Resource – Media Portrayals of Non-Monogamy

Posted On: April 5, 2021

I’ve pulled together a resource list for you – media portrayals of non-monogamy i.e. movies/ TV series. I believe that the lack of non-monogamy portrayals makes people assume that the monogamous relationship model is the only one that exists. For a long time, the non-monogamy model is actually the one that is commonplace.

When I respect people of different values including those who choose to be monogamous, it is important as a sexuality educator to be also providing information for people who seek to be informed of what else is there. Media portrayals can be sexuality education in their own right and can be a starting point for reframing the lenses in which we view the world.

1. Polyamory: Married & Dating  (TV Series (2012– )

This provocative reality series takes an inside look at polyamory: non-monogamous, committed relationships that involve more than two people. Lindsey and Anthony are married, but live in a triad with their girlfriend, Vanessa. Husband and wife Michael and Kamala have a special relationship with couple Jen and Tahl, among others. This explicit look at the ins and outs of modern-day polyamory follows characters grappling with the emotional and sexual drama of sharing their hearts, as well as their beds.

Polyamory: Married & Dating Poster
2. 5 to 7 (2014)

A young writer (Anton Yelchin) begins an affair with an older woman (Bérénice Marlohe) from France whose open marriage to a diplomat (Lambert Wilson) dictates that they can meet only between the hours of 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

3. Savages (2012)

California entrepreneurs Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch) run a lucrative business raising marijuana and share a one-of-a-kind love with beautiful O (Blake Lively). Life in Laguna Beach is idyllic for them, until Elena (Salma Hayek), the merciless leader of the Mexican Baja Cartel, moves in and demands a piece of the action. However, Elena underestimates the trio’s unbreakable bond, and with the help of a shady DEA agent (John Travolta), Ben, Chon and O go to war.

4. (2010)

A bisexual man (Devid Striesow) has affairs with both members (Sophie Rois, Sebastian Schipper) of a longtime couple who have lost their sexual spark.

5. Sister Wives TV Series (2010– )

Kody Brown, with his four wives Meri, Janelle, Robyn and Christine and their combined 17 children, attempt to navigate life as a “normal” family in a society that shuns their lifestyle. From their unconventional family structure and living arrangements to financial challenges, each half hour episode exposes the inner workings of a polygamist household, revealing the unexpectedly tight-knit and loving relationships between Kody’s wives. The series also captures the intense dynamics surrounding a man juggling three wives while attempting to keep it a secret from the outside world- but the general public is not the only challenge that the Brown family unit is facing.

6. The Freebie (2010)

Annie (Katie Aselton) and Darren (Dax Shepard) are best friends who’ve been married for about seven years now and their palpable chemistry has a natural synchronicity. They’ve developed a life full of routines: getting lattes together at the local coffee shop, going for runs in the mountains overlooking L.A., and attending dinner parties with their friends. There’s an honesty in their relationship which brings them to admit that their sex life isn’t exactly, as Annie puts it, “what it once was….or what it could be”.  During some hypothetical and philosophical pillow talk, they come to solution to their rut, in hopes of reawakening their lost libido.

For just one night, they agree to go their separate ways and seek out a “freebie”, someone to have sex with. The only rule they come up with is that neither of them are to discuss the details of their evenings. With an agreement like this, it’s obvious that feelings of doubt, guilt, and mistrust are bound to surface. How the two deal with their decision and whether or not they follow through with an act that is bound to damage their firm union, makes for a captivating study on the one night stand.

7. Four Lovers (2010)

What are adult love affairs ? Two couples meet and fall in love, lose sight of each other in the confusion and end up pulling through. This is a movie about two married couples who decide to share each other’s mates. There is little fascinating about them before they decide this, and still less after, because when it comes right down to it, looking at a lot of sex is not nearly as much fun as having it.

8. Drama (2010)

Three theater students, influenced by a professor and French theorist Antonin Artaud’s acting technique, begin to experiment with their own lives, searching for real emotions and situations to bring onto the stage. Their obsession with becoming better actors leads them to their darkest sides, surpassing boundaries that neither they nor their teachers could ever imagine.

9. Dare (2009)

A drama centered around three high school seniors – an aspiring actress, her misfit best friend, and a loner – who become engaged in an intimate and complicated relationship. Sexual experimentation links the lives of three high-school drama students (Emmy Rossum, Zach Gilford, Ashley Springer).

10. Breaking Upwards (2009)

Follows a young New York couple who, after four years together, have grown stifled. Desperate to escape their ennui, but fearful of life apart, they decide to intricately strategize their own break up. Daryl and Zoe create a maze of rules and boundaries, hoping they can avoid the pain of separation

11. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

Americans Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) arrive in Spain for a summer vacation at a friend’s (Patricia Clarkson) Barcelona home. Visiting an art gallery, they meet seductive painter Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), who invites them for a weekend of food, art and sex. Sparks really ignite when his fiery former lover (Penélope Cruz) arrives on the scene, making for a very crowded house.


12. Fling (2008)

An attractive young couple’s open relationship is stretched to the breaking point when each partner finds themselves falling in love with other people.


13. Family TV Series (2008–2009)

The series follows Gemma, Ben and Stuart, living together in a polyamorous triad. Each series follows a chosen family, consisting of parents and their children. The project aim was to gain a picture of everyday family life in the United Kingdom, as film-maker and director Jonathan Smith attempted to “condense four months of ordinary family life into eight films”

14. Women in Love (2007)

Award winning filmmaker Karen Everett gives us a no-holds-barred look at her sexually charged love life by revealing every juicy detail. While examining the human ability to redefine ourselves and reshape what we think “love” means, Everett masterfully weaves images of lesbians making their way through present-day sex clubs and attending masturbation seminars. Drawing on her own experience and that of her circle of lesbian, bisexual and polyamorous friends and lovers, Everett blends her own personal trials with intimate, raw and emotional moments of sexual pleasure and heart-wrenching loneliness.

15. Shortbus (2006)

Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee) is a couples therapist who is unable to climax despite the ministrations of her loving husband. Gay couple James (Paul Dawson) and Jamie (PJ DeBoy) decide to open the doors of their relationship by inviting in a third partner. All three attend a mixer in which partygoers partake of a sexual banquet.

16. Kiss Me Again (2006)

A married couple decides to test the boundaries of their relationship with a seductive Spanish woman. When an unlikely relationship ensues, all three are forced to rethink their definition of love.

17. Big Love TV Series (2006–2011)

Utah businessman, Bill Paxton, is busy with his expanding home improvement business. But, what takes more of his time are his three wives. The show takes a look at polygamy and how the institution of marriage has been evolving all the while.

18. These Girls (2005)

During their summer between high school and college, three girls blackmail a slightly older hunk into having sex with them. Three girls seduce an older man and make a pact to “share” him, to hilarious consequences. Their scheme works out well for a while, but eventually all good things must come to an end.
19. Wild Sex TV Series (2005– )

Wild Sex tells the amazing stories and bizarre behaviors that lie behind this universal urge and shows the extraordinary strategies animals use to ensure success in the highly competitive world of sex. For humans, sex is for pleasure, for the continuation of generations, and has served evolutionary purposes. Males and females of the animal world are out for their own benefit. They rely on peculiar sexual strategies to achieve their goals with the risk of violence or death often not very far away. Animals have to find a way around conflict, and seek to satisfy their need to procreate in any way they can. Homosexuality, incest, hermaphrodite sex orgies, and necrophilia, you name it – animals do it. Each episode explores a different aspect of sexual behavior, from the belligerence of the dominant male and the cunning strategies of the female, to the concepts of group sex and sexual advertising. Wild Sex combines accurate science and informative images to deconstruct and explain the strategies and behaviors used in sex. It reveals the strange but true facts behind animal reproduction.

 

20. Wild Side (2004)

In Paris, the thirty-two years old travesty Stéphanie a.k.a. Pierre is a streetwalker that lives with the Egyptian gay hustler Djamel and the Russian gay Mikhail that works in a restaurant. When the hospital where her mother Liliane is terminal calls her, she travels with her two lovers to the countryside to look after her dying mother. While at home, she recalls her childhood and how she met Djamel and Mikhail.

21. Three of Hearts: A Postmodern Family (2004)

In his early twenties, Sam Cagnina, oldest son of a Mafia hit man, meets Steven, a handsome 19-year old college student and they fall in love. Then, after a few years Sam offers Steven a “visionary” idea. What if they could find a woman who would fall in love with both of them and agree to live in a “trio” relationship? They spend the next 7 years dating and looking for that special woman. Finally, they meet Samantha, a young, struggling actress. THREE OF HEARTS explores this very unique trio union as they negotiate their living arangements, fall in love and open one of the hottest wellness centres in New York City. Everyone who comes in contact with them is never quite sure how the relationship works. But the one thing which seems certain is their love for each other.

22. A Home at the End of the World (2004)

A boy who has experienced many losses in his life grows to manhood and enters into a love triangle with a woman and his boyhood friend.

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Hours” comes a story that chronicles a dozen years in the lives of two best friends who couldn’t be more different. From suburban Cleveland in the 60s, to New York City in the 80s, where they meet an older woman, the film charts a journey of trials, triumphs, loves and losses. Now the question is: can they navigate the unusual triangle they’ve created and hold their friendship together?

23. Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (TV Series (2003–2010)

Using a combination of set ups, descriptions, rants and film of practitioners, Penn & Teller show the bullshit that’s everywhere. The initial show covers mediums or Talkers to the Dead. Penn Jillette explains in the first program that while calling someone a liar or a con man is actionable, “bullshit” is safe. Each show has a topic such as Mediums, Feng Shui, Medical devices or Penis Enlargement. Using humor and experts, they debunk the bullshit.

Books:

  1. Resources on Navigating Open Relationships
  2. Book Review: Designer Relationships

I provide relationship and sexuality counseling. Contact me here.

About Dr. Martha Tara Lee

Surrounded by friends who were sexually inhibited and struck by dire lack of positive conversations around sex and sexuality in Singapore, Dr. Martha Tara Lee set out to make a positive difference in embarking on her doctorate in human sexuality before launching Eros Coaching in 2009. Today, she remains dedicated to working with individuals and couples who wish to lead self-actualised and pleasure-filled lives.

She also holds certificates in counselling, coaching and sex therapy, and her fourth degree – a Masters in Counselling in May 2018. In practice for more than 10 years, she is the only certified sexuality educator and certified sexuality educator supervisor by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) in Singapore.

Often cited in the local media, Dr. Lee is the appointed sex expert for Men’s Health Singapore, and Men’s Health Malaysia. She was recognised as one of ‘Top 50 Inspiring Women Under 40′ by Her World in July 2010, and one of ‘Top 100 Inspiring Women’ by CozyCot in March 2011. She has published four books: Love, Sex and Everything In-BetweenOrgasmic YogaFrom Princess to Queen and {Un}Inhibited.

Martha works with individuals and couples in private coaching sessions, and conducts her own workshops. She takes prides in making sure all her workshops are also fun, educational, and sex-positive. This comes easily to her because even though she is extremely dedicated and serious about her work, she fundamentally believes that sex is meant to be fun, wonderful, amazing and sacred. As such, this serious light-heartedness has shone through again and again. For her full profile, click here. Email her here.

         
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