By Maria Padhila
Maybe it’s just me. I haven’t watched daytime TV since I was home sick as a child and it was all “like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives…” But I got a news release on a forum and Eric alerted me as well that polyamory was to be discussed on The View by activists Diana Adams, a lawyer and writer, and Leon Feingold, co-host of Open Love NY, on the day I’m usually off and was home packing boxes anyhow.
I had to watch. I recorded it, but I also wanted to watch in real time, and I had some clothing and papers to sort, so I settled into the couch (yes, into — our couch is notorious for swallowing people, and some guests have not been able to leave) and hit the remote.
OK, so The View is a panel show targeted to women. They have a changing but usually demographically balanced group of four women who discuss current topics and host guests and do “fun” stuff to make people buy stuff without looking like that’s what’s happening. During some segments, they have an internist and professor of psychiatry, Dr. Drew Pinsky, who has been on several radio call-in shows and has had a reality TV show, Celebrity Rehab, and several spinoffs, including Sex Rehab, which aims to treat people for “sexual addiction.” He has been the subject of some disputes, one involving taking money from pharmaceutical companies, and another for long-distance diagnosis of celebrities.
While he has good traditional medical credentials, I lost patience with him a long time back, because he insists on pathologizing all but long-term monogamous relationships. Anyone in sex work, in BDSM, even sometimes trans people — he proclaims that they must have been abused as children and have some sort of current disorder. I would be even less patient if he didn’t demonstrate a self-awareness about when he goes too far and a sense of his own challenges, and if he didn’t appear motivated by compassion.
Pinsky was on TV with the happy quad from the Showtime show last year, chiding them and telling them they were doing it wrong. I really wondered if this time would be different, because Adams is such a level-headed professional and these people, after all, are New Yorkers who have been around the track.
But no. The show was rife with interruptions, biases, giggles and disrespect. If anyone learned anything, it would have to be Adams, and that would be that these shows really do suck.
The show opened with a lot of roaring about Jenny McCarthy’s birthday. She announced that she would be hosting two guests, singer and actress Olivia Newton-John and actress Lynda Carter, best known for her role as Wonder Woman. To celebrate, McCarthy came out in a Wonder Woman costume, and that was the best part of the show. I made sure Isaac, working in the next room, knew what was happening on his widescreen at that moment, and he acknowledged that Jenny McCarthy had been getting the job done for many years and was still highly qualified.
We, apparently, were not the only ones who thought so. The first 15 minutes of the show were a mutual admiration session that escalated (not quickly enough — it was kind of boring!) into a group flirt and then a group grope. I’m serious. They all told Pinsky how attractive he is, and then he talked about how his wife worried about him being on shows with women like Jenny McCarthy, and then it wound up with the women touching Jenny McCarthy’s breasts. Seriously. Not making it up.
And then they went on to tell us how bad and dangerous polyamory is.
So I have to tell you how they stacked the deck for this. They opened the show with comments on gossip that a reality TV star was seeing an ex-boyfriend while still married, and hadn’t told her husband about it.
All (the women and Pinsky) talked about the difficulty of working with such attractive people and how their spouses gave them a hard time. Maybe they should try talking to the spouses instead of just talking on TV. Pinsky talked most of all. He also described the ex-boyfriend in the gossip as “a mountain of a man” and the husband as “the sweetest, nicest guy” and followed up that this made it understandable that anyone would be suspicious.
May I have a commercial break here? Yeah, people would be suspicious because the woman is not telling her husband she’s seeing an ex. What the guys look like has nothing to do with it, except in fantasyland, where the big guys are the ones everyone has to look out for. As a woman who has been with some big guys, you know, they’re tired of being a target of jealousy and other men working their stupid shit out on them just because of their size. They don’t have it any better or easier than anyone else. Get over it!
Then, they opened up the polyamory segment with a clip from the Showtime show on the troubled triad this season. Leigh Ann was complaining that Chris only slept with both of the women and never with her alone anymore. The audience made shocked and titillated mouth noises. Pinsky said something about how this shows how badly “these things” go. Jenny McCarthy giggled something about having tried a threesome once and it just made her jealous. Adams and Feingold, the guests, the experts, tried to get a few words in, while Pinsky kept going on like some farmer in a Midwestern wheatfield, chomping on a corncob pipe while a Model T motors down a dusty road, watching and muttering “naaaah, that’ll never work, oh lordy no, never work, that blasted contraption” types of things.
Pinsky and McCarthy also told us that it was really complicated and too much trouble and that true intimacy was impossible with more than two.
Adams got a quick word in edgewise at that point. It says something about her perception and communication skills, because even though she barely got to say anything, what she did touched me very deeply. She described a little about her own struggles with jealousy, saying that seeing her boyfriend date other women was hard because they were “model types” (Adams is very attractive).
She said she had a flash of remembering being “the fat funny girl, and she’s the head cheerleader, and he’s going to leave me for her.” But she worked through that by looking at the reality of who she is today, or at least I think that’s what she did, and I REALLY REALLY would have liked to hear more about how she worked through that in a mature and courageous and non-destructive way, but I was unable to hear this because FUCKING PINSKY proclaimed, in his best shrinkly fashion: “See, this starts to sound like a defense mechanism,” AS IF ADAMS WERE NOT SITTING THERE BESIDE HIM AND AS IF SHE WERE A LABORATORY SUBJECT HE COULD PICK APART AND NOT A FELLOW HUMAN.
It was not only rude, but unethical, though I suppose Pinsky’s whole schtick depends on smacking psyche labels on folks when you haven’t even shaken hands, much less entered into a therapeutic relationship. A person opens their mouth and after 30 seconds, bingo! She’s an hysteric! Bam! He’s a narcissist! It’s like diagnostic skeet shooting. I’m just glad as hell I’ve never had that guy for my shrink, though I think some of the ones I’ve tried have been to the same school.
I would have liked to hear Adams on the topic, because that whole sense of reducing oneself to a stereotype and assuming your lovers do too is an interesting phenomenon. I suffer from a similar version: that Issac and Chris think of me as just the old reliable soccer mom, home cookin’ and complainin’ in the old yoga pants day after day, while other women are more interesting and wild (and young) and more flexible. And have better hair.
But that don’t happen when the Dr.’s in the house. So then Adams tried to explain that she and her partner were designing a life commitment ceremony because she and her partner were going to have a child, and he jumped in with a deeply avuncular: “Ahhh, you may feel differently about this when you have children.” He didn’t say “young lady,” or maybe he did, but Jenny McCarthy was talking over him. It sure had that feel, though.
Commercial break. The polyamorists were hustled out, and a video celebrating McCarthy’s birthday was shown, with birthday greetings from many, including her absolutely, sincerely adorable son. In reaction shots, Pinsky made faces indicating that he found McCarthy’s sisters very attractive and that he liked the birthday greetings from McCarthy’s two best girlfriends, which were filmed with the two women in a bed, although clothed.
Here’s the Teal Deer (meaning, Too Long; Didn’t Read) version:
– Leon Feingold is very attractive!
– Nobody doesn’t like Jenny McCarthy in a gold corset.
– That’s good enough for most Americans, who want titillation.
– Dr. Drew’s overcompensating for some shit. Why’s he got to tell us all how attracted to all the women he is but bravely resisting all the while?
But maybe it’s just me. Isaac thought it was fair. What’s your take? Was it just all the commercials for the Virginia elections that soured me?