5 Positive Examples of Bi Representation on TV Today

Although bi+ people make up nearly 40% of the LGBT+ community, there is a severe lack of representation of common bisexual themes on television today. From simply lacking bi characters to portraying characters as having serious relationships with both men and women but still using binary labels for their sexualities, to poor representation of bi characters as “confused” or promiscuous, it can be extremely difficult to find a positive and accurate representation of bisexuality in the media. However, some shows have managed to get it right. Here are five examples of positive and accurate bisexual representation on television today.

 

1. Rosa Diaz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)

Image result for rosa diaz you people already know too much about me gif

Rosa Diaz recently came out as bisexual on the fifth season of the police sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Diaz has been portrayed as having multiple male love interests in past seasons of the show, but season five introduces the first female love interest for this New York detective. Well-known for sharing very little about her personal life with her coworkers, Diaz came out to a fellow detective by simply stating “I’m dating a woman. I’m bi.” Following this interaction, she chooses to share this part of her identity with the rest of her precinct and with her parents. This is a wonderful example of bi representation on television today. 

Unlike many negative examples of LGBT+ representation in the media, Rosa Diaz is written as a three-dimensional character with a personality and a plot that exist outside of her sexuality. Additionally, Diaz actually uses the label bi – a rare occurrence among bi+ characters on television. Rather than fueling harmful and biphobic stereotypes by having Diaz identify as “gay now,” discounting all of her previous serious relationships with people of the opposite gender, the writers of Brooklyn Nine-Nine chose to allow Diaz to use the label bi on the show. This was an important decision that gives visibility to a large part of the LGBT+ community that is so often ignored.

 

2. Eleanor Shellstrop (The Good Place)

Eleanor Shellstrop of The Good Place was recently confirmed as bisexual by William Jackson Harper, the actor who plays Chidi Anagonye on the same show. From the start of the show, it is made clear that Eleanor has a very flirtatious relationship with fellow Good Place resident Tahani. She describes her as a “sexy skyscraper” and “tall and glamorous with cappuccino skin and curves everywhere.” and she even admits that she might be “legit into Tahani." In an interview with Harper, he stated that Eleanor is “super bi,” and that there is still very much a possibility for a romantic plot between Eleanor and Tahani.  Eleanor’s sexuality is not a main focus of the show, and Harper appreciates that fact. He explains that “It’s not the reason for the show and it’s not a thing that is harped on, it’s just who she is.” While Eleanor has not yet confirmed on the show that she identifies as bi, fans are looking forward to the possibility of new labels and new romance in season 4. 

 

3. Nomi Segal (Grown-ish)

Nomi Segal is established as bi in the first episode of the teen comedy Grown-ish, a fact that already provides examples of great casual representation of bisexuality in television. However, the most important instance of bi representation on the show does not occur until episode 4, when Nomi, while out with a female date at a bar, is hit on by a man. Her date reacts very negatively to this interaction, stating that she doesn’t want the two of them to be some straight guy’s lesbian threesome fetish. Nomi defends the man in question, revealing to her date that she’s bi and that the situation did not make her feel uncomfortable. Rather than accepting Nomi’s sexuality, her date responds that she doesn’t “want to be some girl’s experiment.” This is a really great example of how biphobia can exist within the LGBT+ community. While being used as sexual experimentation by a straight woman is a valid fear for many lesbian women, that experimentation is not the same as bisexuality, and it should not be treated as such. 

The show continues with this theme as Nomi leaves her date to pursue the man that had flirted with her earlier.  The two really begin to hit it off until the man reveals to her that he also identifies as bi and has been with men in the past. Nomi immediately appears extremely uncomfortable with this new knowledge, taking a sip of her drink and turning to a friend with a wide-eyed expression of discomfort. This interaction reveals both the prevalence of biphobia within the LGBT+ community and the double standard that exists between bi men and women. Nomi has just finished defending her sexuality to her date and complains to this man about how invalidated that interaction made her feel, yet when he reveals that he is also bi, she is just as uncomfortable with the news as her date was. Grown-ish is an important show both for bi representation and for exploring deeper LGBT+ themes that, while prevalent in the community, are seldom talked about.

 

4. Gael (Good Trouble)

The popular Freeform family drama The Fosters has never been known to shy away from heavy topics, and it seems that its new spin-off series Good Trouble is following in its footsteps with a new male bisexual character named Gael. Gael is introduced as being in a short-lived love triangle with Callie and Mariana, foster sisters who have just moved into a communal living space in Los Angeles in which Gael also lives. Mariana and Gael are coworkers and she develops a serious crush on him, but before realizing that Gael is the man that her foster sister has been crushing on, Callie sleeps with him. While having a serious conversation about the situation by the pool, Callie and Mariana accidentally see through his apartment window that Gael is hooking up with a man. The next scene shows Mariana downing her drink and saying, “you can have him.” 

While Callie does choose to continue pursuing Gael, she struggles with feelings of discomfort about his disinterest in monogamy and with the fact that he has been with other men, and she finds it difficult to separate her negative emotions about those two factors. This show is interesting because it is a positive example of male bisexuality, a very underrepresented part of the LGBT+ community, and it also forces one of the main characters of the show to sort through her own biphobia. Callie was adopted by a lesbian couple and her little brother, Jude, identifies as gay, and she has always been extremely supportive of these members of her family. Her uncomfortable reaction to Gael’s sexuality reveals how subconscious biphobic opinions can still exist in people who find themselves otherwise accepting of LGBT+ identities. Callie must let go of that biphobia and accept Gael’s identity if she has any hope of being in a healthy relationship with him, so fans are excited to see how this storyline will develop.

 

5. Darryl Whitefeather (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)

As few and far between as bi characters on television today seem to be, the CW romantic comedy/musical Crazy Ex-Girlfriend shocked fans after announcing its third bisexual character in season 3. Known for turning common and harmful tv tropes on their head, this show’s positive portrayal of bisexuality and of coming out has garnered much praise from its audience. After sharing a playful goodbye kiss with Josh, Darryl Whitefeather, recently divorced from his wife, begins to heavily question his sexuality. He continues questioning his identity until having a revelation while at the gym that he is attracted to both genders, becoming the first character on the show to identify as bisexual. He then sings a song called “Gettin’ Bi,” an overjoyed, 80’s style bop full of bi puns that subverts multiple common stereotypes about bisexual men while still managing to be a fun and goofy song. 

Darryl’s coming-out story is so important because it is a rare example of a bi man on TV who is portrayed exploring his sexuality, finding a comfortable label that he identifies with, and entering into a relationship with another man, as he does end up dating Josh. This is also a wonderful portrayal of the positive aspects of coming out. Many coming-out stories in the media are fraught with pain, fear, and unacceptance, so the overwhelming joy that Darryl feels upon realizing that he is bisexual and sharing that with his friends is extremely refreshing. Darryl’s coming-out experience also prompts another character named Maya to come out as bi, and the show later casually reveals that Valencia, who has previously dated men on the show, is now dating a woman. Overall, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s positive and normalizing portrayal of bisexuality and its refusal to settle for just one “token gay character” are very important for bi visibility in television today.

 

While these shows provide great examples of bi representation in the media, there needs to be even more representation on screen. This is just the beginning!

 

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