Just as the concept of polyamory is many things to many people, so is Showtime's current series Polyamory: Married & Dating. It's alternately hilarious, shocking, poignant, titillating and cringe-inducing. But it's also important.
Polyamory and the range of ways it can manifest itself in its practicing groups, and then still, what it means to each person inside these groups, is not an easy thing to telegraph. This show lays it out as carefully as possible in its profiling of two multi-person committed relationships. It works not just as the freak show that we've come to expect from reality TV, but also on a political level. The slippery slope anti-equality argument stating that if gays are allowed to marry, then soon we'll have to allow multiple partners to as well, is bullshit not just for side-stepping the issue – if you believe in the fundamental principle of sexual equality, that it doesn't matter what people do in their bedrooms as long as they aren't hurting others, there is no legitimate ethical argument against the kind of configurations you see presented on Polyamory. If you don't want polyamory, stay out of a triad. Simple.
The "mind your own business" mindset gets complicated when those involved make their private lives public. But then, the lives portrayed here are perfectly suited for the format. Reality TV typically forces its participants to examine themselves closely. In extreme cases, those on screen are deprived of outside stimulation so that their focus turns to the social politics of their living situation. At the very least, those on reality TV are made to sit through marathon interviews picking apart the nuances of their behavior and its motivation. Never have I seen a situation that naturally fits this format as well as that of Showtime's currently airing . As Tahl explains in the video above, "Jen and I have our rules. Mike and Kamala have their rules, but now not only are you just bringing two couples together – it's a four-way dynamic. And so, it makes it more complicated." With their intricate configuration, these people would have to openly and routinely examine their and their partners' emotional situations, with or without cameras pointed at them. The show was already going on.
The emotional articulation of the four described people makes for riveting viewing – not since the early days of The Real World have I been so obsessed with watching people sit around and babble about themselves and their lives, nor have I so deeply lamented that they only do it for 30 minutes once a week. Their self-consumption is infectious. ...
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