If you only know bisexuality through your TV screen, you probably have a completely warped version of it.
To bisexuals living out here in the real world, I imagine that’s been pretty damn frustrating.
I’m gay, so I have some understanding of what it feels like for Hollywood to hijack your sexual orientation, twist it into tired TV tropes (hilarious gay BFF, anyone?), and spit them out for the world to see.
But the industry has made strides in depicting gay characters as whole, complex humans. People who are bisexual though? Eh, not as much.
When bi characters actually do appear (it’s still too rare), they often reflect stereotypes that range from ridiculous to downright harmful.
From Catherine in “Basic Instinct,” who was a promiscuous serial killer…
…to, more recently, Frank Underwood in “House of Cards” — a manipulative megalomaniac whose sexual fluidity is more about asserting power than an identity. Bisexuality hasn’t gotten a fair shake.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s been primetime progress for bisexual characters in recent years on shows like “Grey’s Anatomy,” and you could argue simply having more roles like Mr. Underwood — a main character who isn’t defined by his (bi)sexuality — is a good thing in and of itself.
There’s a whole lot of room for improvement though — especially for male characters who are bi. And that’s why I am living for “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” a new series on The CW network. The show is a musical comedy, and it’s a must-watch for many reasons, but mostly because it’s smart, it’s refreshing, and most importantly, it’s super funny.
I’ll admit, I was nervous, at first, when Darryl Whitefeather, a character on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” kissed another man.
Darryl is an awkward but earnest, middle-aged divorcé with a daughter. So when he kissed another male character on the show, it truly came out of nowhere.
I was excited to see “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” was taking his character in an unexpected direction … but I was also a bit concerned. Would this new storyline feed into the typical tropes about bisexuality like so many others involving bi characters? Would the writers find a way to kill him off in a random freak accident by the end of the episode? Would Darryl “realize he’s gay” by next week?
But in each episode since, Darryl’s revelation that he is bisexual (or “both-sexual” as he called it) has neatly avoided falling into any of those traps.
In fact, I’m damn-near over the moon to report that “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” handled his coming out perfectly.
Darryl brilliantly comes out to his coworkers through a musical number (which you can watch below), while also shutting down many of the harmful myths that bisexual people are tired of hearing. Honestly, it may be the most impactful (and definitely the least-subtle) takedown of stigma around bisexuality in TV history to date.
The song is called “Getting Bi,” and it speaks to all the ways bisexuality has been misrepresented since, like, forever.
Like, the fact that people assume people who are bisexual (especially men) are actually gay, that they’re just confused, and that they haven’t fully come out of the closet yet (which, of course, is complete bulls**t).
Darryl is pretty clear about what he thinks about that:
Or the assumption that bisexuals are naturally more promiscuous than straight or gay folks (which, again, is utter nonsense).
Darryl hits the nail on the head here too:
While Darryl, a middle-aged white lawyer, certainly doesn’t represent every bi person or their experience, his character’s slow discovery and embracing of his own bisexuality is challenging viewers — and the TV industry — to get smarter about sexuality and how it’s portrayed in the media.
And it’s about damn time.
Representation isn’t just for show — it’s critical in fighting inequality.
Seeing yourself in the leaders and change-makers around you — whether it’s politicians in Washington or big-wigs in Hollywood — is important for everyone, regardless of skin color, sexual orientation, religious faith, or gender. Representation matters in shaping our world, and finally a show gets that (and didn’t pull any punches) when it comes to bisexuality.