My Best (And Worst) Bisexual TV Characters
Hello, my fellow bisexuals, assorted LGBTQ people, and miscellaneous straights! It’s Pride Month, and I wanted to write something fun this time around (with a little snark because, you know, that’s my thing). So I’m talkin’ about my favourite bisexual characters on TV, and some (those written by Ryan Murphy and Steven Moffat, mostly) that missed the mark. To the list!
The Good: Captain Jack Harkness, Doctor Who/Torchwood
Does Captain Jack embody all kinds of stereotypes about bisexuality that I would roll my eyes at in a character introduced today? Hell, yes – he’s a suave, impossibly irresistible, endlessly flirtatious frenching machine with a taste for literally everything that crosses his path. But he’s also the first bisexual character I ever really saw in pop culture, and that’s had an impact on me that I can’t overstate. Sure, he’s a giant space-slut, but he’s also brave, charming, and loyal. Oh, and played by John Barrowman, queen of the cheerful camp yelling which makes up most of my viewing schedule.
The Bad: Brittany Pierce, Glee
In all fairness, it’s not that Brittany herself is terrible: it’s just that everything surrounding her is. Hey, remember when the show suggested that Brittany dating a man after splitting with her female partner was the equivalent of abandoning her girlfriend because she couldn’t resist dick? Remember when they wouldn’t call it “bi”, or anything else for that matter? Remember when the show seemed to tacitly imply for years that she was simply too dumb to know that she couldn’t be attracted to anyone and everyone? And remember when another character considered identifying as bisexual and were told that “Bisexual is a term that gay guys in high school use when they wannahold hands with girls and feel like a normal person for a change”? This bisexual fucking remembers.
The Good: Rosa Diaz, Brooklyn 99
And a great cry went up, as if a thousand bis had actually heard someone on TV call themselves “bisexual” and were finally able to shut up about it and just enjoy the show. I was so impressed at the fact Brooklyn 99, which really is just this goofy little show with way more progressive politics than it needs to have, was so committed to taking this coming out story as seriously as it would have someone coming out as gay, and throw into the mix that they actually called bisexuality bisexuality and I’m practically swooning. Or maybe that’s just because Rosa is played by Stefanie Beatriz and her evil glower does things to me I don’t want to go into. On with the list!
The Bad: All Those Fucking Bi Vampires, True Blood
Do people know that bisexual people aren’t vampires? Do they? Do they really? Really do they? Do they really? Bisexuality isn’t something that you develop after living long enough to get bored of one gender. True Blood isn’t the only show that seems to think being a minion of the undead means being a minion of all beds (I tried, I did), but honestly, and imagine my stern voice here, that’s enough.
The Good: Daryl Whitefeather, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Not only did Daryl bless us from the bi heavens with the classic nonmonosexual anthem Getting Bi (which you should have been listening to from the start of this article, you fool), but Daryl just…he’s just the best. Going against all those silly bisexual tropes about having to be a punishingly sexy beast so irresistible to everyone that it would be unfair for you to not like all genders, Daryl is the character who most represents the bi people I know and am: just gettin’ bi. It’s also really nice to see a show finally really represent the strong connection between being bisexual and enjoying keytars.
The Bad: Will Drake, American Horror Story: Hotel
Now, this is a funny one, because I wrote an article criticising American Horror Story: Hotel for it’s awful depiction of bi people – and then, lo and behold, mere weeks later, they drop an episode where they try to deliver on some actual bisexual representation. But let me just clarify: when I say I want more bisexual representation, I don’t mean I want characters basically turning to camera and delivering a hysterically cleavered-in monologue that’s basically just reading from the Wiki page on bisexuality and patting itself on the back for doing that whole LGBT thing justice. Yeesh.
The Good: Stella Gibson, The Fall
She’s played by Gillian Anderson. Obviously. Obviously. NEXT.
The Bad: Oberyn Martell, Game of Thrones
Yikes. I know this is one that a lot of people really love and I can see why – but the show always seemed to link his bisexuality with his deviancy in a way that ooked me right out, with the introduction of his sexuality (which was about as subtle as him grabbin’ a dick then grabbin’ a vag, in Game of Thrones usual inimitably nuanced style) sharing a scene with a horrible act of violence. I’m loath to criticise this one too deeply, since I have strong feelings on Game of Thrones anyway and they might well colour my opinion of Oberyn, but this depiction always felt old-fashioned and wheezy for a lot of reasons.
The Good: Alana Bloom, Hannibal
OBVIOUSLY, Hannibal is a show all about two romantically involved men, but the REAL LGBT meat (heh) comes from the queen of red power suits herself, Alana Bloom, as played by Caroline Dhavernas. Cool, controlled, and committed, Alana is shown to have significant relationships with men and women over the course of the show, something that the ever-excellent Hannibal never feels the need to underline pointedly or ignore outright. It’s just a well-balanced execution, and the cherry on top of a near-perfect three seasons for me (Bring Back Hannibal and Save My 2018 2K18).
The Bad: The Doctor, Doctor Who
Haha, wouldn’t it be cute if the showrunner were to announce that a major male character was bi, but then only have his relationships with men turn into foot-shuffling nudge-nudging when they involved anything other than the complete platonic? Haha, that would be funny. He should also kiss a lesbian against her will. That’s what bisexuality is, right? Men making out with lesbians? Nailed it. Nailed it. Pah, I hate Steven Moffat so much it makes my head hurt.
And that’s my best and worst! Who do you love and hate in the world of bisexual television? What shows impressed you and who could do better? And where do you stand on Sara Lance? Let me know in the comments below, or hit me up on Twitter! And please check out the list below for more of my writing on bisexuality in the media:
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(header image courtesy of indepthh.org)