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

August 16, 2013

Season opener of Showtime's "Polyamory: Married & Dating":
What happened.

The first new episode of Showtime's Polyamory reality series, which aired last night, had a lot of catching up to do from last season, and new groundwork to lay.

We meet a new family, seen in the video clip above. Chris is a beefy, chiseled mixed-martial-arts fight champion with, apparently, a kind and thoughtful heart. He now owns and runs the gym Legends, where he coaches up-and-coming MMA fighters. His wife Leigh Ann owns and runs a pole-dancing school, "making a better world one sexy woman at a time," she jokes. Their younger mutual girlfriend Megan owns and runs a business of her own, a fashion line. Three busy entrepreneurs, who for three years have lived and loved together — in Hollywood, in a gorgeous California home with a pool. Yeah, this is Showtime. They tell of their happy life and intertwined relationship, and explain how they discuss and negotiate through unexplored territory. "When you find out that this is what love is for you," says Chris, "you're kind of flying by the seat of your pants."

And we see that they're gorgeous with their clothes off. They narrate, over an extended threesome sex scene, how they enable the group lovemaking among them to work right for everyone. They are blissful and delighted with one another and know each other very well... it appears.

So then, where's the story? We know turmoil and drama must be coming. Indeed, we are set up with what to look for: Leigh Ann cooks while the other two walk the dog, and she frets how she seems to be getting left alone a lot these days. Megan frets about how much Leigh Ann has to travel for her business and leave her alone. Are they really all going to be the good relationship managers they appear to be?

Down the freeway in San Diego, the poly pod of Kamala, Michael, Jen, and Tahl have been living together for a year since we witnessed their move-in and tribulations last season. They seem stronger and happier together now, and if complex networked intimacy is their thing, they've got heaps of it. Tahl has happily come out as bisexual and seems to be loving it as he dates around. Jen, the most tentative, most giving-in of the four last year, seems to have gained new confidence and strength. She has a new boyfriend, Jesse, a kid really, who's 10 years her junior. And he's mono. Oops.

In real life, the pod and (I gather) their extended San Diego network follow a practice that each person be fluid-bonded — not using a condom or other fluid barrier — with no more than one other person, usually a spouse. The pod has regular Monday family meetings that they look forward to, and we see them sitting together holding hands and going over various matters. Jen says she has decided to fluid-bond with Jesse, and husband Tahl will be the one to use a condom with her. The others ask Tahl, with concern, how he feels about this change. He says he's actually sort of delighted and finds the idea of Jesse ejaculating unprotected to be pretty exciting. But he is having a different problem: the amount of time that Jen is spending away from him with Jesse these days. And also, the rules that mono-oriented Jesse puts on her, like no kissing any other man but Tahl on the lips; these seem potentially creepy. And there's Jesse's unwillingness to come to parties and be part of the extended community. Tahl says that he and Jen need to schedule a further talk about his own needs here.

Jen is not happy about this turn of events. And at their talk, which goes rather stressfully in a restaurant, Tahl asks that all three of them meet over lunch so that he and Jesse can get to know each other and work out their understandings and needs. Oh, and by the way, he wants more alone time scheduled for himself to date a new guy.

We see Jen and Jesse making love, real love — this is not a porn scene — and at greater length than the lovemaking scenes we saw last season. Young Jesse is truly head over heels for her. He is overjoyed not to be using a condom now; this new bonding means the world to him. To him, condoms and safer sex feel like relationship diminishment. Uh oh.

He is scared about getting more involved with the poly tribe, Tahl in particular. He is sweet and open and... has mono attitudes written all over his very body language. It surprised me how sensitive to seeing this I've become.

It's too bad that Showtime turned down the director's request for hour-long shows this season. Considering the depth, complexity, and unusualness of what we're seeing, the pacing is very fast and it ends awfully soon.


See the long, bedazzled review of Season 2 at Gawker.com.

Here's Mindchaotica's review and recap of this first episode.

Next week's episode is titled "Triggers." Description: "Chris tries to mend his relationship. Jen is caught between Tahl and Jesse." A pic:

Incidentally, amid the deepening drama, in Episode 2 we'll see what came of my signing a release letting Showtime display this website on the air. Apparently one of the families had Polyamory in the News open while cameras were rolling. Maybe I'll be famous.


Here's the upcoming schedule. Note that each episode of the seven-week season will air several times on subsequent nights each week (on the left at the link, click On TV > All Airings).

Episodes can also be watched on demand after the first time they air (click On Demand), and on a computer or device if you're a Showtime subscriber via Showtime Anytime.

For official news and publicity see Showtime’s site for the series.

Here are all trailers and video clips for Season 2 so far.

Here are all the video clips for Season 1. If you didn't see it, they give a good idea of what it was about.

To keep up with doings of the San Diego family, see their Facebook Fanpage.

Here's my own stuff about Season 1, with plots, spoilers, commentary, and notices in other media.

And here's my stuff about Season 2.


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Blogger Natja's Natterings said...

Thank you for the thorough review Alan. I won't watch this series, their decision to include yet another limited demographic, plus the whole Golden Unicorn thing (triads making up SUCH a small proportion of Polyamorous people) has completely lost my interest and more extended sex scenes? Blurgh.....

August 16, 2013 3:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm one of those people dealing with Time Warner Cable (I'm sure you know they dropped Showtime), so I can't watch the show at all.

So thank you for letting me know what I missed. At least I can keep up through your posts, until Showtime finally gives us this series on DVD.

August 16, 2013 3:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anonymous with TWC: that's what BitTorrent is for.

August 16, 2013 11:49 AM  
Anonymous natalia said...

I have to say, I'm amazed at how superficial the poly community is, yet they're accusing ME of being superficial. Ironic and hilarious. Instead of focusing on the real issues these families are dealing with and relating, knowing they're not alone, they are discriminating simply by the way they look?? WOW. They are doing exactly what they're accusing me of! Amazing. Thanks Alan, make sure to watch next week for!

August 16, 2013 1:33 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

@natalia The "poly community" is accusing you of ... what, exactly? I didn't know we had any kind of group consensus on most anything, let alone getting together to accuse you (who are you, again?) of something.

Damn, this is what I get for not going to the meetings, isn't it?

August 16, 2013 2:05 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

FYI, the natalia making the comment above is the director and producer of *Polyamory: Married & Dating.*

August 16, 2013 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Lucius Scribbens said...

I am not surprised by the amount of “there isn't enough diversity in these poly families” that is thrown around with this show. There seems to be quite a bit of “Their family doesn't look like my family therefore they aren't really a poly family” and “Their poly is different than my poly therefore they're not really poly”.

So what.

It wasn't too long ago that the media was showing nothing but poly people on the most outward fringe of society and we were being laughed at by general society because their preconceptions of polyamorous people were proved right.

If a little poly-normativity is needed to advance the world's knowledge and acceptance of our relationships, than so be it. There will be plenty of time to introduce your particular family sctructure or type of polyamory as we are more accepted by our neighbors and coworkers. Sure last season was all about cisgendered, white, upper middle class people with one-penis policies. This season Tahl is out as bisexual? Fuck yeah! It's a step. Jen has boyfriend? Fuck yeah! No more one penis policy!

Sure they are still cisgendered, white, upper-middle class folk, but we now have a man having sex with another man and a woman who is having sex with two men. Two of general societies biggest, most threatening fears out there in the open: Man lying with man and a woman having sex with more than just one man. Most people are okay with Chris, Leigh Ann and Megan's relationship. One man and two women are safe, it's normal,Hell, it's virtually downright Christian.

So if last season was all about normativity, this season seems to be stretching it a bit. Makes sense to me: Introduce the least threatening alternative relationship to the masses, get them comfortable with it, then ease them out of their comfort zone again. Hopefully at the end some will say “Yup, it may not be for me, but I can see how that works.” and all will be good for people like you and I at work tomorrow.

So give them a break. It may not look like your family or your brand of polyamory, but they are great spokespeople to get the general population on board with us, which makes it safer for poly people to take all their sweeties and their kids to company picnics without fear of losing their job or upsetting one partner because you need to play it safe and can't take them with you and your other partner.

August 16, 2013 3:50 PM  
Anonymous natalia said...

@lucius very well said - and EXACTLY. Thank you...

August 16, 2013 5:57 PM  
Blogger tosii2 said...

@natalia and @lucius; much of today's communication takes place using 'sound bites'; the show is one example, most peoples' comments are others. (I won't mention twitter). @lucius well demonstrated that it generally takes a bit of detail, etc to go much beyond the sound bite 'mode'. Let's cut some slack for everyone trying to get their message out, even if it appears to be superficial, at least it is there.

August 16, 2013 6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Natalia, I hope you're not holding out for universal popularity and acceptance for your show among poly folk. I'm a little suprised you would comment on here at all, much less after one negative comment on this thread.

Do work you're proud of and let it speak for itself.

- ES

August 16, 2013 9:25 PM  
Anonymous Natalia said...

You're right. I'm extremely proud. Thanks for the reminder.(PS: I love Alan's blog, couldn't help myself!)

August 17, 2013 12:04 AM  
Blogger Natja's Natterings said...

I'm pretty certain the beautiful people of SOCAL are not crying a river over what I have to say....and yes, it is wonderful for a programme to explore male bisexuality, but....I did not refer to the open quad, which I had no trouble with, but the fact that Natalia replaced one cookie cutter Unicorn triad, with another....(and please do not insult my intelligence by adding that this triad is different because a bit of colour was added this time). Truth be told, Natalia was run out of Poly Percs, Polyamory.com and Reddit because many in the online polyamory (not all obviously) loathe the programme and don't watch it. I know I am not the only open Poly person who hopes no relative of mine watches it because I seriously do not want my family to think that is what I do.
That is simply my opinion and I think Natalia should get used to some negative criticism, it is TV after all.

August 17, 2013 2:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Natalia, some find your show superficial because it specifically requires "camera friendly" people who will allow cameras into the bedroom.

Not to say there aren't some positive aspects of the show. But as long as a requirement of being featured on the show is to look "hollywood pretty" and to be okay with others watching you have sex, people are going to find the show superficial. And some poly people will be frustrated that our ability to tell our stories are limitted by these superficial restrictions. That's just how it is.

August 17, 2013 5:14 AM  
Anonymous JTK_Forever said...

Personally, I think this show should be called "Openly Married and Swinging" as I don't see any real deep love or commitments, which is the basis of true 'poly' relationships. This series unfortunately focuses more on sex (which of course sells and thus makes TV shows work), and leaves out other (more basic) aspects of love and relationships.

And, this is more than just an outside observation...I'm in a (closed) poly-fi triad myself (FOUR years and still amazing!) and we're like any other 'couple' except there's 3hree of us..!! Sex, while spectacular, is not the center of our relationship. We are all amazing together, yet nothing like the characters in this show!

August 19, 2013 3:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm Mono and my partner is Poly. I find that the show doesn't do anything to help the attitude that, if I mention the word "Poly" to people, then gee, we ALL have to be sharing one bed together, and oh, I never knew that about you.


I'm mono and straight. A divorced mom of two. Nothing too photogenic there. It's about as boring a relationship as you can get, except he spends half his time with his OSO. Yet if I use the word "Poly", I need to do all sorts of explaining to define what we are NOT.

I don't even use the word anymore. I stick with "open" or "non-exclusive", which works MUCH better.

Yes, I believe that all sorts of Poly folks represent the "community", but I also believe that SoCal TV families are about as representative of the rest of the country as the Kardashians. I don't need MY family and friends basing their opinion of MY relationship on this show. No thanks.

August 19, 2013 8:59 AM  
Blogger Exotic Fever Records said...

I watched the whole first season on Bit Torrent and I can't find the second season ANYWHERE! I've looked everywhere. I don't have access to showtime, and would buy on itunes or netflix if i could. Any thoguhts?

October 20, 2013 10:36 AM  

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