Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

July 29, 2019

"TV's Most Interesting Polyamorous Relationship," says TV Guide about Siren

As mainstream TV series pick up on the idea of polyamory, one of the most successful of these has turned out to be Siren from Disney's Freeform division. Two marine biologists, Ben and Maddie, are sent to investigate reports of a mermaid who kills. They find her, it turns out she can become temporarily human, and — long story short and all storylines skipped — the three have been forming into a polyamorous triad.

Don't expect bunnies-and-cotton-candy poly. There is darkness here, as you might guess from the logo above. Ryn the mermaid is spooky even when on two legs, and she can destroy problem humans with her song.

Reviews have been excellent, such as this one in TV Guide: Siren's Alex Roe is Proud to Portray TV's Most Interesting Polyamorous Relationship (June 14, 2019). The current second half of Season 2 has upped the polyamory theme; apparently the network found that it sells.

Season 2's cliffhanger finale airs this Thursday, August 1 (on Freeform, 8 pm eastern, 7 central). It will set things up for the already-commissioned Season 3.

Here's the introductory trailer for the series.

Here's the trailer for Thursday's episode:

Siren is Freeform's top-performing series. Much of the media coverage has picked up on the poly theme.

● First, from the TV Guide article:

Siren's Alex Roe is Proud to Portray TV's Most Interesting Polyamorous Relationship

Ben (Alex Roe), Maddie (Fola Evans-Akingbola), and Ryn the mermaid (Eline Powell)

By Lindsay MacDonald

In recent years, Freeform has taken their new motto, "A little forward," pretty seriously when it comes to diverse representation on all of their shows, whether it comes to body type, skin color, or sexual orientation. The network's [second-season] fantasy series, Siren, about a mermaid who finds herself struggling to assimilate into the world on land, has taken an important step towards inclusion this year by incorporating a polyamorous relationship into their storyline between the show's three main characters.

When Ryn first found her way into Ben and Maddie's lives on land, she became immediately enamored with both of them. It wasn't a hard thing to explain from her point of view, seeing as her life underwater allowed her to grow up without any of the modern societal constraints around gender or sexuality. Naturally, she fell in love with both of them and didn't seem to care that the human world would find anything odd about the three of them sharing a relationship.

Ben and Maddie didn't dive in headfirst like Ryn did, but now that the show is well into Season 2, we've seen both of them slowly grow to accept that their previous relationship now undeniably included a third member. According to Alex Roe ("Ben"), this step was an exciting one to take in Season 2, and he's enjoyed watching the audience react to the love story the show has started to build out.

"We're so grateful for any fan reaction at all, it's amazing that it's sparked any conversation. We're grateful, full stop," Roe told TV Guide. ... "Some people are freaked out by it, some people are cool with it, but I think starting a conversation is a pretty important thing to do. Ultimately, their relationship is all about love, you know? 'Ben and Maddie are love,' as Ryn says. I think what's amazing about it is you have this mermaid who doesn't see the way that humans see and all that humans have been taught to see. She just loves who she loves, and I think that Ben and Maddie's minds have been opened because of that."

The progression of these three characters' relationship has been a slow and natural progression, especially considering Ben and Maddie were in a relationship together before Ryn came along. What could have turned into a tropey disaster of a love triangle instead managed to pull off a respectful and organic depiction of a trio of people that care deeply about each other without any salacious implications or unnecessary jealousy getting in the way.

...Love is love is love, even when one part of your throuple is technically part fish.

● Two days ago in Business Times, 'Siren' Season 2 Finale Sets Course For New Season, Polyamorous Relationships Will Further Play Out (July 27):

The three stars

By Stacy Pantoja

Freeform's Siren has become a hit series ever since its arrival on the network. ... And as per Variety, the succeeding episodes will finally feature the hinted polyamorous relationships among the characters on the show.

Quite interestingly, there are already events on the second season that tackled this aspect. Hence, it is very much expected for Siren Season 3 to be so much more open to this subject.

● From TVLine, Siren Season 2 Is Giving Us TV's First Polyamorous Mermaid Thruple (Jan. 24).

By Andy Swift

Freeform’s Siren is taking a novel approach to supernatural love triangles: Why should anyone have to choose?

The power of a siren’s song coupled with the species’ natural sexual fluidity presents an intriguing situation for mermaid Ryn and humans Ben and Maddie. As the latter two work through their lingering feelings for one another, as well as their otherworldly infatuation with Ryn, they’ll find themselves navigating yet-uncharted waters.

“We teased it a lot in the first year, and it would be unfair to the audience if we just teased it forever without getting to what we’re trying to land on,” executive producer Emily Whitesell tells TVLine. “We could only dance around that polyamorous relationship for so long, and we really did hold off.”

She continues, “We’re trying to address the world we live in and how we feel about other each other. People aren’t as into labels anymore, and everything doesn’t have to be defined so perfectly and be so restrictive. This is the world we live in, and it’s the way a lot of people want to live their lives.” This new romantic formation differs from the “traditional” TV love triangles “where there’s jealousy and everyone is at each other’s throats.”

And as more mermaids wash ashore in Season 2, the idea of them being “refugees” — strangers in a strange land, if you will — works as another real-world parallel for Siren to mine. “We think about the show in a lot of metaphorical ways,” Whitesell says. “You can have a cool story about things people are interested in, but if it isn’t grounded in what’s happening in the world, it loses its allure.”

● On the feminist The Mary Sue: Siren’s Polyamorous Relationship Is One of the Most Refreshing Queer Relationships on TV (Feb. 5)

By Meredith Siegel

There have been a few shows about polyamory, probably the most famous — or infamous — being Sister Wives on TLC. A more positive look at polyamorous relationships is You Me Her, a show about a 30-something couple that both fall in love with a grad student.

However, I’d argue the most positive and natural take on polyamory seems to come from Freeform’s Siren. The series is a drama that’s attempting to be a thriller, but where it really shines is in its lead characters, focusing on a mermaid named Ryn adjusting to life on land while searching for her sister. ...

● A long review on Paste.com: From Ecoterrorism to Polyamory, the Second Season of Siren Continues to Transcend Expectation (June 13):

By Alexis Gunderson

...I became overwhelmed with network-specific anxiety. How long would it be, I worried, before Freeform’s documented pro-[relation]’shipping agenda managed to undermine all the weird, wild work the Siren crew had put into making theirs a show that defies sexy simplification? How long before Ryn’s (Eline Powell) feral animalism would be forced to shapeshift in favor of fulfilling the fairytale fantasy of a beautiful mermaid falling in love with the handsome human man?...

...Well, good news: Siren has managed to stay ferociously anti-formula. ... As the bond between Ryn, Ben and Maddie has deepened, and as both the human and mermaid worlds have expanded, Siren’s [second season] has played out almost like a game of supernatural chicken. You want a titillating ‘ship?, the show spent the winter half of the current season asking, pulling Ryn into Ben and Maddie’s relationship not as a mermaid ex machina wedge, but instead as a very willing third. Well then, we’ll see your titillation and raise you a stable polyamorous throuple. ...

But where a different show might have taken the prospect of a mermaid-inclusive throuple and squeezed it for all the visual titillation it might be worth, Siren has leaned instead on the deep emotional bond the three characters have been working to develop since the pilot. ... While [the] physicality has been given enough screen time to make it clear both to viewers at home and to the trio’s friends and family in Bristol Cove just what is going on, the camera never lingers so long that any of us risk becoming voyeurs.

Moreover, the writers have been careful from the start to separate Ben and Maddie’s sexual attraction to Ryn as a person from their supernatural attraction to her mysteriously powerful song, and to separate Ryn’s attraction to the two of them from her own internal reaction to singing. It helps, of course, that her song induces in both Ben and Maddie not sexual fantasies, but rather violent visions and self-destructive behaviors. Still... not to fall into the trap of mixing that up with the sexual and/or romantic attraction she might command just as a person, that’s a real coup. ...

● Also in Business Times: 'Siren' Season 3 Renewal Confirmed; Season 2 Complicates Polyamorous Relationship (June 17)

By Rachel Cruz

The most popular show on the network ... is coming back for more of the polyamorous relationship between Ben, Maddie, and Ryn. ... Presumably, the third season will begin its run in Spring 2020.

Eric Wald and Emily Whitesell told TV Line that because they have been teasing Ben, Maddie and Ryn's relationship since season 1, it only [made] sense to finally dive down deep into this arrangement in the second half of season 2.

"Not only is it a polyamorous relationship in a society that doesn't really understand that as it is, but it's also now a polyamorous relationship with someone who is half human and half of another species," Roe said. "So, yeah, it's incredibly complicated and good for them for going for it."

● And on the site of Media Entertainment Arts WorldWide, Ryn, Ben and Maddie's relationship as a consensual throuple is beautiful to watch (July 29)

The bond shared between this throuple will be one that will have a long-lasting impact on its viewers in terms of understanding relationships and the true sense of love, passion, and intimacy.


● Aaaand while we're on about poly on TV, a new docu-series starts airing September 30th in the UK: Stacy Dooley Sleeps Over. Dooley, a prominent documentarian, will "spend 72-hours in the company of a wide range of extraordinary characters and families, with the kinds of relationships we've never seen up close before."

For the show opener, of course they've chosen a polyfamily. From What's On TV: Stacey Dooley moves in with a polyamorous ‘throuple’ for new TV series – so what’s it about? (June 13)

She’s best known for travelling to war zones and tackling serious issues in her documentaries, but Stacey Dooley is embarking on a new adventure.

...The first couple she’ll move in with is ‘throuple’ Thomas, Cathy and Nicole – who all live together in London with Cathy’s seven-year-old son.

Talking about the dynamics of their relationship on Good Morning Britain, Cathy admitted the unusual set up doesn’t just benefit Thomas – but all three of them individually:

She explained: “This relationship is not something that benefits Thomas more than it benefits Nic and I because we’re equally close so we have an intimate relationship too, Nicole and Thomas have an intimate relationship and obviously Thomas and I are married and have an intimate relationship.

“And each one of us gives each other different things and meets different needs.”

...The six-part series will see Stacey, 32, observe other relationships that “others might judge”.

Adam Collings, channel director for W, hinted it was a no-brainer to have Stacey behind this show as she can offer “smart and contemporary views on modern life”. ...

Update to that, Sept. 1: Stacey Dooley was later interviewed about the poly episode and said, ‘What really took me by surprise was when we were all on the sofa and the husband and wife – obviously married and they’ve got a little boy, and then the girlfriend comes in and out. ‘I saw the husband [stroking the girlfriend’s arm] really lovingly and the wife was looking on like, “Oh I’m so made up they’ve got this connection”, and I just find that really hard to comprehend. I think I’d be jealous.’

Another update, Sept. 12: In the UK's Express, members of the triad describe their positive experience having Stacey Dooley documentarize them, and more on how their group relationship works: What living with Stacey was really like – Throuple reveals all (Sept. 11).

It includes a 1-minute video in which one of the guys describes the joy of compersion in a group bedroom.


Labels: ,

July 19, 2019

About that "Girl Code" poly twitter fight in the news

A celebrity poly breakup is trending in the celebrity news. Here's a summary, with the incisive poly-aware perspective that it needs, in the UK's The Independent.

Here's the real problem with Bella Thorne and Tana Mongeau's 'girl code' Twitter fight

By Sirena Bergman

You may have thought that when one is in a polyamorous, bisexual relationship which began on Twitter and has since been followed by millions on Instagram Stories and YouTube vlogs, all conventions would fly out of the window.

But it seems that even among the most unorthodox of relationships, pointless traditional norms persist. In a tweet yesterday, actor, writer and influencer Bella Thorne told her followers that she was “no longer good” with her ex-girlfriend, YouTuber Tana Mongeau, after she “broke girl code”. This is presumably a reference to Mongeau being photographed leaving a restaurant with rapper Mod Sun – who was also in a relationship with Thorne until earlier this year.

Thorne did not call out Mod Sun for having dinner with her ex – she came straight for the woman, invoking archaic ideas around gender and loyalty. For someone who presents so progressive, who vocally challenges presumptions and stereotypes ... Thorne’s tweet (which has since gone viral) seems counterproductive and unhelpful.

The dynamics of the relationship are important here – people are referring to the three as a thruple, but according to what all parties have discussed, this seems inaccurate. Thorne was in what appears to be a primary open relationship with Mod Sun, while simultaneously dating Mongeau. The three of them were not – as some have inaccurately stated – in a three-way relationship. Mongeau and Mod Sun are not exes; from what we know they are simply two people who have an ex in common. So the differences in the ways they are both publicly treated by Thorne matters. ...

...By using the phrase “girl code”, a gendered term which evokes images of female friends braiding each other’s hair while talking about boys, Thorne has inadvertently validated the attitude that her relationship with Mongeau cannot compare to the inherent legitimacy of the one she had with a man, who was no where to be found on her Twitter timeline.

There is a persistent narrative that women's moral value is attached to the way they act in relation to men. ...

The idea that they are still adhering to the absurd concept of “girl code”, which blames women for their involvement in a male-female interaction while implying men’s actions are beyond reprehension, should be worrying to anyone who cares about challenging these perceptions.

...Young women are starved for cultural icons who proudly renounce expectations that society continues to force upon us. We need more people like Thorne and Mongeau who don’t feel the need to clearly define their sexuality – this freedom is crucial in advancing LGBT+ (emphasis on the “plus”) rights. Neither do they seem shackled by the oppressive nature of traditional relationships. Polyamory is certainly not for everyone, but the acceptance of it as a legitimate romantic structure is crucial for women’s rights, which remain subjugated by our reverence for heteronormative marriages, “nuclear families” and other persistent patriarchal constructs.

Thorne may well be frustrated at Mongeau’s actions and she is within her rights to say so, but I cannot help but be disappointed in her choice of words, which has to some extent undone her reputation – at least in my mind – as a true pioneer of progressive feminism.

This public spat about a non-existent “girl code” puts further undue pressure on women to act based on outdated notions of femininity. Let's hope it does not denigrate the importance of Thorne and Mongeau’s matter-of-fact, transparent attitude towards their own sexualities, which should be looked back upon as a pivotal moment for social change when it comes to young women in the public eye.

The original (July 19, 2019), with a short video.


Labels: , , ,

July 12, 2019

"Men Like Monogamy Less Than Women, Right? Think Again"

The leaders and influencers of the modern polyamory movement — its speakers, book authors, bloggers, podcasters, media spokespeople, conference creators, and public faces — continue to be overwhelmingly women. It's been that way since the movement's beginnings in the mid-1980s. But what about the people on the ground, the ordinary folks who explore consensual non-monogamy or think they might like to?

The conventional wisdom is that men want multiple mates more than women do. But a study indicates (again) that when it comes to negotiated, honest open relationships, women are the ones out front. An article about it appeared this morning in Ozy ("fresh stories and bold ideas").

Men Like Monogamy Less Than Women, Right? Think Again

By Carly Stern

“Why are you being so honest with me?” Hardly the most common complaint one hears from people who meet via dating apps — but alas, Brianna Rader, a queer woman, 27, had decided to speak the truth. She had been on a few dates with Karly, a woman she’d met on Tinder, and she wanted Karly to know up front that she wasn’t monogamous. Karly just laughed and wondered why Rader was sharing this in the first place. ...

The approach apparently worked because they’re still together. Rader, founder and CEO of the sexual wellness company Juicebox, and Karly are among the 4 to 5 percent of Americans who researchers estimate practice polyamory, where partners agree to have sexual or romantic relationships with multiple partners. Classic assumptions about male sexual appetites would lead one to assume men are more likely to be in such arrangements. But there’s scarce research specifically on preferences within the poly community — and what’s out there challenges those notions. A recent study found that:
Women were significantly more comfortable with the idea of nonmonogamy than men.

That’s according to a 2018 working paper [link] by a researcher [Anne-Laure Le Cunff] at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London. The study surveyed 509 people around the world who self-identified as either polyamorous, monoamorous or ambiamorous (those willing to be in either monogamous or polyamorous relationships) about their attitudes toward exclusivity. In the study, women scored higher than men for sexual and romantic openness scores — both for themselves and for their partners. Of the respondents, 55 percent identified as LGBTQ, 38 percent as straight and 7 percent were unsure.

While this finding goes against conventional wisdom, it’s not totally out of the blue. Attributes traditionally associated with women often prove to be essential assets in nonmonogamous situations. For one, there’s additional dialogue and negotiation happening in poly relationships — and communication historically has been characterized as a female strength, says Madison McCullough, a social worker and therapist who focuses on LGBTQ communities. More people involved in a relationship means more to balance, especially for those with children and growing families, McCullough says. ...

Another contributor: jealousy. ... Possessiveness over a romantic partner tends to be socially conditioned among heteronormative men, in Rader’s eyes. ...

To be sure, this research is far from conclusive. For one, it oversampled LGBTQ participants: A 2017 Gallup survey estimated that about 4.5 percent of Americans don’t identify as straight, as opposed to 55 percent of survey respondents. There’s significant overlap between the queer and poly community, Rader notes. ...

There is also data to suggest men do more commonly seek out multiple partners. A 2016 YouGov survey found that men were 13 percent less likely to be in a “completely monogamous” relationship than women and 25 percent less likely to say their ideal relationship was totally one-on-one.

But there’s a difference between polyamory and old-fashioned cheating. A study last year [link] using data from the 2012 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior found that while 12 percent of people were in nonmonogamous relationships, only a third of those were consensually open relationships. ...

The whole article (July 12, 2019).

Some related reading:

"Poly is a matriarchy", explains Page Turner in her tips for clueless newbie men (2016).

The surprisingly woman-friendly roots of modern polyamory, by Libby Copeland in Slate (2012).

● Leanna Wolfe's historical stages of polyamory, gender-related, in a talk at last spring's Rocky Mountain Poly Living con.


Labels: ,

July 4, 2019

Polyfamily speaks out on TV after flag is stolen from porch

This just in: A polyfamily speaks out on Kansas TV news after an American Pride flag was snatched from outside their home. It's powerful coverage for the nature of poly, from KCTV5 News in Kansas City. Watch here:

Pride, Patriotism stolen from KCK front porch

By Betsy Webster, Maggie Holmes

KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -- Five days before Independence Day, someone stole a veteran’s flag off his front porch. But when KCTV5 News started talking with him, we found out there was more to it.

The flag was in its bracket on their front porch, but it wasn’t a standard issue flag, which might explain why someone stole it.

CJ, Brandi and Brooke, husband, wife and girlfriend, have been living together as a polyamorous triad for about a year.

“We are faithful to each other but it’s just the three of us and we feel like we have so much love to give, that why limit it to one person,” Brandi said.

Last month, they saw this and it spoke to them:

A tribute to CJ’s seven years in the Army,

His three years as a Sheriff’s Deputy,

A celebration of their atypical approach to love,

And affirmation for all those who love differently from the majority.

...Early Sunday morning, a man who had his face covered, snatched their flag from their front porch.

“We were in a way defeated at first, but then kind of charged, to like, this is not going to happen,” Brandi said.

Several variations of American flags fill their neighborhood heading into Independence Day. CJ wonders if the thief saw his version as a desecration. But to him, it’s no less patriotic than the flag he readily salutes.

“It was still an American flag. It just had an additional meaning,” CJ said.

The three doubt they’ll ever know who did it, but they felt violated, uneasy, then galvanized and realized, maybe they could make a difference if they could help people better understand their way of life.

...“I would have sat out there for half an hour having a conversation with him,” CJ said.

“I love seeing them love each other,” Brooke said. “CJ loves seeing me and Brandi love each other. And Brandi loves seeing me and CJ love each other. We all love love. It's infinite.”

They said they’re an open book, out to family, but misunderstood by many who equate polyamory with people who just want to spice up their sex life. They said it’s about so much more.

As for the flag, they have ordered another one and plan to hang it as soon as it comes in.

The original with video (June 2, 2019).

Congrats, you guys. You did great on camera. Happy Fourth.


Labels: , , ,