Fresh Snark: Showtime’s “Polyamory: Married and Dating”

First things first, I know a bit about polyamory. I know some wonderful poly folks and have a lot of respect for that lifestyle choice. But I’m no expert. I’m not poly myself, mainly because I detest talking about feelings and relationships, but also because I find one man a lot of work and can’t imagine having time or energy for two or three. But for the purpose of watching Showtime’s Polyamory: Married & Dating I decided to play dumb. What would I learn about polyamory just from watching this show? *cue snark*

What is up with the 90′s hair? I don’t understand…

  • Polyamory is about sex. Like all the time. Talking about it or doing it. Especially in the shower. But because you have to talk about permissions sex doesn’t happen as often as you like. Apparently a lot of people want or expect sex only to be disappointed when a lover puts their foot down or the poly party isn’t a wild orgy.
  • All poly people are thin, attractive and under 45. There are no fat, ugly, or old poly people. Or gay poly men. It’s all straight dudes with cheesy haircuts and Hot Bi Babes.
  • When you throw a party for someone, you totally invite the one person that makes them uncomfortable. And make them feel bad about not wanting to see the person their lover was sneaking around with. Just because the party is about them, doesn’t mean it’s about them.
  • Poly people are uber-stylish. They would never wear crocs.
  • Poly people have really hip names that are hard to spell phonetically.
  • When you are attracted to someone it’s because they look hot, not because they are smart, funny or charming.
  • Poly people don’t drink, do drugs, eat meat or wear shoes when they are trying to hook up.
  • Poly women don’t wear bras, unless they have a really cool job as an exotic dancer.
  • Apparently poly people don’t have kids.
  • When you tell your lovers that you need some space, that is totally the cue for one of them to follow you out of the room to pursue the conflict further.
  • Poly men smile all the time. It’s creepy.
  • Poly men do not have facial hair.
  • Getting some damn chocolate requires giving up some tongue.
  • When your lover gives up some tongue for chocolate, you stare at them sourly and insist they wash their mouth out before they kiss you.
  • A “party” involves sitting in a big-ass circle and sharing your “lovestyle” (I still don’t know what that is) stone-cold sober with a group of strangers for no discernible practical purpose. Maybe if you like someone’s “lovestyle” you will hook up?
  • New people=fresh meat.
  • To either please the show or make poly friends you have to drive all the way to San Diego. Doesn’t seem environmentally friendly.
  • You have to have a commitment ceremony before your wedding.
  • Some chick you just met will totally get all excited about planning your commitment ceremony.
  • Half of poly people haven’t told their parents they are poly. Probably because their parents have Showtime.

Yeah, so my verdict is that this is a bad representation of polyamory as I understand it and have witnessed it among my friends. That said, it was a damn entertaining show for someone as horrible as myself. I cackled and went Mystery Science Theater 3000 on it. Which was fun because my roommates won’t let me do that to the Twilight movies.

So if you want to sit around and eat chocolate (without giving up any tongue) and snark as naked people with bad haircuts do annoying stuff on tv, this show is for you. I still think Family is a better representation of polyamory, but I will say that Showtime’s Polyamory: Married and Dating is probably better for polyamory than Charlie Sheen. But it’s not really hard to be better than Charlie Sheen. I mean, even Snooki is better than Charlie Sheen.

I think I saw episode 5. Should I bring the snark again on Episode 6? Or is this enough?

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So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish!
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About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • Simon Jadis

    This was wonderful, Star. This show sounds a little dreadful.

    Why won’t your roommates let you do that to the Twilight films? They need it more than most.

  • Star Foster

     This show is AWESOME! Awesomely bad, but still AWESOME!

    They are Twilight fans. I unleashed my full snark on it once, and they sat there helpless and horrified. I am no longer allowed to watch Twilight with them. Which is fine, because I’m a Downton Abbey junkie.

  • kadiera

    Oh my (says the poly woman who breaks more than half of those stereotypes and knows that even with our complications, life here is “not interesting enough for tv”)

    Then again, about half of those snarks apply to all reality shows….

  • Simon Jadis

     Oh, wow. I am a huge fan of fantasy in general, including contemporary fantasy–and including vampires. As you can imagine, I do not care for Twilight, but I have NEVER actually met a Twilight fan. The closest that anyone whom I know comes to that is: “Taylor Lautner is super hot.” And if that were the standard, I would be a fan, as well.

    I may watch this show, just to get an idea of what it’s like. From what you have said, it sounds about as accurate as almost any show or film that tries to represent Paganism.

  • modernpoly

    All poly people are thin, attractive and under 45. There are no fat, ugly, or old poly people. Or gay poly men. It’s all straight dudes with cheesy haircuts and Hot Bi Babes. ”
    - We pointed that out in our own reviews of the show, and have had our own readers point out that they feel excluded because they don’t see people like them on screen.

    Two differences between Terisa Greenan’s “Family” series and “Polyamory: Married and Dating” (beyond the stuff invoking community reaction)
    1. “Family” was done independent of network sponsorship, so the director was able to create something with minimal outside influence. In order for “Polyamory: Married and Dating” to get sponsorship, they had to play by the network’s rules. From what I’ve heard in talking to cast members, the director worked hard to push for certain things, but ultimately it’s catering to the network and audience.2. The director/producer of “Family” is polyamorous herself and a part of the community. She came into the project knowing her stuff when it came to terminology and cultural nuances. The producer for “Polyamory: Married and Dating” isn’t, and needed to learn about polyamory through the show’s production. I would liken it to a straight person trying to produce a reality show about the LGBT community or a white person producing a show about the lives of those in an ethnic minority.If anything, we’re hoping that the show causes people to become -aware- of polyamory, and encourages others to come out of the closet to say “I’m polyamorous – here’s where I can relate to the show and here’s where I’m different than what’s on screen.”

  • Corc Hamr

    *blink* I’m a fan of Vampire Diaries, but that show’s infinitely snarkable. I’d be fine with someone wanting to snark it while I watched; I’d probably join in. I guess I just don’t understand the mindset. 

  • Star Foster

     I’ve interviewed Terisa Greenan on this blog before, so I understand the differences between her project of passion, and this cash cow. I still wished she’d gotten the financial support to both keep “Family” going and take it to the next level production-wise.

    I think the show is a bit trashy, but it’s fun trashy. Hopefully it will be a foot in the door for better shows to come.

  • Lamyka L.

    I don’t say this often but I’m actually really saddened and hurt by this ‘review’. In the beginning the show felt contrived but continuing to watch it I got my first ever taste of what my life should be like and isn’t.

    What’s written above is similar to the reaction against when ‘The L Word” came out, down to the ‘there’s too much sex’, ‘real lesbians are all shapes and economic levels’, or ‘real lesbians don’t act like that’. I recognize this is supposed to be funny and a good stab at the show. And I’m supposed to not expect this to be balanced since it’s opinion stuff but wow did this burn a hole in my heart.

    I watch this laaaate at night because I don’t want to be caught watching it, because I don’t want whatever is on the screen to be taken out of context. After watching the 5th episode my suspicion has been confirmed that they’re sliding into more serious topics.

    I had an epiphany last night watching the 5th episode: I now KNOW, a tiny bit, what it feels like for a LGBT person growing up in the heartland, a Pagan in fundie-land, etc. I’ve been blessed with so many things by being Hawaiian and living in Hawaii; I have never before realized what it means to feel the need to hide something about yourself or to feel so utterly alone in your beliefs that watching a show on tv makes you feel like you have friends or community out there somewhere.

    Maybe for me this review also hurts because being Poly should be a normal option in Hawaiian culture but that’s just one more thing that was stripped from us by American missionaries , and one more thing that American occupation/culture continues to strip from us like anti-gay legislations.

    When I see them talking about they’re feelings and working together, I don’t see sappy touchy-feely politics I see Hoʻoponopono, coming together to create Pono (right/righteous) space and understanding. When they speak I donʻt see whining, I see the need to Kāhea or to actualize into speech what needs to leave the mind so there can be Peace.

    Maybe what also hurts about this review is that people think it’s so easy for Poly people. I’m single. And because I’m Pagan that already cuts my prospective mates down, because I’m Pansexual/Bisexual there goes another huge chunk of prospective mates, because I’m Poly that cuts a severe percentage out of prospective mates–the chances of me finding loving partners are so slim now it feels like I’ll be alone forever without the joy of my own children as well.

    So maybe, just maybe, I watch the show and I think–damn! Well at least some of us made it.

  • Sage Blackthorn

    I have to agree with Star, I did find myself laughing quite a bit at the show. I live in Riverside, CA and I recognized quite a few of the locations shown. In particular the Cafe’ shown in the 2nd episode is Back To The Grind, about a block up University Ave. from where I work in Downtown Riverside. I thought that whole scene looked more than a little stage because there was hardly anyone else in the coffee house other than the 4 principle people, and a few of the staff. I’ve NEVER seen The Grind that empty before.  I hadn’t even known that anyone was doing a series here until I was flipping channels and happened to see “Polyamory” on Showtime and thought I’d see what it was about. Then saw “San Diego, CA” and “Riverside, CA” and got interested. I wanted to see just what they were showing of my town.  If it weren’t for recognizing a few of the spots they’ve filmed at, I wouldn’t be sure they were even filming in Riverside because so far everyone has looked just a little to….. idealized. I don’t know the folks they have on the show (not that I know everyone in this town),  but like Modernpoly mentioned, they really don’t look like the folks I see everyday. 

  • Sage Blackthorn

    P.S. Star, my beloved other half, Misty, says “Oh no, by all means, bring the snark for episode 6! I approve of your snark, it made me laugh.” :D

  • Star Foster

     I plan to watch ep. 6 so we will see. Maybe I can get some poly friends to watch with me so I can add their distinctive snark to my own.

  • Star Foster

     I don’t think anyone thinks being poly is easy. Poly isn’t all about sex, so the show shouldn’t be all about sex. It’s not prudishness, it’s a lack of reality. And the lack of diversity is a problem. It’s a valid complaint.

    I’ve never seen “The Real L Word” but from promo pics I can state that most lesbians I know don’t look like that.  I do know people and families that resemble the folks on “Sister Wives,” which is why I’m such a fan of the show.

  • Lamyka L.

    If you had seen only up to episode 4 I would have seen where you’re coming from but you’ve seen the latest episode, which does have so much more to it. I never said you or what you wrote somehow made it seem that being poly was easy or that you are being prudish about the show. How much diversity will make you feel better??

    Not every show can have every strata of ethnicity, class, economic standing etc. We should be glad that at least they picked two groups of stable, working, intelligent, and personable people. It’s not like the Pagan community even gets this close to a fair shake–we’re either the white new agey bubble brains or the white (again) overweight velvet cloak wearing wacko in walmart.

    The reason I even commented is because the above that you wrote goes beyond snark–some of this is just plain mean. There’s next to zero balance of  positivity in what you wrote! I don’t know what I’m more hurt about, the “snark” or the lack of balanced quality you give most of your pieces. I mean for Gods’ sake Star you gleefully stomped a show that is THE ONLY poly show that isn’t fiction!

  • Allyson Szabo

    I haven’t seen the show yet (I just don’t watch television that much), but I suppose I will at some point. I think one of the major things is that it’s prime time television. There has to be something entertaining about it. I mean, cameras would get pretty darn bored at our household, and we’re as poly as poly can be (three adults, two 6 year old twins-his and hers- two adult kids living on their own now but that grew up with us poly, and my almost 18 year old who lives elsewhere but knows I’m poly and all the various people involved). But we don’t have non-stop sex (we have twins… no one with twins has non-stop sex, trust me LOL). We don’t have a myriad of outside partners, for a wide variety of reasons (I have in the past had a single “out of our triad” lover but that was negotiated over a long period of time). We act like… well, like a normal family. We take kids to swim practice, cook bacon on the weekends, have a garden to supplement our household budget, etc etc etc. The only real difference is that hubby splits his time between my bed and hers, on a schedule we’ve come up with together. Just … seriously not prime time television stuff. 

    But it’s a foot in the door. At least it wasn’t like “toddlers and tiaras” for the poly set. My understanding is that while it’s racy, it isn’t really trashy. It shows that people spend time communicating, and that they do argue sometimes. That’s not bad for a first time reality show. Though I do prefer the Sister Wives outline… that makes more sense to me, and is more like what we do. :)

  • Star Foster

     Any diversity. At all. This show has none.

    I am mean. The fiction series was better. This isn’t “reality” by any stretch. If you don’t like my opinion, tough cookies.

  • Sage Blackthorn

    If you do, by all means I want to hear what they have to say. :D

  • Aidan Kelly

    Good, Star. I suppose that by now you would know that I would consider polyamory to be not just one option among many, such as deciding to eat Chinese or German, but an issue that can force us to confront what has been a fundamental flaw in the “design” of our whole Western civilization. Thank the Gods, perhaps thanks to the Gods, the fortress built around that flaw has been crumbling since the Enlightenment. I think of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, who openly lived together without the “benefits” of legal marriage in late nineteenth-century London, out of conscience, because Mary could see what marriage in those times did to women. 

    I’ve known several stable families with complex marriages; I can see that’s very different from open marriages. There have been two episodes of having a complex marriage in my life. One lasted only a few months; the second went through evolutions for about two years. Both fell apart because the people involved, including myself, just did not have interpersonal skills advanced to foresee or cope with the problems that arose. 

    A good part of the problem is that we had nothing like the family rules that the Mormons have evolved since the 1840s. One can see what those rules are from the wonderful series “Big Love” or on “Sister Wives”. I admire the courage that Cody and his wives have had in Coming Out to defend their beliefs, and showing that their marriage does not require them to be fundamentalist nutcases. 

    The legalizing of same-sex marriage is only the first step. I noticed a story recently about a child in California having the right to have more than two legal parents; need to follow that up. The goal should be ro have all forms of marriage or unmarriage be equally legal. The obsolete notion that lifelong heterosexual monogamy is the One True form of marriage has to shattered as completely as the notion that  monolithic Christianity is the Only True religion.  

    A concept I saw in a recent blog: the fortress is crumbling. The walls of his dungeon cell are collapsing. Jesus stands blinking in the sunlight, like Lazarus, wondering what to do now. That might be the start of another novel. I can now see documentary clues that he would have, and perhaps did, totally approve of polyamory. 

  • Jason Mankey

    Star, your comments are right on target.  I nearly fell out of my seat at the “fresh meat” comment.  That phrase, even if it was meant as a joke, summed up all that’s often wrong in the poly community.  Instead of being about love, what was conveyed to the viewer was “this is all about sex.”  Since we don’t know exactly what’s going on behind the scenes (the director and editors really decided the story, not the participants) perhaps it was taken completely out of context, who knows?  I just know that it made me immediately uncomfortable.  

    When you made this point “When you throw a party for someone, you totally invite the one person that makes them uncomfortable. And make them feel bad about not wanting to see the person their lover was sneaking around with. Just because the party is about them, doesn’t mean it’s about them,” I felt as if you had snuck into my house and watched this show with my wife and I, just spot on.  

    Please continue the snark, this show badly needs it.   

  • bbqcornnuts

    I am so glad I found this. I cannot get over the amount of emotional manipulation that is going on in this show. It’s really quite disturbing – the way Jen constantly gets manipulated by her pod. I’ve watched every episode (I can’t look away) and I find that really disturbing.

    Also, seriously, who is this good looking? 

  • Dcparis

    Funny how many of us who would be open to poly find it hard enough to find just one person to be with. Maybe we take the whole thing too seriously and set our criteria so strict as to make it impossible?

  • bbqcornnuts

    We are talking about this show over on Crasstalk. I am going to post a link to this review. Come by and say hi if you’d like. 

  • thalassa

    Downton Abbey FTW!