“Strange arrangements” on 20/20

Despite its ominous title of "The New Sex: Strange Arrangements," last Friday's episode of 20/20 included a pretty reasonable 7-minute segment on a poly network. One of the interviewees was Sierra Black, a woman who has written several wonderful articles about parenting in an open marriage, for sites such as Salon and Babble.

You can watch the episode on ABC's site or on Hulu, and ABC's article about the open relationship segment is a fairly direct reflection of the segment.

The interviewees do a great job of dispelling the myths that are thrown at them, like that they're committing adultery and must have jealousy issues. And although the interviewer, Elizabeth Vargas, calls their open relationship a "marital merry-go-round" that's "a tad kooky," the tone of the segment is not especially judgmental -- and generally allows the folks speak for themselves. Especially touching was the moment when Vargas spoke to one of Sierra's daughters:

You might think Sierra and Martin's daughters think their parents' arrangement is unusual, but when "20/20" anchor Elizabeth Vargas asked their daughter, Rio, if she thought her family was different from other families, she replied, "Not really."

Rio's definition of an open marriage was fairly precise, for a 7-year-old: "Your parent or one of your parents is dating a different person that's not part of your family," she said.

Black was content with the outcome of the interview, writing on her blog:

I did this because I wanted to give mainstream America a peek at a healthy, happy, thriving circle of poly families. It's my hope that we’ve done just that, and that this is a step toward a future where news shows won't want to do segments on how "kooky" polyamory is, because it's just a thing some people do. I am fairly confident positive portrayals on TV can make a difference, and I'm grateful to ABC for their approach in this one.

A polyfi triad on ABC’s “Private Practice”

Thursday's season premiere of ABC's "Private Practice," a medical drama that chronicles the lives of a group of doctors and patients, contained a surprisingly sympathetic poly-oriented subplot! Alongside other subplots, there's a polyfi triad -- two women and a man -- who want to have a child together, and the doctors assist them in their journey.

Alan M. describes the poly subplot in full:

In comes a nice, seemingly conventional lesbian couple, Kendra and Rose, to interview with the fertility specialist. They've been together six years and want a child -- one woman will be the egg donor, the other will bear the baby. Also along for the interview is the intended sperm donor, Evan . . . When the counselor advises the women that they need to have him sign away parental rights, they balk, and the truth comes out: they're not actually conventional at all.

"We're all in love," they reveal, holding hands.

"We know it sounds crazy—"

As they're explaining: "That first night was amazing. And, so was the next morning. And, every morning after that. Most mornings."

. . . The docs in the practice discuss it among themselves. "A what?" "A polyamorous triad." They debate. "...That's the same argument that said interracial and same-sex couples shouldn't have children." The docs come to agreement: they will do the egg fertilization and implant, as the three wish.

But this is a TV drama, right? An ultrasound reveals a problem.

Read the rest of Alan M.'s account to find out how the storyline resolves itself. Or better yet, check out the 43-minute episode on ABC's website or on Hulu.