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‘Couple to Throuple’ Producers on How They Cast Polyamorous Dating Series: “Thrilling, Exciting, Sometimes a Bumpy Ride”

Though many might claim the world of reality dating has tried it all — a spectrum from love at first sight to love at no sight at all — producers at Peacock’s Couple to Throuple still have something new to bring to the table.

“We noticed we were getting more and more applications where people weren’t necessarily looking for one singular person, or had different ideas around what a relationship could be,” executive producer Tom O’Brien tells The Hollywood Reporter. As the managing director at Naked, a Fremantle label, O’Brien and his team cast for a range of reality dating series.

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In pursuit of a show that could give these outside-the-box submissions a home, he and the rest of Naked developed Peacock’s exploration of ethical non-monogamy, Couple to Throuple.

Hosted by Access Hollywood’s Scott Evans and guided by sex and relationship expert Shamyra Howard, the show features four couples who convene with 14 singles at a tropical resort and experiment with upping their romance to, per the press release, “three times the fun.”

Participants have until the end of their stay to decide if they would like to commit to their new throuple experience, go home with just each other or leave separately.

The Hollywood Reporter spoke to O’Brien and fellow executive producer Katy Fox ahead of the show’s Thursday release of the first three episodes. (The 10-episode season releases in batches weekly.)

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Let’s talk about the casting process: How did you find your four couples? 

TOM O’BRIEN We were searching for people who had almost no polyamory experience. To be completely honest, we just wanted people who are really authentically looking to open themselves to the experience. We didn’t want people who just wanted to do this to get famous. So we were really up front about what they could expect, really open about how it might be thrilling, exciting, but sometimes a bumpy ride, just to absolutely check that their hearts were in this for the right reasons. And we found four brilliant couples who threw themselves into the process.

And what about finding the 14 single people? 

O’BRIEN The singles were probably a bit easier to find, because you’re searching for one person, not two. On the whole, we were looking for people who had quite a bit [of experience with polyamory], although there were a few who had little, and were venturing into for the first time.

Sex and relationship expert Shamyra Howard helps guide all the couples and singles through their experiences with polyamory. How much of her insight affected the way you chose to structure the show? 

KATY FOX We worked closely with Shamyra — she gave her input to make sure that everything we were doing had a real basis in a fundamental aspect of relationships. It wasn’t there for no reason, they were definitely trying to learn something in every session.

The singles and the couples both do a lot of experimenting physically on camera. How much did you talk to them about that beforehand? 

FOX We were really up front with everyone beforehand about what the show was all about, and the fact that they were being filmed 24/7. The cameras were in all the rooms apart from the restrooms, so I think everyone went into it knowing that. They were prepared and ready to share their whole journey, every bit of it.

A lot of the singles spend portions of the show alone, when they are not selected by one of the couples. Where did they stay? Was there any concern that any of them would get together? 

O’BRIEN They were at a nearby hotel, and they were separate from one another. We just carefully stage managed all aspects of the show, and it worked effectively.

It might be an emotional experience to not be selected by a couple. Was there any support provided to them while they were isolated? 

FOX We had welfare teams that were based with our couples or throuples, and we also had a welfare team which was based with the singles as well. Everyone always had support. Welfare is really important to Naked as a company, and the show as well. There was a welfare team at the hotel and they would have check-ins. We also had a psychologist on location as well, so after any big events, they knew that if they were feeling a certain type of way, they could either talk to us or the welfare team, or talk to our psychologists.

How do you predict the audience will respond to the series? 

O’BRIEN We just hope that it gets watched by as many people as possible, that people give it a chance. It’s a wild, interesting, emotional ride. And I think also, we hope that people can see that under the title Couple to Throuple is really a show about relationships, the same sort of relationships that all of us have day in and day out. It’s about trust, it’s about boundaries, it’s about caring for one another and eventually, for some people. It’s about love. I just hope that we can leave people with that feeling.

Couple to Throuple is now streaming the first three episodes and releases more episodes in batches Thursdays on Peacock. 

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