"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.