Warning: Contains Season 1 Spoilers
You Me Her is a new show that tackles one couple’s stumble into a polyamorous relationship. Polyamorous people are thrilled to finally have a show focused on a triad rather than another love triangle. However, there are so many problems with the show that it might not be the best introduction to polyamory- unless you use it as a tool to learn what not to do.
Most couples make many mistakes when they start polyamory and architect Emma and Counselor Jack from Portland are no different. The show opens on them at a doctor’s office and the therapist asks about how often they have sex as they are trying to get pregnant. They are obviously having a dry spell. One of Jack’s friends recommends an escort to spice up their marriage and Jack meets Izzy. Then Jack comes clean to Emma and Emma meets Izzy as well.
One of the problems people report with polyamory is that it is for rich, white people. You Me Her only reinforces this conception. Jack and Emma live in a rich, white suburb and are obviously well off. Izzy is a student and is a little less well off, but Jack and Emma are willing to pay quite the price for her services. Jack and Emma throw their money around in attempts to control Izzy. Basically, the stereotype that polyamory is for rich, white people is very much confirmed by You Me Her.
Unicorn hunters are a couple looking for a bisexual woman (sometimes a man), unicorn, to join their relationship. Unicorn hunting can be done ethically but couples new to polyamory usually are selfish, insensitive, and unfair. They often expect the new addition to their relationship to always be second best, to fix their relationship, and to fall for both of them at the same rate. Jack and Emma are these unethical unicorn hunters- to a T.
Jack and Emma talk about their triad without Izzy almost exclusively, treat her as an object and only occasionally remember she is not, and make decisions about their relationship without Izzy. Izzy puts herself out there again and again, but Jack and Emma lead her on only to discard her harshly later. Jack and Emma are so profoundly terrible to Izzy that she gives up on school and is ready to move back to Colorado. Izzy is no way without blame, but she isn’t actively hurting Jack and Emma like they are to her throughout the first season.
You Me Her is a wonderful example of what not to do for unicorn hunters. Izzy is a great example of the hurt that can happen when unicorns get treated poorly and when unicorn hunting goes wrong. However, I worry that their unethical behavior is being romanticized rather than criticized.
Another theme that seems to prevail throughout the story is selfishness and being self-absorbed. Even the title sequence has “ME” large and in the middle while “YOU” and “HER” are smaller and being pushed out of the way.
Their triad starts out as cheating- from both Emma and Jack. Polyamory is not cheating, but You Me Her blurs the line between cheating and polyamory that confuses too many people.
After one particularly frustrating scene where Izzy feels rejected, and rightfully so, Emma suggests minutes after Izzy has left sobbing that Emma and Jack should have a baby. Jack tries to shut down the relationship even though Emma and Izzy are happy. Izzy uses a guy who really likes her, Andy, only to make Jack and Emma jealous.
While the characters are charming and there are a few adorable scenes, I was left with the feeling that Jack, Emma, and Izzy have a hard time seeing past their selves. I feel that is already a misconception about polyamory- that we are all selfish and using each other. However, the least selfish people I know are polyamorous. The majority of us care about other’s feelings and try to be better people. Only a bad few of us don’t learn from our mistakes and continue to use people. I am curious to find out if that will be the case for Jack, Emma, and Izzy.
There isn’t a single issue within the triad that couldn’t be solved by them all sitting down together and communicating what they feel. Instead, they guess and mislead each other. This is too often true of other issues people run into in polyamory; they just need to be talked through.
So is You Me Her a good representation of polyamory? Not exactly. However, it is a good representation of the mistakes that people new to polyamory make when they take it on on their own. What is sad is that there are so many resources to avoid the mistakes the triad in You Me Her made- especially in Portland which has a large, active polyamorous community.