Couple to Throuple images by Paul Castillero for Peacock
This recap contains spoilers for the first three episodes of Couple to Throuple.
Peacock’s new polyamorous dating show Couple to Throuple finally asks the question: What if sex toys could unionize?
You see, most of the couples going in looking for a third are missing the part where that person is… a person. They’re put out that their Fleshlights have vocalized wants and needs.
The bar for nuanced polyamorous reality content is in hell, but three episodes into Couple to Throuple and I’m actually not as annoyed as I thought I’d be. We’re not just seeing these couples pick a sexy third — we’re seeing the ways their behavior as a couple affects that third. It’s a new lens.
I love polyamory. I love non-monogamy. I love triads. I love dating couples. I love being the third. I love threesomes. All of these are different situations dangerously lumped together under one umbrella of “polyamory.” When people say “polyamory,” they really need to be clear about what structure they EXACTLY mean. Couple to Throuple wants the couples to find their forever third. But the couples are still trying to decide what they want for themselves.
The show works like Love Island. Couples (all new to the scene) choose to throuple up with one single, many of whom are bisexual and/or have been polyamorous before. (Hot.) They test things out, and then decide if they want to stay together or throuple up with someone else. A relationship coach and sex expert named Shamyra Howard comes in periodically to “test” the couples and throuples. Our host, Access Hollywood’s Scott Evans, states he has personal experience with non-monogamy too. (Howard and Evans are both very likable even as I remind myself they are the guards in this tropical Stanford prison experiment.)
The faulty premise of Couple to Throuple is a faulty premise a lot of couples trying ethical non-monogamy IRL fall into. They want to be a throuple, but they never think about if they want to be with this specific complex, individual third person. One is an identity, the other is a relationship.
People who take so much pride in these cool and open-minded identities, might be unwilling to consider that the success of a throuple, like the success of a couple, is determined by the people inside the situation. You can all three have long histories of polyamory and still not be in the right dynamic with each other. The show pretends to ask if these couples are actually polyamorous but that’s not really what it’s showing us at all.
It’s one thing to abstractly romanticize the idea of a triad, it’s another to find two people who sync with you, and with each other, and who also want the life you want. I don’t mean just in non-monogamy — I mean do they want the same amount of cats? Do they prefer the beach to the mountains? Do they believe in God??
But boo! That’s no fun!!
Let’s Meet Our Couples Looking to Throuple
First, Lauren and Dylan. Married for two years, together for seven. They say threesomes brought them closer together, which is… certainly about them. Dylan has a nose ring and paints his nails. Lauren has the most arresting blue eyes I’ve ever seen. They’re probably the “straight” couple that their straight friends describe as “a little wild.”
Then, there’s Sean and Brittane. They have been together for 4 years. Both identify primarily as straight with B maybe being bi-curious. They say they’re there because people approach them for threesomes a lot. (Okay, brag.) And also as Brittane puts it, “We need someone to bring out that emotional aspect that we lack.” Again, that’s what the third can do for you and your relationship. A running theme emerges.
While the other couples emphasize their sexual compatibility, Brittane and Sean say they’re not super sexual. They’re best friends first. Sometimes they’re so not affectionate that people don’t even know they’re together. But that doesn’t seem to bother either of them. Brittane hopes their third can become her girl best friend. Sean wants another woman around so Brittane stops talking his ear off. I love them.
Next are our gay boy boyfriend twins: little cuties Ashmal and Rehman. Ashmal is bisexual, with Rehman being his first boyfriend and the reason he came out to his parents. Rehman identifies as someone who will try anything. He’s never been with a woman, but he’s open. They met right before Covid, quarantined together and got serious. Rehman says they’re confident in their relationship and want to bring someone confident in. Ashmal disagrees, wanting someone who can figure it out with them, not tell them what to do. “We can’t even pick a movie, now we’re picking a person,” Ashmal jokes. He seems stressed.
And finally, Corey and Wilder giving bi-curious Barbie and Ken. They are dressed like Clarence and Alabama from True Romance. They’ve been together for 9 years and met in college. They’re who Lauren and Dylan’s friends would have made fun of in high school.
When the sexy singles are brought in, we only get names and personalities for a few of them. Most of them seem bisexual and mention wanting to have a boyfriend and a girlfriend to satisfy their needs. Corey agrees that she wants feminine energy to balance out Wilder. I’m not even mad at that as a bisexual. I would hope we’re past needing our bi or pan representation to be palatable to fucking puritans. Sometimes Mama wants both. (It’s me. I’m Mama.)
Rehman asks these strangers who is hotter between him and his boyfriend. Shy bi Corey sends Wilder to bring over the girl she likes. Brittane and Sean tell their singles that Sean has seen ghosts. (I love them.) One of the singles, Mia, asks Lauren and Dylan why society says it’s okay for her to have multiple friends, but only one lover?
The couples then play a game with Shamyra to see if they agree on the singles they’re vibing with. Most do.
Picking a Third
At the choosing ceremony, Lauren and Dylan take Becca, Lauren’s dopplebanger. Corey and Wilder choose Denyse, the girl Corey sent Wilder to fetch for her. Ashmal and Rehman choose Jonathan, who bonded with Ashmal over their similar coming out stories. Sean and Brittane choose Sanu, who actually works as a polyamory coach and whose parents are also poly.
Once in private, the energy between the throuples becomes giggly and horny. It’s my favorite part of the three-person hook up – where you all suddenly realize, “Omg we’re gonna get away with this!” Becca takes off her top and she and Lauren compare boobs. We also get a surprise when, after the three of them hook up, Dylan leaves the room and Lauren and Becca fuck alone. Jonathan, Rehman, and Ashmal also fuck A LOT. The sheets are wet.
Corey, like many bisexuals, is too scared to make a move on a girl that is literally in her bed agreeing to be with her, so that throuple is taking it slow. “Just because you’re a kinky freak, doesn’t mean you want to get kinky and freaky right away,” Corey blushes.
The only throuple not doing funny business AT ALL is Sanu, Sean and Brittane. Coach Sanu wants to talk, build a foundation, and be intentional. Brittane and Sean agree.
The next morning brings the reality check. The throuples wake up and guess what? Their sex toy has come to life. It wants to brush its teeth and wash its face. It wants to talk to you.
Lauren and Becca have hit it off without Dylan. Sean says he’s not sure how sex with two women would work. When Brittane asks what he means he says, “If I’m having sex with you, what is she doing?” I am obsessed with Sean.
Shamyra has them do an exercise about boundaries where one person sits in a chair and watches the third do intimate things to their partner. This is my preferred position, but these people are either indifferent or hate it!
Sean is not attracted to Sanu after kissing her and says he prefers Brittane because he has an emotional connection to her. Dylan does not realize his wife is becoming a lesbian in front of his eyes. (I’m kidding but it is another classic trope.)
Corey cries watching Denyse rub Wilder’s back. It is all handled really lovingly and no one is made out to be the bad guy. Corey says that, one time, she and Wilder were going to hook up with this girl but Corey didn’t know how to get it started. She went to the bathroom and when she came back Wilder and the girl were making out. She felt like an unwanted third wheel. It was painful. She expresses that she really needs to be involved, at least in the beginning, and both Denyse and Wilder validate her.
Big Gay Feelings
The other person in his feelings is Rehman. And you know what? I’m gonna guess most people watching will think Rehman is the bad guy here, but I disagree. I see where Rehman is coming from. He is very insecure. He comes from a household where he was taught to never cry or express his feelings. He is not going to be perfect right away. None of them are, except Dylan who doesn’t know what’s happening.
As Jonathan lavishes attention on Ashmal, Rehman freezes on his perch. Ashmal can tell he is unhappy and so he stops the exercise. He wanted Rehman to call timeout without Ashmal having to guess that’s what he wants. Rehman wanted Ashmal to guess what he wanted sooner without Rehman having to call timeout. Rehman, unable to look vulnerable for one second, is silently testing Ashmal and then letting him fail tests.
Rehman’s not going to object because he wants to look chill and cool. He’s upset when Ashmal shares with the group that Rehman felt jealous, even though they’re all absolutely being encouraged by producers to share where they’re at with that emotion.
I get Rehman. I see Rehman. I don’t want to write Rehman off just because his journey is going to require something he didn’t anticipate: ego death.
And that is HARD. You have to be willing to look “uncool” or “bothered.” You have to be willing to spell out your insecurities to your partner or partners. Even the ones you don’t want to admit to yourself. You cannot hold onto pride to the detriment of change. You have to lose control of how you present yourself. You have to tell the truth. And that’s even harder to do on camera and in public. Rehman thought they had this in the bag because he was so confident in his relationship with Ashmal, but he didn’t realize he needed to be confident in his relationship to himself.
This show’s premise implies that you can be “poly” or “not poly.” But you can also be jealous of an aspect of one potential third that might not exist in another potential third. Ashmal and Jonathan sharing a bisexual identity makes Rehman insecure. Rehman needs to humble himself and explore that.
Because he is insecure, he’s convinced himself Jonathan likes Ashmal more than him. Maybe he does! But Rehman is not communicating to get the real information at all! He is thrashing around trying to feel the least possible pain. I believe in Rehman and I appreciate that his messy response is the most honest out of everyone. But unfortunately, in all his trying to look chill, he’s causing a bit of a scene.
Here’s where the thirds begin to wonder if soylent green is people.
Jonathan sweetly comforts Rehman for being jealous about… Jonathan. Lauren and Dylan start ignoring Becca in favor of shiny new toy Mia. Brittane tells other singles in front of Sanu that they could have picked anyone really. Later, Sanu confronts them saying she felt dehumanized. She wishes she’d been picked second by them, not first so she wouldn’t be the guinea pig. Brittane is like, Sanu isn’t fun. She’s just a walking poly lecture, condescending and solely intellectual, sucking all the joy out of the experience. (It’s a role she’s been shoved into by being an expert, a role she doesn’t want, and eventually one she breaks free of to be really fun actually.)
Rehman and Ashmal walk off to have it out. Rehman is working purely on assumptions. He’s assumed Ashmal and Jonathan have this amazing bond over both being bisexual, a bond that leaves him out. (He has never asked if that’s true.) He assumes Jonathan is only attracted to Ashmal and not him because during their first morning after, he gave Rehman one dry kiss, but during the challenge he made out with Ashmal with tongue. (These are two very different environments for kisses.) His mind is leaping around to make connections and solve this unfamiliar situation as a survival instinct, but in an effort to never feel pain, Rehman is causing himself more pain than if he just asked for the truth.
Ashmal cries, saying maybe he should just be a shittier person who doesn’t care about people so much. (This seems out of left field and is clearly a continuation of some prior fight we weren’t there for.) The person crying isn’t necessarily the only one having strong emotions. Rehman is feeling tortured and Ashmal is feeling helpless when he can’t stop Rehman from feeling tortured because he’s made Rehman’s emotions his responsibility.
“The experience of my partner is part of my experience,” Ashmal says and I can’t tell if this is healthy or not. They make up.
“They’re kind of just forgetting about me,” Jonathan says. He finds the tension unbearable. “If this would have happened outside the villa, I wouldn’t even be dealing with this shit.”
That night, Becca and Jonathan help each other move out of their respective couples’ rooms. Lauren says the connection with their third has to be with both Dylan and her, not just with her. When they get back and see Becca has moved out, they’re relieved. “Maybe the next one will go even better,” they soothe each other, which is SO RUDE.
The next day, Rehman becomes even more relatable to me when he and Jonathan finally have a private chat. Everyone asks Ashmal how he would feel if his two partners kissed and he says he’d be so happy. In private, Jonathan says he is actually more physically attracted to Rehman.
Rehman’s ENTIRE VIBE changes when he hears that. He relaxes. He smiles. He flirts a little. I understand Rehman so, so much. I am rooting for his growth.
Jealousy Is Allowed In Couples AND Throuples!
Speaking of, Shamyra is back to make the couples write down a time they were jealous and throw it in a fire. Sean has been jealous in the past because he wants more quality time with Brittane. She went to a Halloween party with her friends last year and since he felt left out, he got angry with her. He sincerely apologizes and she forgives him. Dylan claims he has never been jealous but when Lauren presses him, he admits he was jealous of Becca.
Rehman worries that if Ashmal bonds with someone else, their bond won’t mean as much. We don’t really see Ashmal struggling at all, other than with Rehman’s feelings. And the show never divulges what was on Ashmal’s paper.
Similarly, Corey says sometimes she likes seeing Wilder and Denyse get along, but sometimes it hurts. Wilder says, “Part of my job is to make sure you have enough before I go out and give to someone else.” I like this, even though when you have an active third, it’s not …going out. This sweet sentiment works for non-monogamy or for hierarchical situations, but in a throuple, it should be about everyone, no?
While the couples work through trauma, the thirds get wacky back at the castle. They skinny dip. Denyse goads Sanu and Becca into making out. (Sanu is fun!)
At the recoupling ceremony, the thirds step forward for the couple they want to join and the couple decides if they want a new third. The third has no say. Corey and Wilder keep Denyse, giving her a pink beret as a gift. Dylan and Lauren ditch Becca and recouple with Mia, who has sparkles in her hair and no wants or needs behind her smile. Brittane and Sean have since worked things out with Sanu but it’s not enough to save her. Sanu does not want to go, but they replace her with Darrien, thus hurting the feelings of their devastated second choice, Peach. (Oh, don’t worry. Brittane says it was a close race. Ouch.) Ashmal is proud of how brave Rehman has been with his emotions. Rehman says they’d like to move on to “something” new. Not someone. Something. Miserable Jonathan, legally a veteran now, is replaced. (We won’t know by whom until next week.)
Having any negative emotions simply won’t do for a third. But it’s only a matter of time until the sexy singles start making demands.
The couples are outnumbered.
New Relationship Energy:
+ I would like each couple to name one fact about their third. Go.
+ The queer girlies have really hit it off. When are my dudes gonna get to be bisexual?
+ Love the quirky queer girl and uptight gay man solidarity we find in the friendship between Corey and Rehman.
+ What happens if a couple hits it off with someone else in a couple?
+ What if two couples want to combine into a quad?
+ What if a couple likes two singles and they want to become a quad?
+ What if a girl wants two boyfriends but the boyfriends don’t want to be with each other?
+ What are the rules??
+ Peach wants to be submissive to Brittane if she pairs with her and Sean. Sean and Brittane really like that Peach dresses so similarly to Brittane. Are they… starting a cult?
The first three episodes of Couple to Throuple are now streaming on Peacock.