Category: Poly Interpretations

A few things about William Moulton Marston

Hi everyone,

My media consumption in general has been rather low lately, and even the things I’ve intended to write about I haven’t had time. But you didn’t come here for my apologies or excuses, you came here for some reflections about William Moulton Marsden, author of the first Wonder Woman comics.

Jill Lepore wrote a book about Marston recently, called The Secret History of Wonder Woman. I keep promising to write a full post about it, but this post is not that post. In brief, however, Lepore tells the history of Marston’s romances with his wife Sadie Elizabeth Holloway Marston as well as with Olive Byrne and Marjorie Huntley. The former two women lived with Marston and raised children with him; they later lived together for years after Marston’s death. The latter woman lived with the family intermittently.

Well I have two things to say about it today. One is that if you do not already know, Angela Robinson is directing a film about this family, called Professor Marston & the Wonder Women. It has just recently arrived in my town, and I cannot wait to watch it! As far as I can tell, the movie does not talk about Huntley at all, which is a disappointment to me. At any rate, if you’re interested in this blog, you’d probably be interested in this film.

The other thing I want to say today is just to quickly point out the CBS-now-CW television series Supergirl features Lynda Carter, who famously played Wonder Woman in the 1970s TV show, playing the US president. Cool on many levels! They character’s name, however, seems like a clear homage to the creator(s). President Olivia Marsdin evokes both Olive Burne and William Moulton Marston. I got a real kick out of this, but I’ve surprisingly not seen much acknowledgement of it around the fandom blogosphere (in comments yes, but in the main text, it seems to be overlooked). A very interesting nod!

Orange is the New Black has more poly characters in Season 5, Episode 4 – “Litchfield’s Got Talent”

We all remember last season’s introduction of a poly character which turned out to fall into the trope of polyamory as a mark of villainy, especially sexual villainy. Ugh.

That character’s polyamory still features. We see her husband and her boyfriend, who love her and seem to love each other. The word “compersion” is used and defined (somewhat poorly, but whatever).

Of course, Orange is the New Black explores a wide range of relationships, and I already noted last season that there were other situations that could be ready as polyamorous in the broadest sense of the word even if that term was not used. Episode 4 (2017), however, much more explicitly played some of the other inmates relationships against that of the explicit polyamorist. Read more (& spoilers) under the cut.

Continue reading “Orange is the New Black has more poly characters in Season 5, Episode 4 – “Litchfield’s Got Talent””

Riverdale – “To Riverdale and Back Again”

Quick hit and quick question: is polyamorist a word? This is technically a spoiler for Riverdale (Chapter 11), although an extremely minor one, so I’ll put it behind the cut. Riverdale DID expicitly reference polyamory in its premier season, but amazingly NOT with respect to classic OT3-ship Archie-Betty-Veronica.

Continue reading “Riverdale – “To Riverdale and Back Again””

About a Boy (film)

Today I’m going to take on a film that is ALMOST canonically poly, but I’ll leave it in poly interpretations because it doesn’t quite go so far. I’m also going to delve into some of that promised overly analytical writing by connecting the film to some historical anti-monogamy movements in the US.

The film is question is 2002’s About a Boy,  based on the 1998 book of the same name by Nick Hornby. I haven’t read the book, so we’re just going to focus on the film, which addresses the concept of “the couple” through several different relationships. Spoilers below the cut.

Continue reading “About a Boy (film)”

Girl Meets World – “Girl Meets Upstate”

I strongly dislike this plot, and not just because it is not poly-friendly. It strikes me as poorly written and full of characters acting uncharacteristically and some overwhelming retconning of crowd favorite Boy meets World. By “this plot”, I mean the “Maya loses herself and is just copying Riley” plot, which is for some reason integral to the “love triangle” plot. I’ll put it below the cut for spoilers but, spoiler alert, you ain’t missin’ much.

Continue reading “Girl Meets World – “Girl Meets Upstate””

Moxy Fruvous – “When She Talks”

Like The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side, I think Moxy Fruvous’s (1999) song “When She Talks” can be read as a serenade to a poly lady, by a non-poly guy. I read this particularly in the lines

A man should not be blamed for wanting to make her mine

But you can’t define the girl,

She’s her. And I would never try.

When it’s time I know she won’t stay with me.

How could just one man ever make her happy?

It’s sad that the implication is that “more-than-two” means “won’t stay together,” but it’s happy that “she wants more than one” doesn’t mean “she’s a terrible person I could never really love.” I also appreciate that it is explicitly non-possessive. The singer feels possessive, but feels bad about it.

The Magnetic Fields – “Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side”

Today we return to music, specifically the theme of singers serenading poly ladies. This one is pretty explicit: The Magnetic Fields’ (1999) “Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side.” The narrator recounts the many lovers of the object of his affection. It highlights the uniqueness of various relationships, which seem to coexist (John buys the gown for her to wear to the prom with Tom). The narrator is the luckiest guy because she wants to go for drives in his car. He never expresses any animosity towards anyone else.

It’s not totally unproblematic… she goes to prom, but “professor Blumen” also makes her “feel like a woman”, so the implication is that a professor is dating a high school student, and that’s a major put-off for me. But the general idea of many loves is there. I am putting it under “poly interpretations,” however, because one could also interpret it as simple “dating and rating” with a monogamous ended (the narrator remarks “Harry is the one I think you’ll marry”).

Girl Meets World – Pilot

Time to start doing the episode by episode mining of Farkle’s poly friendly love for Riley and Maya!

Season 1, Episode 1 – Pilot (2014)

The pilot uses Farkle’s love for Riley and Maya and highlight how different Riley and Maya are. In doing so, it articulates a key principle of many people’s perspectives on polyamory – that the literal “many loves” of polyamory are unique, full of people who are loved for their differences.

“I’ve been in love with Riley since the first grade, but I’m also equally in love with Maya.”

“The great mystery of the universe is how you could love two women the same who couldn’t possibly be more different” – BUT THAT IS EXACTLY THE POINT OF MULTIPLE LOVES as Farkle explains, “Riley is the sun, warm and bright and lights up my whole day. Maya is the night, dark and mysterious… How could I love these two different women? How could I not?”

The next several episodes play on the dynamic a little, but don’t touch on it too much. I will update soon with more.

One of the major themes of these early episodes is that the main characters are not ready for romance, and need to focus on friendship and figure romance out slowly. As I mentioned in my previous post, I worry that the overall story arc will therefore relegate polyamory to an immature, underdeveloped, or mostly platonic state. However, I am cautiously optimistic because Girl Meets World, and Boy Meets World before it, centers on the importance of many kinds of love: romantic, friendly, familial, intergenerational. The Boy Meets World dynamic between Cory, Topanga (Mrs. Cory), and Shawn (Mr. Cory) could (and often is) read as an OT3 but perhaps more importantly can be read straightforwardly as a tale of the power of loving friendships. Girl Meets World is strongly following suite, with the young protagonists as well as the ongoing relationship between Cory, Topanga, and Shawn. For this reason, I am optimistic that even if the larger story arc insists on monogamy, there will be space for some polyfriendly interpretations.

Assuming, of course, Girl Meets World gets renewed enough to HAVE such a story arc. Boy Meets World was pretty unique in following our characters from something like fifth grade to college graduation.