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

October 26, 2012

The Showtime Polyamory series:
Taking Stock

There's no news to report —— yet —— on Showtime's possible renewal of Polyamory: Married and Dating for a second season. But director/producer Natalia Garcia, who is energetically seeking additional poly families and groups to interview, says "the search is going really well." Showtime's decision will depend in part on who she can present to them.

If you missed some or all of the series, it's available for only through November 6th from Showtime On Demand (on TV) or Showtime Anytime (on a computer, tablet or phone if you have a participating cable provider). In either case you have to subscribe to Showtime on cable for a few dollars a month; check how soon you can cancel. In Canada it's on demand from The Movie Network.

The series becomes unavailable in the U.S. after November 6th. It's not on DVD yet, but Showtime seems to issue all their programs on DVD eventually.

Click here for trailers of all episodes.

More than a month after the series ended, the show and its star quad received a nice writeup in a San Diego regional magazine:

The Three-Way of Love

San Diego's polyamory community goes national

By Brook Larios

Season after season of not-so-real housewives doing not-so-interesting things, and we’ve finally struck gold with a show that follows the lives of four real San Diegans living and loving each other in a not-so-typical way....

“The show was so good that people can’t really criticize it too much,” [quad member Michael] McClure says. “Watching [it], they can really see that there’s love and that we’re building families. We’re really committed, family people.”...

“I have nothing against monogamy,” McClure says. “I think it’s a great paradigm, and it’s beautiful when people are dedicated, committed couples. What I don’t like is the dishonesty I see in monogamous relationships, where people can’t say they’re attracted to that person walking by or their secretary at work.”...

Whether the series is picked up for a second season remains to be seen, but the first seven episodes provide enough fodder for a glorious discourse over what constitutes a healthy relationship.

“I think people should be able to choose if they want to marry either sex or multiple people, [Tahl] Gruer says. “If people have more options, there will be less misery. There’s a lot of misery around people being forced into little boxes.”...

Read the whole article (in Pacific Magazine San Diego, Sept. 27, 2012).


So... has polyamory's big debut into mainstream entertainment TV been a good thing?

Opinions on poly discussion lists have been strong and divided from the start.

Some, including me, think the series is a real advance. We got a clear, basically accurate, enthusiastic portrayal of what poly is all about from a passionately sympathetic director. The show humanized us, and it displayed its stars' good intentions and ideals and their conscious communication work. It demonstrated that this life is even possible. In exchange, I'm willing to accept the imperfections and drama among the people portrayed, and the R-rated nudity and group sex scenes in most of the episodes. I thought these brief scenes were handled thoughtfully and respectfully in ways that showed an important part of the relationships.

And, the show sure boosted Google hits to this site.

Other people think otherwise. They feel the show represented them poorly or not at all, and that the sex and nudity scenes will make it harder for them to come out to family and friends. Some express contempt for commercial TV and the whole entertainment industry, reality docu-dramas in particular, sometimes without having seen the show.

Shawnphilly, a thoughtful poly blogger in the atheist/skeptic movement, writes about the coming-out problem at polyskeptic.com:

Coming out poly in light of mainstream images

I’m out.... But I’m concerned how the show will affect coming out for the rest of us.

I have a hypotheses that when a fringe or minority idea, group, etc., comes into the mainstream, it almost always has serious misrepresentations attached to it. Anyone serious about understanding the minority worldviews, upon its being portrayed in the mainstream, needs to do some personal research to get to the reality beneath the sexed-up mainstream presentation.

The people in the Showtime series are not “bad” representations of polyamory; they seem at least mostly realistic and genuine. But what I think most people will take away from watching the series is that polyamory is a lot of sex with young, hot people all the time. And, I’m sure, for some people it is just that. At least, it is for a little while. I certainly had a lot more sex, with more people, in the beginning of my polyamorous life.

I’ve been around many polyamory meetups, a few parties, and have talked with poly people form various backgrounds over the last several years. The Showtime series, while somewhat good at presenting the open and honest form of communication between the people, is very focused on sex.... In my poly life nakedness and sex are not ubiquitous, and I think that’s probably true for most polyamorous people.

But I’m not here to analyze the saturation of nakedness in mainstream portrayal of polyamory, but rather the effect that such things have on other poly people, especially those who may be thinking about coming out to their family, friends, etc. My thought is that while such shows may give some context and grounding of what polyamory is to a larger audience, it also creates a stereotype with which we will be associated.

...So now when people I know see me, they will associate that overly-sexualized perpetual orgy with what I mean when I say I’m polyamorous.

According to some people Gina knows, she has like 15 husbands (and she has not introduced me to 14 of them!). My mom (hi mom) thinks, or at least thought, that I was just going to keep adding women to my life... and when I have 500 lovers, my wife will leave me knowing her turn won’t come around for a year and a half or some shit....


...What I think Showtime should have done was to include a family who are less sex-driven, and more about focusing on relationships. Or at least de-emphasized the sex. But then, of course, less people would watch it, right?

...Making it look like sex is the thing that polyamory is about will cause people to overlook the emotional work that needs to be done, not just for the sake of having more sex with more people, but for the sake of becoming a more mature and capable adult.... What Showtime’s series seems to leave out is the work it takes to get where those people are; it gives a glimpse of where we all could be, but not how to get there.

Read his whole article (Oct. 2, 2012).


But either way, it's out of our hands. We don't run the entertainment industry. What we can do is try to educate people in the industry who show interest, feed them good people and ideas, and work with them to shape things to the extent possible. Garcia has gained an online reputation as prickly and dismissive of criticism. Nevertheless, for this pioneer show we lucked out. God knows what Hollywood's next polyamory series will be like.




Blogger Donald Dunbar said...

My wife and I both thought the show was great, if at times comically sex-focused. (The sex itself was usually pretty hot:) The mechanics of communication, boundaries, and expectations were shown without judgment--a compelling argument for polyamory to anyone who watches the show, though it doesn't help much those who'll hear about it only ambiently through pop culture buzz.

A quick Google shows that the people on camera aren't fakes or fame-seekers or secret assholes, but open, genuine, politically involved humans. I'm not sure what more one could ask for out of a reality show; is there a fuller, more accurate treatment of any sexual minority in any "reality" television? Even a racial or religious minority?

October 26, 2012 6:31 PM  
Anonymous Natalia said...

Thanks for this Alan! As for feedback that I'm "prickly" and "dismissive" - well, guilty as charged. If you're against the show, there is nothing I can say or do to change your mind so there's no point in trying to engage in a convo about it, especially online (I learned this a couple of years with my initial outreach). Had I listened to all the haters, we wouldn't be where we are today with this show and bringing polyamory in the mainstream....And thank you Donald for being a fan!

October 26, 2012 7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

for the most part, i loved the trio from riverside. i thought they had pretty darn good communication skills. the only quibble i had with the riverside trio was when vanessa and cristof forced lindsay to put her bf on the backburner and ambushed lindsay and new boyfriend at the cafe. i felt that whole thing was handled poorly by all involved.

the quad from san diego were a hot mess, however. michael came across as a sex maniac, tal was sneaky and a liar, kamala came across as controlling and passive aggressive and jen just seemed really unhappy. i hope the situation has gotten better for jen. overall, i was not impressed with the quad at all.

October 26, 2012 11:51 PM  
Blogger Natja's Natterings said...

I have to agree with Anon. The triad were, for the most part quite functional except that whole mess with Krystof and the part when Lindsey was told "I think you should feel grateful for this pain" (or some such) that sort of thing was really beyond the pale, completely ridiculous and totally embarrassing.
The Quad were ghastly and I would be quite happy not to see them back.

October 27, 2012 6:40 AM  
Anonymous Robert919 said...

Here's the interesting part to me---other than online, I've heard very little about this show. Not in my local poly community or anywhere else. Why? Because I know hardly a soul that has Showtime! (Maybe Time Warner Cable in my area is just crazy pricy, I dunno.)

What would be interesting to see is if they ever try editing this show to a PG-13 level (i.e, take out some of the sex everyone is talking about), and put it on a basic cable network, like TruTV, TLC, Logo, or whatever!

Then we can have our Poly reality show to the mass audiences that Showtime doesn't quite have, and with less sex too.
Just fantasizing here, I guess.

October 28, 2012 10:26 AM  
Anonymous Joreth said...

My poly group has solved the "no one has cable / knows where to find poly movies" problem. Every other month, we have a Poly Movie Night, where we get together and watch something poly-themed. Most of the movies come from Netflix, and a couple movies come from more ... creative acquisitions. I highly recommend instituting something like this in every poly community!

For a good (long & growing) list of movies to watch, visit http://www.theinnbetween.net/polymovies.html

October 28, 2012 2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're a middle-age couple seriously considering opening up our relationship to include a third party (assuming we/wife can find the right guy), and so my wife was particularly interested in watching the show. We found it entertaining, but would hope if Showtime renews the show, they include a relationship between older people, with less emphasis on the sexual aspect. Having said this, we're realistic enough to know we are not in the demographic Showtime is trying to reach so there is little chance of that. The perils of growing older!

October 31, 2012 2:31 PM  

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