Friday, January 18, 2013

Well That's Interesting: Poly Relationship In American Horror Story, Promoting Awareness or Just Attention Getting Taboo?

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I must warn you that this article will be a bit spoiler-y, as much as I hate spoilers they're kind-of necessary to fully understand how the show handled the touchy topic of polyamory, but not only polyamory, interracial polyamory in the 1960's! I would recommend not reading if you have not seen the most recent episode Continuum which aired 1/16 on FX.

     Lets begin with some background, I'll try to go quickly but there's quite a bit and it won't make sence without it. One of the many stories in this season of American Horror Story follows Kit Walker who was newly married to his African American  bride Alma (in the 1960's mind you) as the show begins. In the first episode they are both taken by aliens (I know, aliens, seriously right? yes, it is as cheesy as it sounds, but the rest of the show is awesome so I ignore the aliens) after which he is returned and she is not. With his now suspiciously missing wife Kit is institutionalized as in Briarcliff because he is assumed to be Bloody Face, the serial killer who has been plaguing Massachusetts. While in Briarcliff he falls in love with Grace, who the aliens promptly take as well. Luckily she is returned to him, impregnated with his baby and they manage to get out of Briarcliff, with a bouncing baby boy and plan to start their life together, only to return to his house and find Alma, returned by the aliens and holding Kit's baby girl.
     Continuum begins some time after they find Alma in their house and shows that the family has adapted to include Kit, Alma, Grace, and both of their children. Although it only shows their life together for a short time it hits on many key points. The appear to have been happy for a long time, talking about all loving one another, but tensions are rising between Alma and Grace. They are not jealous over Kit, quite the contrary, when one is upset the other often tells Kit to go to her, to try to help. Instead they begin to argue because they each process the trauma of the alien abduction differently, Alma wants to forget it all while Grace credits the aliens with the birth and life of her child and views them almost as saviors, she wants to remember and chronicle the events for her children.
     I'd like to believe that the creators of American Horror Story: Asylum saw this as an oportunity to show a successful polyamorous family, they even show the struggles they encounter with the outside world. When they are the victims of an attempted hate crime the police makes no effort to help them, stating that "polyamory is against the law in Massachusetts." Unfortunately I feel that showing another family was just an attempt to be more outrageous in a show already known for explicit scenes of sexuality and violence. When things go wrong, as they inevitably always do in this show, I understand that it was because of differences between people, not because polyamory is wrong and it is impossible to love more than one person, but I worry that the rest of the general public may not see it that way. Kudos to American Horror Story for including a polyamorous relationship in your most recent episode, and even more so for making it so believable and natural. Unfortunately I worry that it might just come across as another media gimmick just like Sister Wives and other shows that make poly lifestyles into something "weird" and filled with drama for the rest of the world to ogle at like some circus side show act.

     As a side note: If you have not watched any American Horror Story you really should, the first and second seasons are two totally different stories but both are fantastic. The first is a straight up ghost story/haunted house while the second season (Asylum) is a little more complex. An abusive-church run asylum, monsters, experiments, demonic possession, serial killers and aliens! Oh My! The second season is quite a bit more gruesome but that is just the nature of the topics. The characters are elaborate and detailed, the story is gripping, the sex is sexy and just a little bit scary, the acting is phenomonal (I love you Jessica Lange) and if the second season is anything like the first it wraps everything up nicely leaving you feeling content with the ending. Go watch it, season 1 is on netflix (I think).

1 comment:

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