Bi Media Watch, Summer 2013: Lost Girl and Da Vinci’s Demons

BCN 119 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 119, Summer 2013

It’s all been a bit quiet in Media Land currently. It has been confirmed that the next series of Warehouse 13 will be the last series, and will only be 6 episodes long, which is a huge shame. I hope the spin-off of Warehouse 12 happens *crosses everything*
However Lost Girl has been commissioned by SyFy for a fourth series of 13 episodes, which will air next year, while Season 3 is on SyFy in the UK at the moment.  This opened on an episode that could be boiled down to the phrase “Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Bad Girls”, with remarkably revealing orange prison jumpsuits to help give the ratings a kick.
Having established the fantasy world and its power struggles in the first two series, this year the show has had a lot more of bisexual succubus Bo’s struggles with staying faithful to one or the other of the two people she seems to be in love with.  Each fulfils a different part of what she needs – and pleasingly without that being about a preference for men or women.
This isn’t an airbrushed, all-positive presentation of bisexuality, and academics could pick through the challenging issues around the bisexual lead being someone who feeds off the sexual energy of anyone she meets and where a sexual encounter with her might be the end of you… but in the real world plenty of bi people come up against similar dilemmas to the less supernatural bits of Bo’s lovelife.
That said, the opening monologue “Life is hard when you don’t know who you are; it’s harder when you don’t know what you are. […] I was lost for years, searching while hiding, only to find that I belong to a world hidden from humans” was an amusing description of bi life in series one, but Bo really should admit she’s worked out what she is by now.
FX has been showing Da Vinci’s Demons, a show about a young Leonardo Da Vinci. It follows the standard template for historical drama nowadays, namely attractive actors, lots of sex, political wrangling, and death by various creative means. However, they have attempted to show that Leonardo did sleep with both men and women. In the first episode, a male life model offers to be a muse for Da Vinci. Whilst Da Vinci turns him down, his comments show that Leonardo finds more than the female form pleasing.
In Episode 4, Leonardo is tried for sodomy, with the same male model brought in to support the claim. At the end of the episode, Leonardo goes to see him and they have a conversation where the model tries to get Da Vinci to state that he is gay. Da Vinci’s response is ‘No one defines me’.
Da Vinci’s Demons has been criticised because the characters that were killed in the first episode had just indulged in same sex shenanigans. However in both cases, they were not killed for being gay (one was a plot device, the other because he inadvertently overheard plotting). Criticism has also been levelled at the fact that Leonardo is not gay, and has his relationship with one of the female characters as his main relationship. This could be viewed as the old ‘you can only be bisexual if you are either in relationships with men and women at the same time’ or ‘you are only bisexual if you are attracted to all genders equally’.
Da Vinci’s Demons isn’t historically accurate (I’m sure you’re all shocked by that), but I find it a nice mix of fantasy and daring do. Although I wish they would stop hitting his hands, but that’s because it makes me squick.
Jules  & Jen