"Can Polyamorous Relationships Actually Look Normal On TV?" The season finale of *Shameless*
Is the start of a poly relationship becoming an end-of-season TV cliffhanger device? First House of Cards, now Shameless on Showtime.
Spoilers ahead. From Refinery29:
Can Polyamorous Relationships Actually Look "Normal" On TV?
By Molly Horan
V and Svetlana
There was a lot going on in last night's season finale of Shameless, everyone's favorite comedy... about a loving family that continuously ekes out just a little happiness for themselves before circumstances kick them in the face. And with all the (spoiler alert) expulsion, death threats, actual ordered hits, and drug addiction exposed last night, you might have missed a new, very unconventional relationship fading into near-normalcy. Kevin and V, longtime couple and parents to twin girls, are now in a polyamorous relationship with their star bartender, Svetlana. And while their relationship is definitely played for (desperately needed) comic relief throughout the bleak episode, the show seems to be setting it up to become just a normal set piece in this family drama.
Kev (Steve Howey) and V (Shanola Hampton) were introduced in the show's first season as the Gallaghers' kind, and incredibly sex-positive, neighbors.... Their very, very active sex life is often used as comic relief, but is also always shown as an extension of their loving relationship... the writers are never kink-shaming them. So it makes sense that what started out as a green-card marriage and evolved into a sex-based three-way, could further evolve into an everyday marriage — among three people.
V originally married Svetlana (Isidora Goreshter) so she wouldn't be deported, partially out of necessity (she's the best employee at the bar V and Kevin run), and partly out of guilt (Kev was the one who outed her to an undercover INS agent). Kev is jealous over the marriage, mostly because it's something he and V couldn't have (due to a previous marriage he never got legally nullified), but he gives V and Svetlana time to "bond," which ends up involving a lot of NSFW activities on a pool table. When V confesses she and Svetlana aren't platonic gal-pals, her husband (in spirit, if not by law) is upset. But it makes sense when he quickly jumps on board with an arrangement that allows him to date his wife and his wife's wife.
The first snapshot we get of the new threesome in the finale is both extremely sexual and very domestic. The three wake up in bed together, gradually peeling a collection of condoms and dildos from the sheets. The next Kev-V-Svetlana scene seems even more like a wholesome family cereal ad, with brief kisses exchanged and the newspaper read....
Shameless is a drama at heart, and the current domestic bliss enjoyed by the show's resident polyamorous couple could just be setting the stage for even more drama to explode.... But it seems just as likely that these three characters — who respect each other, who enjoy each other's company, who have leaned on each other to balance their child-care needs, and who have never cared what society thinks of their sex habits, could have finally found a long-term relationship that suits them perfectly.
The original (April 4, 2016). Refinery 29 says its mission is "to be the #1 new-media brand for smart, creative and stylish women everywhere."
● This article at AfterEllen, with more pix, was prompted by the previous, next-to-last episode of Season 6: “Shameless” delves into polyamory with Svetlana becoming V and Kevin’s third (March 29):
Whenever I write about Shameless, I profess it to be one of the queerest and most progressive television shows on right now....
Svetlana and V have interacted sexually before, as have Svetlana and Kevin.... But she wasn’t a part of their relationship, romantically, until now....
Kevin is hurt, but also intrigued. Mostly he’s confused, because he’s turned on but also unsure about how this polyamorous relationship could work. (The end of the episode has the three of them sitting and creating a schedule for them all, and gleefully he finds he’ll get nights alone with Svetlana, too.)
Kevin and V have been one of the strongest couples on Shameless.... They always reconcile, fully invested in a future together and with a highly palpable sexual chemistry....
Outside of shows like Sister Wives or Big Love, polyamorous relationships are rarely explored on television. (It’s worth noting the new DirecTV series You Me Her is about a similar set-up. Review forthcoming....)
With the season finale next week, it’s hard to say how this relationship will be wrapped up, or if it will be something we’ll continue to see play out in Season 7. But on a show where sexuality is multi-layered and treated as a fact of life, much like issues of class and race, I remain hopeful that the ballad of V and Lana won’t end with one of them dying or subverting to some kind of heterosexual normative like Svetlana secretly trying to steal Kevin for her own.
● More TV news: In a response to my post about the new poly-comedy series You Me Her, which airs its third episode tonight, I'm told "There was also a mention of poly a couple weeks ago in the SyFy series The Magicians. The parents of one of the main characters came out as having a 'polyamorous triad sort of relationship' with a mutual friend."