NBC Puffs ‘One Big, Happy (Poly) Family’

Relationships redefined once again by big media.

Hey, in these days of same-sex marriage, why not? That, at least, seems to be NBC’s thinking.

NBC.com published a video report entitled “True Believers: One Big, Happy (Poly) Family” June 11 where one reporter followed a, “polyamorous family on living with multiple partners, without sacrificing the comforts of home.” The group of five adults and one 9-year-old girl insisted on normalcy (“we’re not doing anything freaky”) as the network spent over two days with them. 

To explain the relationship web, the reporter introduced the five adults, two of whom are married and each sleep with a different unmarried person – plus an extra man who dates/sleeps with the woman who dates/sleeps with the married man. Or, as 9-year-old Ashley explained it: “there’s two dads, one mom, and one person dating another person.” 

Although she appeared to have no qualms, the reporter voiced, “How is this not awkward?”

To continue her report, she asked questions like, “How do you work out who is sleeping where on what night?” and “What is being a poly?” Melissa, Ashley’s mother, defined the word as, “More laundry” while her husband Billy answered, “it’s being open to the idea that you don’t have to have just that one. That you can accept more people into your life.” 

Throughout the report, the NBC camera focused on normal family activities: driving, texting, kissing, playing video games, drawing pictures, walking in the yard -- even attending taekwondo classes. 

In fact, the group almost sounded like a normal relationship would as the reporter described, “We saw that managing multiple partners means a lot of communication” and Billy told, “we learn how to navigate through emotional difficulties and learn how to communicate with one another. It’s just behind sexual.” 

He tried to clarify further: “Polyamory is not all about the sex, but sometimes it is.”

Located in Atlanta, Billy conducts monthly poly community meetings where he discusses how, "“my poly is not your poly and that’s okay, because we all do poly different, right?” Monogamy, he said, “doesn’t work for every single person or else there wouldn’t be groups like this.”

“Being poly comes at a cost,” the reporter noted. Although, in Atlanta, there are over 900 in the poly community, and, she cited, a University of Michigan study says “nearly 5% of straight Americans are in open relationships.” That doesn’t help the fact that polyamory is illegal in 21 states – including Georgia. “You may not think that you know any polyamorous families, but you know the saying ‘you never really know what happens behind closed doors’,” she hyped.

And, as the NBC reporter highlighted, there is jealously. “What do you guys fight about, when you fight?” she asked. Melissa admitted how she had to enter Billy’s room for keys and found him sleeping naked with Lindsey. Billy described the incident as “emotional stirring.”

When the reporter noted “even some of their own family have cut ties,” Melissa told of how her son “left home and never came back” – blaming the incident on him being a teenager.

The report concluded as Jeremy, who dates Melissa, concluded, “We’re just people. We’re just – we have jobs, we live our lives and we’re not doing anything freaky or weird, we’re just here.”

Polyamory is the media’s new fascination, from boasting a plug from The Atlantic and appearing in apps to making an ABC report: the “Gospel of Polyamory.”

— Katie Yoder is Staff Writer, Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture and Media at the Media Research Center. Follow Katie Yoder on Twitter.