You probably don’t realise that non-monogamy is rife in TV dramas. Unfortunately, it’s the unethical kind (also known as cheating). When it comes to ethical non-monogamy and polyamory, it’s rare to discover a TV show that reflects and affirms these relationship experiences. In the past few years, there’s been a range of new shows about polyamory, as production companies realise that everyone (including monogamous people) is fascinated by open relationships. Positive depictions of loving, committed partnerships that aren’t monocentric are hard to come by, but they do exist.
So far, the storylines are often obsessed with closed triads (cringingly referred to as a ‘throuple’), but I’m always left wondering why they stop at three. Why not write about a whole polycule (a network of interconnecting relationships)? More characters, more storylines, more love, more drama. Imagine if Friends was a polycule filled with current and former lovers, metamours and pals.
Not all TV shows are fictional either. Polyamory: Married & Dating was a reality series on Showtime from 2012-13. I’ve never watched it, but it does star the amazing KamalaDevi McClure, whose interview I enjoyed on episode 118 of the Normalising Non-Monogamypodcast.
However, I would steer clear of most other reality TV shows that feature polyamorous relationships as they usually take a scandalous angle that makes non-monogamy seem like a freak show. Instead, I recommend watching these shows. Some have healthy dynamics and happy endings, others not so much. But I suppose that’s real life, huh?
My flatmate and I were so overwhelmed with emotion that we had to hold each other as the credits rolled on the final episode of Trigonometry. This understated drama series is a masterclass in how to handle polyamory onscreen. There are no showy, steamy, objectifying sex scenes or overly-dramatic coming-out moments.
It’s tender and believable, with fully developed characters who aren’t perfect. They make mistakes but keep trying. I’m crossing my fingers that we get a second season with Gemma, Kieran and Ray, as their beautiful love story melts my heart.
Watch Trigonometry on BBC iPlayer, HBO Max and most paid streaming platforms
I discovered this web series after hearing the cast interviewed on the Multiamory podcast (episode 313). The story follows a married couple, Keena and Joshua, as they transition from monogamy into polyamory. There are two seasons for this show, between which there was a large gap due to fundraising issues.
The show is interesting yet easy to watch, with each episode running for around 20 minutes. As this isn’t a show produced by a studio, the script and editing can be a little cheesy in places. However, it is still worth trying, and I hope they get the chance to make a third season in the coming years.
How could I not love Nola Darling – self-described “sex-positive, polyamorous pansexual.” Although, I should point out that her commitment-phobic narrative in season one doesn’t exactly qualify as polyamory. Perhaps she just hasn’t found any partners with whom she would want to have relationships?
Either way, she’s a queer solo polyam icon for me. Recommend giving the first season of this empowering show a try if someone has just broken your heart. Nola Darling will teach you to remember that the most significant relationship you can ever have is with yourself.
I’ll watch anything with Toni Collette, Steven Macintosh or Zawe Ashton. So to have all three of them in this one show was a real treat for me. I felt like this was a very realistic depiction of a married couple (Collette and Macintosh) opening up their relationship because together, they’ve lost their sexual spark. Their story is packed with the excitement of new discoveries and the pain of stumbling into unexpected dynamics.
We also see their children’s relationships as they stumble in and out of love. This show doesn’t glamourise non-monogamy in any way, especially as the lead characters are both well into middle age, but that’s what made me love it more.
I discovered this show when I was searching for polyamory GIFs one day. A clip popped of Dyonte explaining to Malika that his relationship wasn’t just open, and I was instantly Googling Good Trouble. It has become a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, mixing the right amounts of wholesomeness, wokeness and melodrama to keep me coming back for more.
If you’re only interested in seeing the polyamory storyline, feel free to skip to season 3. It’s great to see Malika, who has had it pretty tough during the first two seasons, begin to have some fun. She goes through the difficult transition of admitting to herself that she wants to give polyamory a try and even learns about metamours. Good Trouble was probably the most realistic TV show about polyamory I’ve seen to date – plus, it’s fun to watch, so I recommend giving it a try.
Of all the shows about polyamory, this one does make my eyes roll – but considering I’ve watched all five seasons, I must admit it’s ok. Yes, we have another FFM closed triad here, but this show is going for more of a North American rom-com angle, so it can be hella cheesy at times.
My main issue with the show is that I don’t find Greg Poehler (brother of the awesome Amy Poehler) as a suitable romantic lead, especially for a show like this. He looks like a suburban dad, so I struggle to suspend my disbelief that he would score not one but two hot partners. Judginess aside, this series does showcase the pitfalls of a monogamous couple trying to suddenly expand their dynamic to include a third in a very mononormative world.
As any L Word fan would know, Shane is the character you would expect to be polyamorous. Yet, in this reboot of the hit noughties lesbian TV show, Shane turns up married and super monogamous. Instead, it’s my all-time favourite character Alice who has a go at a triad relationship in season one of Generation Q.
I must admit, their storyline is one wrong move after another and I spent most of the time cringing – especially that awful last scene. What was that all about? However, I love this show, and I adore Alice (who has had one hell of glow-up), so there was no way I could make a list of shows about polyamory without including this gem. Let’s hope the screenwriters get much more pro-polyamory with the characters in future seasons.
Yes, season two showcases yet another triad relationship, but finally, it’s an MMF dynamic! With a woman in her 70s! How refreshing. In fact, this show has an incredible line-up of women over 45: Bette Midler and Jessica Lange are campy as all hell, and even Gwyneth Paltrow manages not to be annoying.
Polyamory is used more as a plot device in this clever comedy rather than being explored in any meaningful sense. But still, it’s fun to see non-monogamy become so normalised that it isn’t the butt of every joke, or worse, demonised. I mean, season two, episode two is called Conscious Unthroupling, which is funny on its own and hilarious considering Gwyneth is in the show.