Showtime's Polyamory, episode 4 recap: "Truth and Consequences"
Tomorrow (Thursday September 12) Showtime begins airing Episode 5 of Polyamory: Married & Dating. Here's a recap of Episode 4, "Truth & Consequences."
We begin in the one-third-empty Hollywood household, with Chris and Megan waking up alone in bed now that Chris has — temporarily? — told their cheating wife Leigh Ann, either you move out or I move out. She left.
Chris narrating in the background: "Megan and I found out that Leigh Ann has been lying to us. She's been carrying on an affair with another man who we don't know, and telling us she's been on business trips. In a moment of anger and hurt I told her that she had to leave the house."
Megan: "I thought I could trust her with my heart. I'm questioning who I've been spending spent the last three years of my life with.... I believe in loyalty and honesty and being truthful to people.... I'm fucking devastated, my heart's broken. I don't want to see her, I don't want to talk to her, I can't be in a relationship with her."
Meanwhile, things are a lot happier among the San Diego poly pod. Kamala, Michael, and his new love Rachel are meeting in a restaurant to discuss Kamala's wish for Rachel to become more a part of the family — and in particular Michael's eager wish to have a threesome to help this along. Kamala has now bought into this idea. They win Rachel over:
Back to Hollywood. Leigh Ann is staying at a friend's empty house. It's the first time in almost ten years that she's been on her own; "I don't even know how to shop for just one person," she comments. "I'm basically living out of a suitcase right now."
We learn that her other guy is also named Chris. "I like to call him Chicago Chris to differentiate between the two of them." With a breaking voice: "I left my life that I built with very very little, and that's hard. Chicago Chris has been there for me any time I need a sympathetic ear, and that's really really comforting. He always tells me 'Don't worry, it's going to all be okay.' And whether or not it's going to be okay, just hearing that feels better."
We see them skyping. Chicago Chris turns out to be a young kid, all moo-eyed for her. I dislike him right off. I don't like cheating-enablers any more than cheaters. But, he says, "I mean I guess I just didn't realize how coy you were being, in your real life as opposed to your talking to me. I didn't — now that I know that I was entirely hidden behind, I kind of get why they're so mad."
And the two of them are planning for him to come visit. Leigh Ann to the camera: "It's probably not a very good idea for him to come, but I'm lonely and I need comfort and love, the whole reason why I needed him in the first place. And now I need it even more that I did before."
Across town, old Chris is having a heart-to-heart with one of the fighters he's trained, former UFC light-heavyweight champion Rampage Jackson. "He's known Leigh Ann as long as I have, and he's one of the least judgmental people I've ever known." Jackson: "I'm your friend, I'm not picking sides here, but — that kind of lifestyle you live, the polyamorous style — the girl, she's not allowed too?"
Chris: "If she's said to me like, 'Could I try having another boyfriend?', I'd have loved to say no problem. And that's what's messed up. She didn't give me the chance.... Lying for a long period of time? I could forgive the sex. I don't know how to ever trust her again."
Jackson's advice: "There's nothing wrong with swallowing your pride and calling her to see if she's okay. She's your wife for God's sake."
Chris is persuaded. "Now I have to tell Megan. And I don't know how she's going to react."
Back in San Diego, Tahl is having a date with his new friend Tziporah. "And tonight we have the whole house to ourselves." They make love in Tahl and Jen's room on the big bed. He grins, "Condom comes off, new condom comes on, we're not paying attention to anything except for each other."
They're back in the kitchen having coffee, and home comes Jen, just back from a date with Jesse. To find her bed a wet mess. They have a rule about this. "I come home, I go to set my things down," Jen tells the camera, "and it's a fucking disaster. There are condoms on the floor, then I look at the bed and it's a disaster with wet I-don't-know-what — Tahl knows we have a rule about leaving the bed how you found it.... Fuckin' Tahl, it never stops."
She walks in on a blow job now in progress in the kitchen. "Did you see how you left the fucking room? Like used condoms on the floor? It's so, fucking, rude. After we've had this conversation ten times." To Tziporah: "Has he not told you?" (No.) To Tahl: "It's really not fair to her that I'm going to get pissed in front of her because you can't remember to clean up the room like any decent normal person would."
She realizes this is putting Tziporah in a bad spot and calms down. Tahl and Tziporah agree to be more diligent in changing the sheets and cleaning up. The two women hug. Jen: "Thank you, I love you Tziporah, I'm sorry for being such a turd." Laughter. Tahl tries to join in. Jen puts him off: "I'm not ready for you yet Tahl, I'm hugging your girlfriend."
Chris is breaking the news to Megan that he's going to see Leigh Ann. "It's the right thing to do."
Megan isn't ready to see her. Megan to camera: "I don't think Chris will ever leave Leigh Ann. I think he's too loyal, and I think he still loves her and wants to find a way to work that out. And if I can't be in a relationship with her, then it means that I have to go find my own path. And" — starting to cry — "if I'm at the end of the road there with them, then I will just have to accept that. And move on. And it's scary."
Michael and Kamala are driving to Rachel's. Kamala: "Michael, Rachel and I have all established that we want to explore our chemistry. The whole day is foreplay. Whether it's the talk about it, getting undressed, it's all part of the anticipation." They mingle, kissing, on Rachel's bed. Michael and Rachel are getting more wrapped up in each other and Kamala moves into observing. Narrating again: "When Michael was connecting with Rachel, I got really clear that this is — really real for Michael. They are awesome together physically, and I didn't know where I fit into that. It's hard for me to jump from zero to 60 with her, and I'm conflicted."
In the scene, Kamala remarks to Rachel: "You know, sexually, it's different for me to watch Michael with someone that he has such deep feelings with."
Rachel: "Are you okay?"
Kamala: "Yeah." And so on they go. Kamala, narrating: "Just because I'm polyamorous does not mean that I'm promiscuous. I have a lot of lovers, and I really love them. It's hard for me to open my legs if my heart's not safe and comfortable."
To the other two: "Maybe we could just slow down and hold for a moment? This is really new between us. And I just feel I need more time to connect between you and I. Before diving in."
Michael to the camera, sympathetically: "When Kamala says she's not connecting emotionally, I'm not surprised at all. She's a very deeply emotional woman." To her in the scene: "You okay, sweetie?" Kamala: "Yeah, I'm just a little bit embarrassed." She explains to the camera: "I'm the sex and relationship coach, I should be taking initiative and making this all work, and so it was kind of like humiliating. But, I'm not willing to just have recreational sex with her. Like swinging. I want it to be real between us."
Michael: "Shall we just cuddle? I'd love that."
Kamala to the camera: "Michael's big plan of having this hot three-way, to deepen the relationship, failed. So, if Rachel and I are going to have our own relationship, we're going to have to get to know each other."
The scene closes with the three just lying together spoon fashion and holding each other, relaxed. "(Sigh.) That's better."
Ominous music as Chris drives up at night to the house where Leigh Ann is staying. They kiss. As they sit in the backyard, he says, "I do want to apologize for just throwing you out of the house like that. But, I didn't know what else to do."
Leigh Ann: "I get that. The sin. I fucked up, I lied, and I really heart you. And I'm sorry. You know, I felt abandoned. And you weren't emotionally available for me. And so I went and got it somewhere else. The only thing I can say in my defense is I was starting to feel like she was your wife and not me."
Chris apologizes for not giving her the love and attention she needs. "I'm willing to take accountability for not working harder to protect our marriage."
Leigh Ann: "One of the other things that I feel like led to this, is that, when we brought Megan in, it got very closed. And I realized that I really wanted to open it up and bring in other men. And I felt like you weren't open to it."
Chris turns defensive at this. "I think that's a cop-out, Leigh Ann. Bringing Megan into the relationship allowed us not to deal with our issues. You were avoiding the problems at home because you didn't want to deal with them."
Leigh Ann: "Well that's what we're doing right now."
He sighs. The discussion continues, and it looks like they are ready to reconcile.
Then he adds, "I just have to be clear. The relationship you that you've started now is not acceptable to me. The first thing that I need to happen if we're going to come back together at all is, you need to end that relationship."
Leigh Ann: "Well, he's coming to visit me here." For a week. "You know, I want you and Megan to meet him. And then maybe everyone sitting face to face, like maybe we'll be able to work it out."
Chris: "Let me be really clear. I have absolutely no interest in meeting this guy. If I did meet him, all I would do is put him through a wall. This was an illicit affair. What kind of a fucking dirtbag does this anyway? He is not coming here for a week. Leigh Ann, if you want to save this marriage, when he gets here, you tell him, it's over. And you put him back on a plane, and send him back. Those are the only circumstances under which I am willing to sit down and really work things out with you. And I want to know from you that you're agreeing to this."
An ultimatum. A hypothetical threat of violence. Massive control. The interesting thing to me is that this is exactly any old-paradigm couple's infidelity fight, just with three people in the couple instead of two. I wonder how it will turn out? I'll keep doing these recaps. We're halfway through the season.
Dawn Davidson, longtime poly educator and activist, discusses the mixed effects she sees this series having on the poly community — and on polyfolks' attempts to explain themselves to friends and family — at her Love Outside the Box blog: Is Polyamory All About the Sex? (Or, Reality TV vs Reality):
...I remain somewhat skeptical of the show and its impact on real polyamorous people. Polyamory is big enough to command a TV show all of its own now, and that’s definitely progress. But the heavy sex emphasis contributes to some negative stereotypes with some very serious potential consequences indeed. It’s progress with a price, at the very least.... I’ll watch the show, and I won’t tell others not to watch it… but I WILL recommend that you keep firmly in mind the fact that “reality TV” is a whole lot more about “TV” than about “reality.”
Tara Shakti-Ma, a polyactivist who runs local meetups and the Expansive Loving Yahoo group, has a stronger reaction:
My honest takeaway is that I remain... completely horrified. I feel they are showing a nauseating amount of processing, a great deal of emotional immaturity and an absolute excess of sexual scenes. I feel this portrayal "cheapens" polyamory's image, and does us a terrible disservice. I know others feel "at least we're getting some press," but quite frankly I don't always think that "bad press is better than no press at all."
I honestly felt nothing but embarrassment. The idea that the best way to get to know a new metamour and — apparently — help your partner deepen their relationship with his paramour — is for all three to hop in bed and get sexual? Huh? What? How about just hanging out and getting to know each other that way?
To which Jessica Karels, creator of Modern Poly, responds,
I liken this to when 50 Shades of Gray became all hyped up — there was a lot of public curiosity and interest in kink/BDSM, and a lot of horror stories coming out as well. Various educators/leaders capitalized on this — with blog posts and educating others about various aspects of kink. Sex-positive stores leveraged the increased awareness as a way to get people to attend workshops, and I think local communities did the same (at least mine did). Various leaders and educators — both for-profit and not-for-profit — rolled up their sleeves and focused on educating the newly curious and interested.
I feel that the show's impact is that it created "work" for those who were looking to be teachers, mentors, and leaders.
Here are previews of tomorrow's Episode 5, "Boundaries." In which, says a promo, "Leigh Ann is faced with an ultimatum. Kamala breaks one of Michael's rules."
Heads up, San Diego people: The San Diego pod hosts another party this Friday the 13th, in Encinitas — with discussion groups, community-building exercises, music and dancing, performance art, snuggle party, and Zegg Forum: "Poly takes work. We make it fun. Come learn from San Diego's most experienced Poly players at this wild and wonderful 10-hour poly party in North County." $15 donation requested for costs.
Coming up in a month is their four-day Poly Palooza taking over a resort hotel in Desert Hot Springs.
Each episode airs on Thursdays at 11 p.m. ET/PT, then again several times during the week; see schedule (on the left there, click On TV > All Airings).
If you're a Showtime subscriber you can watch episodes on demand (click On Demand), or on a computer or device via Showtime Anytime, after they first air.
Showtime’s website for the series.
All trailers and video clips from Season 2 so far.
All video clips from Season 1.
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.
My stuff about Season 2 so far (including this post; scroll down). There will be 8 episodes this season.