A sudden abundance of black & poly film and webseries
We're in a rich moment for video/film explorations of consensual non-monogamy in the black community. Spike Lee's not-so-poly She's Gotta Have It, on Netflix, is getting the most attention with its famous maker and its strong "polyamorous, pansexual" lady star. But here are two other video series, and a documentary, which deserve more notice than they've had so far.
● 195 Lewis is an explicitly poly webseries; it follows a black lesbian couple trying to practice radical honesty in their newly polyamorous relationship. Here's its review in Colorlines: A Black Queer Couple Candidly Explores Polyamory in '195 Lewis' (November 17, 2017):
Director Chanelle Aponte Pearson shares how her all-Black LGBTQ creative team brought their truth to the five-part web series.
By Sameer Rao
Black women like Chanelle Aponte Pearson rarely see the rich complexity of their lives featured in narrative television. So Pearson and a group of LGBTQ artists poured their multi-dimensional lives into “195 Lewis,” a new scripted miniseries that debuted online last night (November 16).
The five-episode show takes its name from the address in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, where much of the plot takes place. It stars show co-creator Rae Leone Allen and actress Sirita Wright (“See You Next Tuesday”) as Yuri and Camille, respectively, two Black women in a romantic and newly polyamorous relationship. The series follows the pair’s struggles with jealousy and self-doubt....
“Rae and Yaani constantly joke that, when they moved to Brooklyn [from the South], they weren’t used to experiencing what they saw here,” Pearson says. “They pulled from new experiences with these things, like polyamory, open relationships and radical honesty. And I certainly pulled from my experience navigating polyamory for several years.”
Pearson adds that they want to portray polyamory with a nuance that it rarely receives on screen, especially for queer Black people.
“We didn’t want to make it seem that poly relationships are more moral or involved than other relationships,” she says. “This is one poly story, not the definitive one — this is not the only way that you go about navigating an open relationship. That’s also true in how the characters try to figure out how it works for them. Just because you have a particular intention for what you want your relationship to be doesn’t mean that things don’t change and evolve — especially when you’re working with something that isn’t traditionally understood or even accepted. I hope that the audience sees that these people are, at the end of the day, trying their best.”
Pearson simultaneously acknowledges that “195 Lewis” speaks to the real difficulty that LGBTQ people of color endure when they reject the relationship standards that the world places on them. “We’re trying to throw [society’s] scripts out completely and create our own roadmaps to what love, compassion, care and family mean for us,” she says.
“195 Lewis” debuted online through MVMT Films, the production company that Pearson operates with co-producer Terance Nance (An Oversimplification of Her Beauty) and other Black multimedia artists.
On Indiewire, ‘195 Lewis’ Explores Polyamory With the Style of a Lesbian ‘Insecure’ (Nov. 16)
By Jude Dry
If Issa Rae were a queer woman, “Insecure” might look more like “195 Lewis,” a show so stylish, sexy, and assured that it has steadily built momentum by word of mouth since its festival premiere over a year ago. ...
...In the exclusive clip below, newbie Kris is schooled in the five kinds of lesbians. The scene illustrates many of the show’s finest attributes: Funny, visually compelling, and with a distinctly queer point of view. Check it out:
At FilmSchoolRejects.com, Meet ‘195 Lewis,’ The Next Breakout Webseries (Nov. 16)
By Sarah Foulkes
This webseries may be made by queer black women for queer black women, but its quality is something anyone can see.
...The show manages to beautifully open up the safe world that the characters have carved for themselves to an audience with a similar lived experience, or with enough respectful curiosity to watch and listen. Above all, the series is about black intimacy, black female intimacy. It hits record on a world that has existed for decades but has only until recently been overlooked.
Update Dec 29: Indiewire ranks 195 Lewis number 2 in The 10 Best Web Series of 2017.
● Next up: Jackie Stone's 13-episode series Compersion. It's been available for more than a year on her Enchant TV site, on YouTube, and elsewhere. Longtime California polyactivist Pepper Mint calls it
my favorite poly web series so far. There are certainly painful moments in it, but they are painful to me specifically because they so accurately reflect the transition into polyamory. And the acting is great, and the cinematography is good. ... While this series hasn't seen a lot of exposure in the mainstream poly community, it's all over the black-and-poly communities.
Pepper adds, "It hurt to watch — and that's because it was an accurate picture of the difficulties trying to open a relationship."
Here's Episode 1:
Here are all 13 episodes.
Joreth Innkeeper on her Poly-ish Movie Reviews site writes,
...The fact that it's still a hetero couple "opening up" their marriage a reasonable compromise for me. This show is already blowing past so many other cultural tropes that I'm totally willing to hear this story be told again, because it's being told from a different, under-represented perspective.
...I am going to harp on one particular conversation in one episode, so that is kinda spoilery. By the 4th episode, there is an acceptance of sorts. ... We're now at the point where that dating has been given the green light. Through a series of cut-backs, we see part of the conversation where the couple moves into acceptance and planning. And here is my criticism: the conversation is absolutely typical of everything I'm against in the poly community. ...
The whole review.
● Next: Poly Love, a 27-minute documentary film that was recently picked up by Amazon Prime:
The blurb: "A documentary that approaches polyamory from the intimate point of view of an Afro-American family who decided to live an authentic life without denying the option of diversity in their love and family."
● And while we're at it, black comedian DeRay Davis has been making a splash coming out as poly. In the Atlanta Black Star, Are Three-Way Relationships the New Thing? DeRay Davis’ Unconventional Relationship Sparks Discussion (Nov. 11):
By Daryl Nelson
...“Living with two women in a polyamorous relationship is perfectly fine, and people shouldn’t be shocked that it works,” Davis said during a recent stop on the daytime talk show “The Real.”
At the moment, he’s in a relationship and lives with two women, 26-year-old Caro Peguero and 24-year-old Coco Crawford, and the union was captured on the Oxygen docu-series “Living with Funny” last year.
On “The Real,” Davis said that everyone in his household lives harmoniously, and he shunned the playboy image that some people may have of him.
“I’ve been with one for about five years, the other one for almost two and half years now,” he explained. “They’re very comfortable, ’cause I’m very open. I don’t make it where it’s all, ‘Oooh, look what I’m doing.’ I’m not a player.”
...The comedian’s Oxygen show, as well as his recent interview, comes on the heels of multiple person relationships making headlines and being on TV.
For example, R. Kelly has been famously accused of having several women, known as “sister wives,” living in his Georgia and Chicago homes. Not to mention, there’s a storyline on the show “Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta” that involves music manager Rodney Bullock, Jasmine Washington and Keanna Arnold in a three-way relationship that people have been buzzing about.
Then, there was that recent episode of the MTV show “Catfish,” where a guy named Wayne asked a woman named Robin if she’d move in with him and his other girlfriends. “I’ve never just been solidly committed to one girl,” said Wayne during the episode. “I like to have more than one girlfriend at a time. … We could be one happy family all in one household.”
Robin ultimately declined his offer and ended their relationship.
The HBO series “Insecure” touched on polyamory as well, when the characters Molly and Dro hooked up, although there wasn’t any cohabitation going on between them and Dro’s wife.
There are also sites like Black & Poly that cater to Black people interested in polyamory, and long-running matchmaking site OkCupid has a section that caters to folks seeking that type of romance as well.
All of these things combined could lead one to believe that polyamorous relationships are a growing trend in the U.S., but according to relationship expert Dr. Tiffanie Henry — who runs a private practice in Fayetteville, Ga. and a site called My Intimate Details — that may not be the case.
“I don’t know if it’s necessarily a growing trend,” she said in an exclusive interview. “I just think people are more comfortable talking about different ways of love and loving people. Just like there was a time when people didn’t necessarily admit or talk about same-sex relationships, but now people are very comfortable or more comfortable with being out, with talking about their relationships and the dynamics of their relationships — whether it’s being in a same-sex relationship, whether it’s being open to kink or BDSM or having multiple partners.” ...
● Meanwhile, Kenya and Carl Stevens, longtime advocates and coaches for poly and open relationships, have a 24-minute video out, which comes via their recent publicity campaign:
Others I missed?
Labels: black & poly