Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 13 / 29 March 2018

Three's a crowd?


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Open relationships and the role of monogamy have been hot topics among LGBT people for decades. With the advent of marriage equality, this issue has become even more paramount. A couple who may love each other emotionally have drifted apart but physically. One possibility is introducing a third person into the equation, a solution explored artfully in the dramatic web-TV series "Three," on DVD through TLA releasing, Dekko TV, and Amazon. Made on the tiniest of budgets, this first season, six-episode (about 12 minutes) series manages to present the pros and cons of polyamory in a light-hearted manner, yet doesn't stint on the sometimes heartbreaking consequences that can result.

Patrick (Kevin Thornton) has just celebrated his 40th birthday and is unhappy with Dylan (Justin Hand), his partner of five years. As the film opens, Dylan is jerking off alone into the bathroom sink, so we know their relationship is not a sexual paradise. Drunk and behaving unseemly at his party by putting his tongue in a guest's mouth, Patrick tells Dylan he wants a threeway. He can no longer stand being in a relationship with little-to-no sex life. With trepidation, Dylan agrees. They review an online hookup site with such wicked lines as, "Is that a mug shot?," "Smokin' hot bottom, sounds dirty, like he might need penicillin," and, "He looks tiny, doughy, like he might have a leprechaun or two in his lineage." Despite Dylan's attempt to sabotage all Patrick's choices, they agree on one guy, and the encounter goes okay.

But then Patrick invites Jason (the gorgeous Daniel Mark Collins), whom he met at the gym, home for dinner. The decade-younger Jason goes to bed with them. Patrick is smitten and invites Jason back the next night. Patrick wants Jason to move into the spare room. Dylan is ambivalent. He telegraphs his feelings not to Justin, but to his neighbor and best friend Elliot (Derek Whittaker), who provides counsel. Elliot is much older, and single since his partner died. Eventually Dylan confronts Patrick with an ultimatum about the status of their relationship.

"Three" is no TV masterpiece, but the conflicts Patrick and Dylan undergo are real ones. Couples asking similar questions could watch this nonthreatening series, and it could open up discussion about open relationships. Communication and honesty are essential when dealing with such explosive issues. As Dylan wisely sums up: "I'm mourning the loss of what I think a relationship should be." Writer-director Jeff Swafford presents a witty, at times bitchy, well-written script.

The drawback is the lack of chemistry between Thornton and Hand. The one scene where they try to have sex alone is painful to watch. Yet this mismatch makes their desire to open up the relationship believable. Thornton and Hand, while attractive, are not impressive actors, but Whittaker takes cliche comic-gay-friend yarn and spins it into gold. When Dylan asks him if he has ever had a threesome, Elliot replies, "Honey, I've had enough trouble finding one person to go to bed with, no less two."

For those contemplating adding some spice to the bedroom, "Three" charts the potential pleasures and downsides. We care enough about the characters to hope there might be a Season Two.

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