Things I Learned from the Reality TV Show Polyamory: Married & Dating

showtime tv polyamory review

A Review of Showtime’s Polyamory: Married & Dating

Sometimes I wonder how or why my friends put up with me.

For instance, one of them has Showtime on Demand and for the past couple of weeks I have been going over to his house and binge-watching the crap about of Polyamory: Married & Dating until we finally finished the second season a few nights ago.

I don’t know what kept us going, except perhaps our mutual hatred for the show.

It came out in 2012 & 2013 so I get that I’m way behind the times but that’s what I get for not having Showtime (I also have missed out on The Knick, but that’s a different story for a different day).

Here’s what I’ve been saying for the longest time regarding monogamy v. polyamory–who cares they both suck and they’re both wonderful for their own reasons.     

I’ve had plenty of media exposure to monogamous structures that have made me want to not be monogamous, but this was the first time I got to watch a show that made me feel real turned off by the idea of polyamory too.

Yay?!?

I don’t know.

Showtime seemed to be trying too hard to make it sexy.  It was also pretty heteronormative (and white and middle class). Two male/female married couples living and playing together in a pod, and two triads both with one male and two females. In other words they could all pass as monogamous if they wanted to.  

That was the other thing that bothered me about the show. There was so much monogamy-shaming. Like, one of the beautiful elements of polyamory is the idea that you can create your own script, that you can form relationships how you want to–not how society attempts to define you–and yet many of these people seemed to think that showing even the slightest bit of monogamous behavior was BAD.

Or they would use monogamy-shaming to get what they wanted, for example, Michael basically manipulated Kamala into sharing her girlfriend to prove she was still poly (a reoccuring theme).

Time out.

When you’re poly you can have relationships with people without those people having relationships with other people you’re having relationships with. The guy clearly just wanted to have a threesome with two attractive women.

Which brings me to my next point. The women seemed to actually desire deep emotional connections with multiple people while the men seemed to desire straight up sex with as many people as they could get. The truth is that both ways are fine–if those ways are understood, but they never quite seemed to get there.

Now, I don’t know if some of these situations actually unfolded as we were shown or if the editors cut them a particular way to add more drama/suspense, but I do know that regardless it brought up two major things regarding human behavior that I found fascinating. Not only that, but it made me reflect upon my own life and examine how often I do similar things.

The Two Human Behaviors I Learned From Polyamory: Married & Dating

  1. People hear the things they want to hear not the things people actually say

My friend and I basically spent every episode yelling at the TV– “that’s NOT what he/she said.” We probably did this a million times. It was crazy how you’d listen to two people talk to each other and then later they’d make up sentences totally contradictory to the words you heard before.

Example:

Person 1:

I do not want you to go on a date with my girlfriend. If you’d like to have tea and chat I think that would be nice.

Person 2 [Later]: I can’t wait to go on my date with Person 1’s girlfriend, I hope we get to snuggle!

Ugh.

This show made me want to become a better listener. So, at least something was gained.

2. People will convince themselves of the most bullshit of bullshit when they’re trying to accept their own bad behavior (or the bad behavior of someone they love)

Example:

Kamala gives her new love interest a bj without her husband’s consent when they explicitly discussed how the two would not have sex until there was a verbal agreement regarding that activity. Her husband walks in on them while the blow job is happening and then Kamala pulls a Bill Clinton claiming they had not defined “what sex is,” –which came as quite a shock to me hearing that from a licensed sex therapist who clearly knows better.

I don’t even want to get started on the Tahl / Jen relationship; I will say this, he acted quite weasley and often found himself caught in a lie of his own doing and I wish she would have gotten out of that sooner.

But that’s the thing. We put up with a lot of bullshit when we’re in love with someone else. What polyamory should be teaching everyone regardless of their relationship structure choices is that COMMUNICATION is of utmost importance.

Sure, it might be painful to say the things you need to say and it might hurt even more to hear the things you don’t want to hear, but we’re talking about healthy relationships here.

Healthy. Relationships.

No matter what you choose, monogamy, polyamory, asexual hermit cave-living, single and slutty-in-the-city living, etc. it all comes down to knowing what you want and establishing the boundaries you need to make your relationships healthy.

Aka communication.

May we all find our words and our ears.

Another shout out to my friend for putting up with my bullshit and watching this show with me.

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Read more about Polyamory with the book More Than Two.