Friday Polynews Roundup — More on sweet polyam on ABC sitcom, a Christian writer self-trolls, and that damn word "throuple" becomes unstoppable
It's Friday Polynews Roundup time again! — for January 31, 2020
● The poly relationship developing in ABC's "Single Parents," a mainstream Wednesday night sitcom, prompted an editor at Salon to interview the show's co-creator J.J. Philbin about it: Polyamory is on the rise, and ABC's comedy "Single Parents" is normalizing it with a loving throuple (Jan. 29)
Brian (Nick Hargrove), Miggy (Jake Choi), and Homily (Sarah Yarkin)
By Hanh Nguyen
New throuple alert! Earlier this month, ABC's zany sitcom "Single Parents" became the latest TV series to introduce a polyamorous relationship into its main storyline. In such an ethical non-monogamous relationship, an individual can have an intimate and possibly even committed relationship with more than one partner.
This on-screen change reflects a shift in how Americans are approaching relationships. ... And the younger the person is, the more they are open to and accepting of non-monogamy. In a YouGov study, only 3 percent of Americans over 65 have had sexual contact outside of their relationship with the consent of their partner. That rises to 9 percent for Gen X, and 17 percent for Millennials. Overall, about 29 percent of adults under 30 consider open relationships to be morally acceptable.
Next we get a partial rundown of consensual non-monogamy in previous TV series:
TV has flirted with non-monogamy before, but the polygamy on HBO's "Big Love" and the reality counterpart "Sister Wives" is a completely different animal. The CBS series "Swingtown" tried to look at open marriages through a historic lens, but that didn't even last beyond its 13-episode first season.
Lately, the best depictions of the more modern consensual and ethical non-monogamous relationships are either on cable (Audience Network's "You Me Her" and Showtime's "The L Word") and streaming ("Unicornland"), or touched upon in a broadcast procedural (CBS's "S.W.A.T."). It's rarely been addressed in a smart and respectful way on a comedy.
Enter "Single Parents." In the ensemble comedy co-created by Liz Meriwether ("New Girl") and J.J. Philbin, a group of adults navigate single parenthood with their elementary school-aged kids with the help of each other.
In the show's Jan. 15 episode "Welcome to Hilltop!," friends Poppy and Angie become concerned for their pal Miggy, whose girlfriend Homily is seen cozying up to another man. After a comical stakeout, they discover that's not just any man, but Brian, the couple's boyfriend they had met on a polyam app called Big Bed.
...Homily allays their fears about possible issues with jealousy or feeling left out. "We have a three-pronged approach for working through the sticky stuff: radical honesty, active listening, and open communication," she says. "And it just works."
And then the interview:
Salon spoke with Philbin to discuss the inspiration for the storyline, what sort of research was done to get the depiction correct without feeling preachy or exploitative, and how the writers' room landed on that app name.
J.J. PHILBIN: ...Miggy and Jake do overlap in a lot of ways: they're young and open-hearted, and they're both very loving. . . . That's sort of the superpower that [Miggy] brings to the group. So it felt in line with who he was, and he's a character who's still finding himself and open to anything. And he's there to open the minds of the rest of our characters.
...In the writers' room, we obviously talk about everything, including our personal lives. We do have a writer on staff who wrote this episode, who is queer, and she was in a poly[am] relationship for a minute there. . . . She started explaining that in order to be in a relationship that involves three people, you have to be so upfront right away. The communication skills have to be totally on point. A lot of the stuff that like, in a new relationship when you're feeling out whether you're exclusive or not, or you're trying to pretend like you're not jealous – all that kind of goes out the window, because you have to be so upfront so quickly. She was saying that it's really freeing to be able to dispense with of all of that kind of beginning-of-relationship drama.
We started talking about that – maybe this is actually the way into what's going on with Miggy, because he would be someone who would excel at these kind of communication skills.... Once they realized that it was less about unveiling Miggy as being queer or sexually fluid and more about qualities that went with that, things started to fall into place. ... Our writer Dani Shank did such an amazing job of guiding us through this because obviously we wanted to handle it as maturely and sensitively as possible, while also like still being able to laugh and make it fun.
Was ABC on board with this storyline immediately or were there discussions on how to handle it?
We told them early on in the season, "This is our plan for Miggy. We're gonna wait until we feel like we have the right story for it." We wanted to give it what we think is its proper due, which turned out to be one of the biggest questions: How big a story is it – how much are we paying attention to this reveal about the character because again, we didn't feel like Miggy the character was like tortured about this in any way and didn't want to give that impression.
ABC was really cool about it. They were down for us to do that story. If they had any notes, it was they thought we were being silly about the stakeout. So they were like, "Okay guys, take it easy on the stakeout." But none of their notes were about Miggy revealing himself or being sexually fluid or being in a throuple at all.
What were the conversations with Jake like? [Jake plays Miggy.]
He made it so easy. I told him in the beginning of the year that we were thinking about doing this, and he was just nothing but excited and open. "However you guys want to unveil this, that's fine with me." He definitely weighed in on making sure that we were staying in the reality of it and how to explain it. That was a lot coming from Jake, the fact that it's just about the vibe of the person and less about their sexuality.
Are we going to be seeing any sort of mention of this again before the end of the season?
I think we are getting towards the end [of the season], but we still have three episodes that I'm hoping to get them to get some mention or just kind of update on how this is going. In my head, he's happily in this relationship, and I like the idea that it's stable, and it's not like going to be [drama]. ...
● Yet another California triad family was spotlighted in several British tabloids this week: Woman who is in a 'throuple' with her husband and a woman they met at yoga insists SHE was the one who persuaded her husband to welcome another person into their marriage (January 28, 2020). With, again, piles of photo-professional pix.
...Explaining to a bemused Abbey that no one had cheated on anyone and they were in fact in an open relationship, the couple then invited her to their house the following day.
'Abbey came round, we cooked a huge feast and then later we went to the beach to watch the sunset,' Samela said.
'It was a beautiful sunset and there was a lot of tension in the air. Patrick and I still weren't 100 per cent sure if Abbey just wanted a platonic friendship or if she'd be interested in more.
'We didn't want it to be weird or to be intimidating, with the two of us coming on to her.
'But something about watching the sunset was so beautiful and we shared a kiss and asked Abbey if she would be interested in having more.'...
...In June, the three lovers took a 'crazy leap' and moved in together after four months together.
'We spent all our time together anyway, so we thought, 'Why not just have all our stuff in one place?' Samela explained.
...'We do one-on-one dates, too, because it's important to tend to the individual as well – but the real fun times are when we're all together.'
...The three-way couple have even launched their own podcast — aptly titled Throuple Trouble and have received messages from people who want to open up their relationships.
...Proving just how strong their bond as a threesome or 'throuple' is, the lovers have now planned a ceremony in February to declare their love and to commit to each other for a year and one day.
...'They've bought me a crown to wear on the day of the ceremony and it's symbolic because Sam and Patrick treat me like royalty.
'I truly believe having two people in your heart is better than one.'
● Oh heck, here's a couple more of these from the backlog. From Washington state, in the UK's The Sun, THRICE AS NICE - Throuple say people are disgusted by their three-way relationship but their six kids find it ‘incredibly exciting’ (Dec. 27, 2019)
The couple - who met when they were nine years old and share Atticus, seven, Maxim, five and Solomon, three - had never explored polyamory before meeting the British mum-of-three.
After striking up a friendship with Naomi - who moved to the US from Essex in 2004 - the families began to spend time at one another's homes while the kids played.
Within a few months, the three adults had fallen in love.
..."This was also our first foray into polyamory so there was a lot to decipher emotionally."
Explaining how their dynamic works, Mackenzie said: "We are a polyfidelitous triad, which means we are a closed relationship.
"But all of us are in love with the others; we are all equal parts in this relationship."
Although the mum hit back at society's "toxic" view of polyamory, Mackenzie said: "The best things about being in a triad are the abundance of love, being in a relationship with both a man and a woman, always having someone you love around, and the teamwork that helps us get through life with ease and joy."
In the UK's Daily Star, from Bakersfield, California, Polyamorous quad claim ‘jealousy is not an issue’ with bed rotation each night (Sept. 12, 2019)
Day in the park: the four with their eight kids
The polyamorous quad live together with their kids and say their relationship is just as loving as any other.
The former firefighter says he knew he always wanted a large family and that being monogamous would not bring him happiness.
Now, the polyamorous quad share their family life on YouTube to support and connect other polyamorous families. ...
● About that word "throuple", used so often above. A lot polyfolks hate it.
"Triad" has been the term within the community for a half century — ever since Grace Slick introduced David Crosby's song by that name on the Jefferson Airplane album "Crown of Creation" in 1968.
Meanwhile the gay community, on its own separate, parallel track, started using "throuple" some years ago. It does have the advantage of obviously being an expansion of "couple." But some think it sounds trivial-ish and couple-centric.
Curious, I put throuple (and its variants thruple and thrupple) into Google Trends. This graph shows the relative search rates for all three, worldwide, for the last 8 years. (The lines were very flat for many years before.) Yup, taking off.
|(The numbers are relative search rates scaled to set the peak as 100%.)|
Anyone know what might have caused those two recent spikes? They're in late June and late October of last year.
So we're going to have to get used to "throuple." But triad forever shines in my heart (I'm listening to that Airplane album right now, having looked it up), and I suspect the poly community will always use it in preference.
● Speaking of triads, in the conservative Christian magazine The World, Janie B. Cheaney surely didn't grasp how she was accidentally trolling herself in Picture a Triangle: Polyamory makes deviance the norm (Jan. 30):
Picture a triangle. Any structural engineer will tell you there is no more stable figure. Bridges, roads, and skyscrapers would not exist without a sound underpinning of countless triangles. Picture a family: A man and woman become husband and wife, and in the normal course of events they produce and nurture one child, or two, or eight. Father, mother, and offspring make a triad. ...
...As Augustine observed, triadic structures form the foundation of the universe, built upon the creative dynamic of Father, Son, and Spirit. Peer into any corner of the natural world... Reality can break down into smaller pieces, but the bond of three is irreducible.
She was reacting to conservative Geoffrey Miller's 3,000-word defense of polyamory last October, Polyamory Is Growing—And We Need To Get Serious About It.
● Last week's Polynews Roundup included coverage of Sarah Ruhl's play "How to Transcend a Happy Marriage," now onstage in San Francisco. This week it got a lavish review in Broadway World (Jan. 25).
..."How to Transcend a Happy Marriage" soars on Ruhl's intelligent script and fine performances across the board. By challenging the concept of monogamous marriage, the play's introductions of polyamory can be a metaphor for many other alternative lifestyle choices facing us in 2020 and the future. If the hesitant couples presented here can have their minds shifted by new exposures, all things may be possible.
...But a reviewer at The Daily Californian, the student newspaper of UC Berkeley, finds it to be more of a mishmosh of Ruhl's theatrical pretentions and calls it narratively bewildering (Jan. 29).
● More theater, again from Broadway World. Soon to open in London is a play called "La Bohème,"
a thoroughly modern look at relationships, addiction and co-dependency in London's hip and happening Peckham. On-off couple Marcello (Marcus) and Musetta (Melissa) navigate the emotional complexities of a polyamorous relationship, whilst flatmate Rodolfo's (Rod) gratification on Grindr is disrupted when he meets the beautiful and enigmatic Mimi (Luca).
See Inside Rehearsal For Opera Undone: TOSCA and LA BOHEME (Jan. 31).
● From writer E. L. Byrne, who discovered polyamory fairly late in life: My Friendships are Key (Jan. 25)
"One of the things I love most about the way I live my polyamorous life is the freedom I have to make and grow strong friendships. My relationships with my romantic partners purposefully don’t take up all the space in my life. I know I am a better person, more well rounded, more secure, happier, and easier to be with when I have multiple people in my life. ...
● PSA: February is Black History Month, and Chanee from Black Poly Pride (its convention happens June 4–7 in Washington, DC) writes,
Black Poly Pride will be running a campaign throughout the entire month highlighting people, organizations, communities, and works of art related to Poly Black History. In our ongoing effort to combat the whitewashing of polyamorous culture, it is important to showcase the living legends that are Black and polyamorous, as well as the culture of Black polyamorous people.
To that end, we need your help! We will be sharing Poly Black History facts on all of our social media outlets as well as exclusive content with our Patreon subscribers. Please; share, share, share!
If you are willing to share with your email lists, local groups, or would like to receive the content in advance to share with your networks, please reach out to me directly at ChaneeKendall (at) gmail (dot) com. I’m also interested in and open to hearing your ideas about topics relevant to Black polyamorous history.
That's Friday Polynews Roundup for now! See you next week unless something big comes up sooner.
P.S.: The Poly Living Convention is this weekend (Feb. 7–9) in Philadelphia. Register online or at the door. Day passes available. See you there!