As the four featured couples on Peacock’s racy new reality series Couple to Throuple all bed down for their first night, the show could be any other in the proliferating genre of hookup TV, populated by bed-hopping singles shacked up in sex mansions.
But look closely, once the screen shifts to spy-cam night vision of bodies writhing beneath the sheets, and you’ll not mistake a third eager, willing participant bumping and grinding with the main pair.
Set to boldly explore the bounds of polyamory, the show’s couples and singles — thirds, if you will — might represent a lighthearted, next logical step in society’s surging discourse on ethical non-monogamy.
Then again, to more traditionally-minded viewers, or those simply with different tastes in popular entertainment, these semi-exhibitionist throuples might just speak to the unrelenting decline of American culture. But, hey, why can’t it be both?
Actually, if the show aimed a little lower, and just went balls-out for shameless lasciviousness, the results might be more thrilling than the generally repetitive, thinly plotted unscripted drama that plays out here.
Instead, episodes draw out scenes of longtime couples Lauren and Dylan, Brittne and Sean, Corey and Wilder, and, the lone same-sex couple, Rehman and Ashmal, talking over their feelings, with one another, with other couples, with sex and relationship expert Shamyra Howard.
“Poly’s supposed to be fun,” pronounces the single lady who’s first picked as a third by Brittne and Sean, and we’re inclined to agree.
Of course, she also happens to come off as the least fun person of anyone on the show, not to mention the least self-aware. Her tendency to pontificate on the parameters and protocols of their “three-lationship” is pretty much what turns off her prospective couple.
Though, maybe there’s still hope for her. The studio provided only the first three episodes of the ten-episode season, over the course of which each curious couple will decide whether to leave with a third from among the 14 straight, bi, and gay available singles, or go home alone. Some in the couples might go home very alone, as in, uncoupled from the partner with whom they arrived.
In the first few episodes, once the couples’ thirds are chosen, there’s not too much shakeup in the house. Low on plot points, yet filled with low-stakes confessions and rambling heart-to-heart chats about “making deeper connections,” episodes tend to drag, unless the houseguests are engaged in specific activities, like a white party mixer that’s somewhat derailed by sexual tension and sour feelings. That’s good TV, though.
How engaging viewers find any of the proceedings in the Couple to Throuple house might depend on their particular interest in, or attraction to one or more of the couples.
Self-proclaimed bisexual Ashmal and gay partner Rehman might go through bouts of silly arguments, but the similarly-groomed, Chicago-based pair keep their storyline spicy, in and out of the bedroom.
The show embraces adult situations in all the couples’ bedrooms, though only exposes flashes of TV-MA nudity. Otherwise, Couple to Throuple sticks to familiar stylistic choices, bouncing between confrontations and confessionals, with copious interstitial montages of ocean waves, and guys and girls getting ready in the mirror for their next on-camera moment.
Occasionally, a sarcastic sense of humor bubbles through in a zingy edit, or needle drop — like the sly cut from a laughably petty Corey and Wilder fight to a rock ballad cooing, “Sometimes life gets hard.” And throughout, the show vividly takes measure of the physical and emotional chemistry circulating between the singles, couples, and even the show’s host — chipper, gay Access Hollywood journalist Scott Evans.
Raising an eyebrow, Evans introduces himself in episode one as someone versed in the worldly ways of polyamory, although choosing him as a third apparently is not on the table. Now, that would be a thrilling, truly subversive step towards shaking up this party.
Couple to Throuple (★★☆☆☆) is streaming exclusively on Peacock. New episodes premiere Thursday at 5 a.m. ET / 2 a.m. PT. Visit www.peacock.com
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