BiMediaWatch: December 2019

Over the years at BiMediaWatch we’ve noted that the summer tends to be lean on screen but as the nights draw in the telly gets better – and better for bi and queer representation too.

Indeed let’s kick off with the tiny ray of joy that is Let It Snow, the rarity of a Christmas film with queer representation beyond “token gay friend with no second dimension to their personality”. No further spoilers though, in case you manage to crowbar it on to your family’s seasonal Netflix viewing and don’t want to know the ending.

Then there’s the BBC’s coverage of Last Night Of The Proms giving us this issue’s glorious bisexual cape cover. Mezzo-soprano opera star Jamie Barton delivered Rule Britannia to the Royal Albert Hall wrapped in the pink, purple and blue of the bisexual flag – with eyeshadow to match.

As the song reaches its climax she raises aloft a rainbow flag; the hall erupts in delight. The BBC commentator carefully doesn’t mention what either of these symbols mean while this happens, just that Jamie is “entering into the flag-waving spirit” of the evening.

Jamie told The Slate beforehand: “There were two very big things that I wanted to touch on with my guest appearance: one was my own walk with body positivity. And the other is bi visibility, pride, particularly with this year being the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. It just made every bit of sense to me that when I walk out for Rule Britannia, I’m going to have a Pride flag when the audience is going to have Union Jacks.”

Back on Netflix, The Good Place is back for its final run, albeit with a break across new year. This has given us lots of fine bi representation in at least two characters (I’m not sure how to categorise the sexuality of the Janets) and their sexuality has, a bit like the bisexuality in Torchwood, simply been who people were rather than a big reveal thing.

The coming out experience needs to be represented but the just getting on with your life and happening to be bi thing needs to be told on screen too.

Insatiable returned for a second season where Patty Bladell’s (Debby Ryan) pageant queen career surprisingly continues after the show wrapped up its first run on the deaths of Christian and Stella Rose. I’m not sure if what drew me in was the serial killing or the way hasty romantic trysts are always held at the Halfway Inn, but there is a lot of queer in the show. Beware spoilers follow. For a start there’s the gay cop whose investigations are somewhat compromised by having made out with a key suspect in a steam room, and an awkward father / child conversation about sexuality and acceptance – all wrapped in a soundtrack and musical references that would sit comfortably in most of the gay bars I’ve ever frequented.

In season two our love triangle between Bob, Bob and Angie now becomes a love trapezoid with Rudy (Vincent Rodriguez III, co-star of Crazy Ex Girlfriend). Nonnie at last finds love after pining after a straight woman for way too long. Perhaps there’s hope for us all.

I say there’s a lot of queer in the show. There’s a heap of bisexuality in that mix – it’s not pretty but it is comedy-drama honesty about how bis get told to “pick a team” and can have their sexual orientation erased by the people closest to them.

Atypical got a third season with more of the developing love triangle – or ‘v’ – between Casey, Izzie and Evan. It’s a relateable bi story of uncertainty over who and what you want. But please let the three of them watch or read something about polyamoury before any fourth season so they can end the awkwardness and all get some happy.

Wrapping up their remarkable bi lineup for now, the streaming channel also offered us The Politician, which is not great telly so far but does give us the cute poly trio pictured at the top of the page here.

It’s the end of the year so a wish for 2020: that one of the UK networks picks up The Conners from the USA, the show that Roseanne has become since Roseanne had to leave under a cloud. It has great queer family life representation and a set of characters many of us in the UK grew to love in the 1990s: surely it is due an airing over here?