Back before COVID (in another life, it seems), dating in Los Angeles was different. Don’t get me wrong, not everything has changed - it was still the hardest, most infuriating thing, but it was especially hard for people who date men in the entertainment industry. This was mainly because many people we went out with didn’t understand our schedules and what we really did for work, which is how showmances came about.
A showmance is a romance between two members on set (cast/crew). Usually, no one is supposed to know about it, but because no one can really keep a secret (watch Unreal), everyone ends up finding out about it. Being in the entertainment industry, we are constantly surrounded by attractive people (go HMU department), and that is challenging enough for a single person, let alone someone who is married, like me. And after the #metoo debacle happened, everyone found it a little more challenging to figure out what lines they could and couldn’t cross flirting over the crafty table.
I found my relationship tested while I was working on a set a couple of years back. I had taken a job in West LA (meh, parking), but I was looking forward to catching up with some old crew I hadn’t seen in a while. It wasn’t going to be a terribly long gig (those that go months on end), which is always nice, but these can sometimes be more stressful as the hours go a lot longer (15 hour days, woohoo!) than you expect.
One of the unfortunate parts of being female in the business is that you do get judged on your marital status or whether or not you have kids, so I usually leave my personal life at the door, only offering it up if someone asks.
I know Hollywood is trying to be more accepting and that the industry claims it has “changed” its views on that, but I know many women with kids who have not gotten jobs because of it – and the same often goes with being married. Unfortunately, you are looked at differently, so it’s best to keep quiet and pretend to be single and available at all times. Considering I have a partner on the other side of the world anyway, I am basically “single” most of the time. I was doing my typical producer duties for this particular job, and a very attractive man appeared on set. I’m used to attractive people, but this wasn’t your Jonas Brothers situation; this was more like your Chris Evans situation. Oh, damn. As the production went about its show-flow (that’s production speak), this gentleman (nickname Mr. Mance) and I had time to interact. He was nice, helpful, and just a really cool dude. I thought to myself, “Man, this totally sucks. If only...”. Naturally, there was some on set flirting. I mean, it’s Hollywood. That’s our business. I’d be lying if I said a lot of people on set didn’t flirt with each other. There’s a difference between non-consensual “Me Too” stuff and harmless on set flirting.
I forget how it was brought up, but as the show was coming to a close and we were about to wrap, it was discovered by Mr. Mance that I was partnered up. The look on his face when he found out was full of disappointment. I hadn’t thought about telling him because I was in my own world. He also hadn’t asked. I knew it wasn’t really going to go anywhere because I wasn’t single. It was just regular “office” talk and joking around that happens on most sets with most people. That’s kind of how entertainment works. I began to think about the fine line. Should I just introduce myself and blurt out my relationship status every time I meet someone? “Hi, my name is Lauren. I’m a Sagittarius. I’m in a relationship. I live in the Valley.” That seems unnecessary. I texted him the next day. We discussed the unfortunate part of emotional connections, and if it had been another life, then maybe. It was a weird (and yet, mature) conversation.
After that encounter, I struggled with my emotions. I never acted on my feelings for Mr. Mance. I thought about others in similar “office-like” situations. Sometimes we have multiple seasons and see the same people. People in the entertainment industry understand what you’re going through. This is the most pressurized job over the most unimportant things of all time. We’re making entertainment for other people. It’s not like we are doctors, yet you can wind up in tears at 3 am crying to someone who knows exactly how you feel (as opposed to your partner of however many years). So whether you’re single or taken, I can see how showmances happen.
The key to success in any relationship is communication. It is your choice if you want to disclose your personal life to your work, but only you know what happens on set and what will make you feel good about coming home to your partner.
Having any healthy relationship relies on communication, whether it’s an open or an exclusive relationship.
If you’re single, now that we’ve entered the COVID era of showmances, I encourage anyone wanting to participate in extracurricular activities to get a test and be safe about it. If you’ve been having your own “zoomance” with someone in your office, there are plenty of parks in Los Angeles to take it to the next level for a social distance hike. Good luck!