A GoPride Interview

Ashmal Ali and Rehman Bhatti

From Couple to Throuple Ashmal Ali and Rehman Bhatti fly free on Peacock

Sat. February 17, 2024  by Jerry Nunn

Rehman and I joked that we hoped we were not taking gay rights back 50 years!
Ashmal Ali and Rehman Bhatti

rehman and asmal at sidetrack

photo credit // jerry nunn

Local Couple Ashmal Ali and Rehman Bhatti explore being a throuple

Chicago locals Ashmal Ali and Rehman Bhatti are spreading their wings on Peacock’s Couple to Throuple original series. The show brings random couples together to explore the wide world of polyamory while being guided by host Scott Evans and relationship expert Shamyra Howard.

Cameras followed Ali and Bhatti to a tropical island in search of adventure and possibly a third.

The duo reminisced about their experience after the premiere screening at Sidetrack The Video Bar.

JN: (Jerry Nunn) Was it hard to keep the secret before the first episode aired?

AA: (Ashmal Ali) It was hard because we came back looking tan from a mysterious vacation during the coldest months in Chicago! People would ask me where I went and I would say South America then run away.

JN: Well, the cat is out of the bag now. How did you land on Couple to Throuple in the first place?

RB: (Rehman Bhatti) I came across a Facebook ad then I applied. We did an initial phone interview first and they wanted a video interview after that. Ashmal and I made a casting tape for that next round.

JN: Where did you meet each other in the beginning?

AA: I am from Atlanta and moved to Michigan for law school. Even though Rehman lived an hour and a half away he showed up on the radius of the dating app Tinder. He didn’t message me back so I messaged him on Bumble where he responded to me. We met and started dating.

JN: How long have you been together?

RB: We have been together for four years. It was just a few months before COVID hit.

AA: We don’t have an actual anniversary date, but it was sometime in January 2020.

JN: When did you decide to open up the relationship?

RB: About a year and a half into dating. We felt really comfortable with each other and were secure in our relationship to have a third or hookups outside the two of us. That is when we started experimenting outside of monogamy.

AA: We had to wait for the COVID-19 vaccine because the world was closed. There was no way for us to open up at that time.

JN: It looks glamorous on TV. How was that hotel you stayed in?

AA: It was amazing and a full resort experience. The staff and everyone took such good care of us. The meals were so great and they took care of any little snack I would want.

RB: Ashmal and I work traditional 9 to 5 jobs so we looked at it as a vacation away from our normal lives. Having five weeks down there in that beautiful mansion in Panama with 90-degree weather was just what we needed.

JN: What were your first impressions of other cast members?

RB: I loved the diversity in the different couples who represented totally different communities. This allowed viewers to see us going through these experiences differently than the other couples. We learned a lot from the way the other couples would navigate things. The different backgrounds were awesome.

AA: We didn’t know what to expect so led all the couples to have a camaraderie. I remember the first day when we walked in I had the biggest crush on Brittne Babe. Since couples didn’t pick each other I was friend-zoned really fast.

JN: Did the two of you feel a responsibility to represent the queer community on the show?

RB: That was in my head a lot and I struggled with it especially when you watch the second and third episodes. I was worried I was feeding into the stereotype of gay couples fighting with all the things that happened between Ashmal and me.

I had to quickly overcome that. There are several communities that we represent, but I had to look at it as just representing myself and I couldn’t let outside factors creep into my mind because that would not be healthy.

AA: I had that awareness, but I was not doing it for another group of people. I knew that whatever community I was representing already had so much diversity within it. Everyone has their own unique experiences and I kept reminding myself of that. There was no way to represent every person in the world. I was just representing myself. Rehman and I joked that we hoped we were not taking gay rights back 50 years!

We are human and people should understand that.

JN: Viewers should applaud you for being out and proud in my opinion.

AA: Before I got on the show I watched a lot of reality television when I first came to America. MTV’s The Real World was how I learned about America. Every year they had one gay person and one person of color where I could see somebody like me.

The next time I saw that was Sanjaya Malakar on American Idol, who was great for representation but an openly bad singer. I still felt we won one!

I hope there will be even more representation in the future now I have been on TV.

JN: What are your parent’s backgrounds?

RB: My dad was born and raised in Pakistan and my mother was Armenian and Italian but born in America. That gave me a diverse background and I grew up in a household full of different cultures. There were also different religions because my dad was Muslim and my mom was catholic.

AA: My family and I were born in Pakistan. I came here when I was eight years old.

JN: What are their thoughts on being on Couple to Throuple?

RB: I haven’t talked to my parents in depth about what we did in the show. Because I am 32 years old they let me do my own thing, but we have a solid and strong relationship.

AA: I keep my family life private.

JN: How did you both wind up in Chicago?

RB: I was born and raised in the Metro Detroit area. I lived there for 30 years of my life. Once Ashmal graduated law school he thought the job market would be better in Chicago. We made a big step to pack up and move there at the end of summer in 2022.

AA: When I lived in Atlanta I would visit my friend that lived in Chicago. Every time I thought about being an attorney here, so it was always my plan. It threw a wrench in my plan when I met Rehman but then we eventually left Michigan to live here.

JN: What advice would you give others pursuing an open relationship?

RB: Keep an open mind and go for it. That was the biggest thing going into the experiment. We were honest about testing the waters and being open-minded. We didn’t have many details about what we were getting into, but we were open to whatever they threw at us. We wanted to participate and try it.

As people will see in some of the episodes it is difficult at times. Overall, we had to ground ourselves and give it our all.

AA: To add on, I will tell others to do a little bit of research and google the word “polyamory.” They should know the base of it and get the background to equip themselves. Don’t go into it blind!

JN: Maybe people at home can learn a few things from Couple to Throuple and stop some of the stigma.

RB: That is one of the reasons I was excited about the show. There is a lot of stigma around the gay community about having open relationships and hooking up. This show was not geared towards that.

Some people may think we are acting, but it is the real world where relationships aren’t perfect. There are lots of ups and downs. That is what we were going through at the time of the filming.

We were just lifted from Chicago and put in a beautiful mansion, but that didn’t change who we were or how our relationship was. That is what viewers will see when they watch each episode.

JN: Ashmal, do you have more standup comedy gigs lined up?

AA: I am doing an upcoming open mic at My Buddies, 4416 North Clark Street and hopefully more in the future.

New episodes of Couple to Throuple stream every Thursday at PeacockTV.com.


Interviewed by Jerry Nunn. Jerry Nunn is a contributing writer to the GoPride Network. His work is also featured in Windy City Times, Nightspots Magazine and syndicated nationally.