzz, though I still haven't seen any real major-media treatments of it. A couple's-therapy team has put up this thoughtful message for people who are inspired by the show to rush into poly themselves:

With the recent debut of Showtime’s new docu-series... we’ve been getting a lot of questions about the nature of polyamory....

Our fear is that a lot of people will see the TV show — and much like the country’s reaction to the book 50 Shades of Grey — will immediately dive into “trying out” poly in their own relationships. Keep in mind that bringing new people into your currently monogamous relationship IS NOT the same as reading 50 Shades and deciding to try a few kinky games with your partner. Polyamory is not something people can try, like taking golf lessons. Poly partners are people, not golf clubs you can sell at a garage sale if you figure out you’re no good at it. Our advice for couples who watch the TV show and find themselves intrigued by the concept of consensual non-monogamy is to NOT try this at home — not until you’ve done a lot of reading and a lot of talking....

They go on to lay out some wise questions to ask and think about. Read the whole article. This deserves to be spread.

From a long article on the website of Colorado's 303 Magazine ("Fashion. Culture. Style."):

Even though polyamory may have become a household word since the recent premiere of Showtime’s reality series Polyamory: Married & Dating, my spell check continues to reject the word. So in case you’ve been living under a rock the past few years, perhaps I should define it.... I think we all have much to learn from the concept of polyamory.

...Dr. Anapol told me that she believes polyamory is about allowing the truth of the relationship to define the form it takes, rather than some traditional and unexamined idea of what a committed relationship should look like. “If people are consciously choosing monogamy they will be much more satisfied than if they are doing it just because their parents or our society has deemed monogamy the only way to live”....

Justin Clark writes at the movie site Chud.com:

Generally, I have slightly more regard for the 6 month old burrito inexorably stuck to the bottom of my apartment's garbage dumpster than I do for reality TV, but found out just yesterday they decided to go make one about my own particular alternative lifestyle of choice....

Show got off to kind of a rocky start, with the VAST amounts of group sex scenes and the triad couple already getting into some drama regarding someone dating outside the group, both the stereotypical image people get when they think about these relationships, but the ship has righted itself. ACTUAL relationship issues have reared themselves, and all of them have been handled with love, understanding, and a ton of straightforward communication; there's a ton of sweet moments between the couples, and their family members....

The last episode had three members of the cast coming out to their parents, and it's immensely touching and satisfying to see how it all plays out. My mother still doesn't know, and that might not be likely to change... but to see that it really is not just terribly similar to coming out as gay, but that there was love and support from the parents no matter what, was quite heartening.

So, yeah. Show's good, deserves some attention, here and elsewhere, and it's probably done more to show polyamory in a positive, respectful light than any other piece of mainstream media so far.

A poly mom's observations on Episode 6 compared to her own coming out:

...After some research on the net, [I discover that] Jen actually works with Tahl's parents. Yea that is going to be fun going into the office the next day....

Kamala, I know you have a really good heart but you came off mean when not reckoning Jen's concerns. I will blame it on the editing (or maybe not).

...On a personal note: Coming out is not easy. I have family members and dear friends who know about my life and it makes it awkward to be around them because they dont understand. I have been called a disgrace, a slut, a whore, a sex addict, and I have even had an intervention done. Anne Rice in Exit to Eden said - "You only hurt the ones you love when you tell them something which may they won't or can't understand." ...While I am very envious of the Triad's [parents'] reaction - the reaction of Tahl's parents was more real.

She also writes I would like to apologize to the cast of Polyamory: Married and Dating for harshness in an earlier post.

A non-poly blogger's observations:

For the summer, Showtime has come up with a new way to reel me in.... In last night’s episode, Lindsey and Tahl decided to “come out” to their parents. Tahl is from a Jewish/Zimbabwean home and was petrified about having the conversation with his ultra conservative parents, while Lindsey was not sure what to expect from her mum. Whether it was for TV or not and I would like to hope that it was not, I was extremely touched by each parents’ level of acceptance of their children...

The most comprehensive reviews of the series — with a detailed plot synopsis of each episode, thoughtful commentary, and links to other reviews — continue to be the ones being posted by Jessica Karels at Modern Poly: Episode 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Jessica also notes,

Go to the show's Facebook page and Like them... you'll get to see some of the interesting conversations between the show's viewers and the cast. There have been a couple of conversations where viewer perceptions of what's going on differ from the messages that were intended with the show. I also recommend investigating GetGlue, a social media tool for sharing what books, music, and TV shows you're interested in.

There's already a page for Polyamory: Married & Dating, with a fairly active discussion.

UPDATE: Here's a nice interview with Jessica herself. Pass it on for people new to the idea of poly.)


The final Episode 7 airs this Thursday, August 23. It looks like the triad, which started the series on the shakiest ground of the two families, is going to have a fairy-tale happy ending, while the quad, which started the season at the top of their game with two longtime poly experts among the four, is now Officially In Trouble:

Will Jen finally walk? Should she?


If you are in driving distance of San Diego, you can discuss the situation, and the ultimate outcome after the series was filmed, with the quad itself! Kamala and friends have rented the Victory Theater this Sunday evening, August 26, for a season finale viewing party of Episodes 5, 6 and 7, followed by a discussion session with director-producer Natalia Garcia and the members of the quad.


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Blogger Mama Buffy said...

Great Post! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

August 19, 2012 3:34 PM  

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