The premiere of Siren brought with it a new take on mermaids that’s nothing like the naive, mild-mannered, red-headed Disney character we’re all familiar with. In the water, these mermaids are hard-core killers and vicious predators at the top of the food chain. Out of the water, however, their non-gender specific sex appeal is just as deadly.
In ancient times the sex appeal of sirens is what made them dangerous. In mythology, these half-woman, half-animal creatures would sing melodious songs that would drive sailors wild with so wild with desire, they’d crash their ships and/or boats. The Freeform series borrows some of this mythos, but takes it a step further by making the mermaids (in their human form) presumably pansexual and even polyamorous.
Siren's first season introduced viewers to Ryn (Eline Powell), a strong-willed mermaid in search of her sister who was kidnapped and held in captivity by a government agency experimenting on the fantastical creatures in the name of modern medicine. While on land, Ryn encounters Ben Pownall (Alex Roe) and Maddie Bishop (Fola Evans-Akingbola), two humans who help her achieve her mission.
During this time, Ryn not only becomes acquainted with the ways of humans, but she also begins to bond with her human helpers, who are both attracted to the mermaid (with Ben being more infatuated due to hearing Ryn’s intoxicating siren song). As the season continues, viewers get the impression Ryn is simultaneously open to both their feelings and may be open to their advances.
On a few occasions throughout Season 1, Ryn kisses Ben but she also kisses Maddie. She shares a bed with the couple and in one scene, she even attempts to join the pair for a shower. Talk about getting wet and wild!
Though her initial actions were the result of her imitating Ben and Maddie’s physical display of affection, at some point, Ryn learns kissing is associated with a feeling of love. And again, she’s open to displaying her love to those she cares about regardless of who or what they are.
The lingering tension between the three comes to a bit of a head in Season 2, where in Episode 4, “Oil & Water”, Ryn kisses both Maddie and Ben, who then kiss each other. The scene leads to the impression the three will engage in a threesome; however, at the beginning of the following episode, viewers learn the trio only kissed and then fell asleep — though Ryn makes it clear she’s open to sex with both individuals.
When Ben and Maddie explain humans do not just have sex for procreation, but for pleasure, Ryn tells the pair she wants to “make love” to “Ben and Maddie.” The pair are clearly interested in the prospect and Ryn reiterates her desire to continue this polyamorous relationship with her friends when she accidentally says so to Maddie’s mom, Susan (played by Garcelle Beauvais). In typical depictions of mermaids/sirens, women are generally immune to the siren’s whims. But on Siren, that’s not the case as evidenced by Maddie and Ryn’s affinity for one another.
It’s also safe to assume Ryn’s pansexual attitude is not just singular. When Levi (Sedale Threatt Jr), a merman who seeks refuge in human form among Ryn, attempts to be more human, he mimics a woman kissing a man by doing the same. While viewers are aware Levi is having a case of “monkey see, monkey do,” the fact the merman does not recoil at the idea of kissing another being that looks similar to him lends more to the idea that mermaids have their own social constructs, where sex and gender is not a fact in sex and relationships.
These mermaids may be predators of the sea, but it looks like they’re on board for free love.