BiMediaWatch December 2017
Three years after its debut at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival and its subsequent release in India the following year, Margarita With A Straw has finally made its way to the UK and is now available on Netflix.
Expect bad language and scenes of a very sexual nature in the story of Laila, a young woman from India with cerebral palsy, in a journey that feels very natural. Her experiences feel more like an exploration of who she is and what she likes rather than the often-seen hypersexual stereotypes screenwriters use to portray bi+ characters.
Margarita With A Straw also covers a number of other themes such as coming out to family members, race/culture, “normality”, disabilities and more. Despite having all this packed in, the film is a little slow at times. But bear with it; it is especially worthwhile for the usually elusive use of The B Word!
Coronation Street – the show which broke ground in trans representation all those years ago with Hayley – has been a lot less adventurous in its presentation of bisexuality.
Rana Nazir, an outwardly heterosexual married Muslim, has been on a plot curve of increasing interest in lesbian pal Kate. After a bust-up where Kate concludes Rana is homophobic, Rana confesses to her infatuation just before renewing her wedding vows with her husband. They make out in the back of a van and, as this is soap, someone opens the door to find them making out. Threatened with their secret being blown, Rana announces she’s pregnant. Yes it’s the loveable “bis will cheat on you” trope we have seen so often before, along with the “same-sex relationships are our secret shame” one.
Overall, I’d say ITV is letting us down there. But we are definitely on TV.
Emmerdale has had its ups and downs with the cliche of the bisexual as the heartbreaker in the past 18 months too, and it felt like the producers decided to rebalance that with their Christmas episode – a ratings-buster for ITV as one of only two shows making the Christmas Day ratings top ten that were not on BBC1.
The hour-long special devoted about twenty minutes to a mash-up of Groundhog Day and A Christmas Carol, with Robert Sugden having several runs through a loop of waking up and meeting partners past and not-very-past. The rest of the show continued the themes outside of Groundhog space.
Repeatedly told what a cheating liar he is and how he manipulates people it was a reminder of a lot of the slurs used against bi people; then again, in the case of this bisexual, he does deserve a lot of it.
Before long he’s a very confused bisexual, telling himself that “it’s not real…” and the ghosts of what might be start talking back, when it slips from slightly scary to comedy. Will the ghosts of soap episodes past, present and future change his behaviour? This is soap, so I’m not betting on it.
Brooklyn Nine Nine
In contrast, this American comedy cop show did bisexuality well at the start of December.
“I’m a pretty private person so this is kind of hard for me but here we go. I’m bisexual. Alright, I will field one minute and zero seconds of questions on this so, go,” declares Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz).
The questions rattled off are:
● How long have you known?
● What made you decide to tell us now?
● Are you seeing anyone now?
● Are you lying about her name so we can’t look her up online?
● Do you know Anne Heche?
● Why is this going so much better than when I came out to my colleagues?
● And an “oooh… I have one more” that gets a knowing retort of “I know what it’s going to be, that’s gross and I’m not going to answer.”
They’ve clearly done their research!
The followup episode with the challenges of coming out to biphobic parents is just a masterclass dropped into the middle of a comedy show. Sadly, we are about three years behind on E4 so most BCN readers won’t have the pleasure of those two for a while yet.