you me her
TV, 2018, 4 stars
Creator: John Scott Shepherd
First Run: 2016-2020 (5 Seasons)
TV series generally are difficult to review considering their nasty habit of being inconsistent season to season, but You Me Her is an exception. It pretty much stays consistently at the top of its game from beginning to end. It is however a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, and challenging of social norms in a warm, sensitive, considered way, not in an “in your face” political way. This is about love and marriage, not social radicalism and politics. Can a show about a polyamourous throuple be wholesome? Yes, it can.
The premise of the show is simple enough, yet pretty radical for television. What if the normal approach to monogamy isn’t enough? There doesn’t seem to be any reason why we can’t love more than one person at the same time. If you did fall in love with someone else, how would you go about integrating that person into your life, your marriage, your friends and family? Love and relationships are difficult enough, but imagine dealing with jealousy within your own marital bed?
All these issues and more are explored as part of You Me Her. The thing is, what could have been an overwrought drama is actually a fluffy, sexy, romcom. Here is a show you could happily binge all 5 seasons of over the course of a week, and come out happy and satisfied with the ending, but cry some ugly tears on the way.
Izzy (Priscilla Faia) is a young woman with no direction, working as an escort to support herself while studying for her psychology degree. Jack (Greg Poehler) and Emma (Rachel Blanchard) are a bored Portland suburban couple, in love and superficially happy, but their sex life has fizzled. On the advice of his insane brother in law, Jack decides to see an escort, and becomes drawn to Izzy. Then he becomes intensely guilty about it and confesses all. Emma is more intrigued than mad. What if she also saw the escort? Turns out she’s been harbouring secret bisexual desires her whole life. What if Izzy could date them both?
Try as they might to keep their arrangement professional, unexpected feelings are soon on the horizon. What starts out as a bit of sexy fun turns serious when the throuple realise that this could actually be something - that they’re in love. They begin to navigate what life could be like as a threesome. What does this new life look like? How does polyamoury impact their careers, their dreams for a family, their relationships with their parents and friends?
This is nothing like the groundbreaking film Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. At its core, that film was about creating social change in a different time, forging a new path. Despite both focusing on polyamoury in different ways, and celebrating love in all its forms, they couldn’t have taken a more different approach and have more different points to make, and I’m in love with both.
You Me Her is true romcom territory. There’s no sleaze here, no grooming, though Izzy is significantly younger than her married lovers, in her twenties compared to their late thirties. This age difference plays out less into the relationship dynamics and more into what stages their lives are at. Emma is an established architect with a career to worry about and wants to have kids before it’s “too late”. Izzy is more headstrong and carefree, unimpressed by the suburbia that Jack and Emma love. She’s being led solely by her heart, and is disappointed time and time again by the practical and conservative couple who are trying to figure it all out.
It certainly wouldn’t be a 5-season show if there weren’t some serious bumps in the road, and also some excellent supporting characters. I was impressed with how full each of the characters’ lives are, separate and apart from the “throuple” relationship. The whole story is happening on a seriously accelerated timeline - four seasons of TV happen over the space of a year - and each of them is supported by a cast of crazy best friends who are each compelling and interesting in their own ways.
The cast are talented, experienced TV veterans. Only the fact that this show started on an itty network in a niche market and could be difficult to find, particularly for US viewers, has stood in the way of there being more fanfare about it. If you’re outside the US it’s on international Netflix. Honestly, I’d consider it a must watch.
What we have here is a pure play romcom, designed to push the status quo whilst being utterly family friendly and familiar. What a strange combo. It’s got great scripts, good pacing, talented actors, and showrunners who are on their game. At one point someone even chases someone through an airport to declare their love. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve gone “crap where is the next season?!?” If you’re a romantic at heart who is always looking for the next TV show to love, this could be it.