BiMediaWatch: Summer 2017

In May Holby City gave us a classic bisexual “love triangle”. Well, more of a love vee. Ben ‘Lofty’ Chiltern (Lee Mead) crossed over to Holby from Casualty earlier this year, and like all good soap characters there’s past waiting to catch up.

A patient turns up on the ward in whose recovery he shows a little too much interest in and other staff notice. He brushes it off as being kind of a family friend; that it’s just his ex’s brother.

There are tears as viewers get clued in with a couple of scenes: Ben with the patient, Lenny, talking about how they briefly held hands at a concert and whether it meant anything. How afterwards Ben left Lenny’s sister at the altar without ever explaining why he couldn’t marry her. A couple of eager kisses ensue.

Then Ben with the ex-fiance in question, for whom a penny has at last dropped, who manages a blend of sympathy and sneering about how Ben must have been into her brother.

“None of this means I didn’t love you. I really did.”
“Just not enough.”

Eventually he has to talk to someone about what’s happened, as his boss protests that he has let the relationship get in the way:

“I couldn’t marry Alice because I was in love with her brother. (pause) I’ve never said that out loud.”
“You let that relationship cloud your judgement and you’ve got form in this area.”

That’s form for not paying attention on the ward, not for wanting to date his fiance’s brother.

“Alice… made me feel good, and I hadn’t felt good in a long time. And then I met her brother and, we didn’t even get on… until the accident when Alice called to say that he was in the ICU and that… That was when I knew that I loved him.”
“Do you still love him?”
“I think I still love them both.”

It’s very teary, as you’d expect from someone confronting the idea that they love two people, that this has ended their relationship with one of the two and now they are loved by neither.
The word bisexual never made it in to that script, and this being soap land (and hospital soap at that with its higher turnover of characters and issues) it’s not the first person on the show to be torn between two prospective lovers. Ah well, when shift ends let’s pop out for a half-full glass of bi visibility.

House of Cards

The fifth season of House of Cards arrived in May. The drama set in and around the White House focuses on a Machiavellian politician and his equally power-hungry wife, though it is struggling to be more far-fetched than the current presidency. Frank’s bisexuality was only touched on this season in passing, while he and his wife’s open relationship was more important to the plot.

Sense8

Netflix have dropped Sense8 – a show that has been hugely popular with bi viewers with its representation of bi and LGBT characters but reportedly just didn’t get enough viewers overall. It will be back for a two-hour-long finale though, as a result of online outcry when the dropping of the show was announced.

Who Isn’t Bi?

Doctor Who adventure The Eaters of Light did that sci-fi thing of showing us a world with different assumptions about sexuality. Usually that’s a story we get in an enlightened future but this was a Roman past.

The legendary ‘lost’ Ninth Legion of the Roman Empire are set upon by an alien for plot reasons, and are all but wiped out. After the survivors meet the Doctor’s lesbian companion Bill one of them makes a polite pass at her. He takes rejection well when told that she is only into women and compares it to a fellow soldier who is a man solely interested in men…

“I don’t like men, that way,” says Bill.
“What, not ever?”
“No, not ever.”
“Oh. Right, I got it. You’re like Vitus then. He only likes men.”
“Some men, Lucius. Better looking men than you,” Vitus interjects.
“I don’t think it’s narrow minded. I think it’s fine, you know what you like.”
“And you like both?”
“I’m just ordinary. I like men and women.”
“Hah. Isn’t this all very… Modern…” reflects Bill.
“Hey, not everybody has to be modern. I think it’s very sweet that you’re so… Restricted.”
“Cheers,” says Bill awkwardly.

No-one likes their sexuality being downgraded to second-class, and a moment ago she thought this was a conversation about how all options were fine and equal.

But it’s a rare moment of television presenting the idea that we are all bisexual until found to be otherwise, rather than heterosexuality as the default. Perhaps showing the world through a lens only sci-fi, in whatever age, can as yet get away with.