Bi Media Watch: Autumn 2013

After a bit of a quiet summer on the media front, BBC1’s Casualty took me by surprise (12 Oct) when it featured a bisexual love triangle. A girl who had been brought into the ward found out that her boyfriend had been cheating on her……with her brother. Whilst the Twitter-sphere had a bit of a grumble about the girlfriend’s last line to her boyfriend when he said ‘I think I’m probably bisexual’, the infamous comment of ‘You know what they say, bi now, gay later!’, I feel that it was perfectly in character as someone who had been hurt by two people that she cared about, so she wanted to hurt back. I’m more impressed that Casualty actually used the ‘bisexual’ word, rather than have the standard TV trope of straight to gay.

Other exciting news this week is that the character of Mulan on Disney’s Once Upon A Time (shown on Channel 5 in the UK) is bisexual. A scene in the episode ‘Quite a Common Fairy’ shows Mulan going to see Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) to reveal her feelings towards her. Aurora excitedly tells Mulan that she is pregnant, and Mulan leaves without saying anything to her. Mulan had previously had feelings for Aurora’s husband Philip (shown in season two). Interestingly the majority of the media outlets that have published this have used ‘bisexual’ to describe Mulan’s sexuality, again moving away from the ‘she fancies a woman, she must be gay’ traditional response. Is this a sea change in reporting? I certainly hope so! Entertainment Weekly even said that Mulan was ‘one of the few bisexual characters on TV whose orientation isn’t a ready-made punchline. (Looking at you, Glee.)’

That is a reference to recent Glee episode (5:02) ‘Tina in the Sky with Diamonds’, where Santana, who had previously dated bisexual character Brittany delights that, ‘I finally have a girlfriend who I don’t have to worry about straying for penis.’ Because that’s what all bisexual women do. It’s not the first time Glee has been casually biphobic, and it probably won’t be the last.

Still on the US side of the pond, Orange is the New Black has become one of the buzz shows this summer.  Sadly I’ve not yet had chance to see it (I don’t have Netflix, which is where the series is shown). The central character is shown to be attracted to more than one gender. She has a male fiancé when she goes into prison, and her ex-girlfriend is a fellow prisoner. The show rarely uses the term bisexual though, instead using terms like ‘ex-lesbian’, ‘straight’ and ‘gay’. There is mention of the Kinsey scale, and several reviewers have said that the show portrays bisexuality as more complex than ‘straight now/gay now’. If anyone has a good review of the show in them, go for itJ. There is a second series scheduled for 2014.

Back over in the UK, there was a brief bit of bi visibility on Midlands Today, when the bisexual walking group for the Birmingham Pride parade was briefly shown on their Pride news report.

There was also the return of Touch of Cloth, which has a bi character in the shape of DI Anne Oldman. Touch of Cloth is a Charlie Brooker comedy that takes off all of those intense police dramas where the central character fights against the system/ procedure/ their own demons in order to solve the crime their way. Every single cliché is used in the show, along with some of the most groan-worthy double entendres I’ve heard for some time. I did particularly like the fact that each time a character is referred to as gay, they correct with ‘Bi Jack’ or ‘Bi Oldman’, and the response is always ‘Bye’. It’s a daft little play on words, but it amuses me greatly. Touch of Cloth series 3 will be broadcast in 2014.

Finally away from TV-land, the Independent published its yearly Pink List (13/10), and BiUK boss Meg Barker was featured for the first time. Next year our wonderful editrix?

Jules