BiMediaWatch: July 2019

Brooklyn Nine Nine, currently airing on E4 3pm Thursdays, gave us awesome bi representation when Rosa came out as bi last season. As we go to press she’s showcasing a host of silly hairdos due to a plotline of dating a woman who’s a hairdresser. The things we do for love. But it’s a great excuse to put Stephanie Beatriz, who plays Rosa, on the cover of BCN.

Drew Barrymore zombie comedy Santa Clarita Diet (Netflix) has been a lot of goofy fun so it was a shame to hear it has been dropped by the network.

Netflix offered us Bonding this Spring, a short comedy series about a young dominatrix and her somewhat accidental assistant in New York. For people hooked on other Netflix bi shows, there’s a recurring part for D’Arcy Carden (Janet in The Good Place).

It has attracted a lot of criticism for being inauthentic and not giving good representation of either sex work or risk aware, negotiated BDSM. I’m not sure the writers were really aiming for either. Come for fluff and shiny outfits but don’t stay late for the authentic roleplay?

MTV have a bi dating show this summer: Are You The One?
Ten bi singles are thrown together and a winning couple at the end will walk away with a million dollars. So that will be a perfectly normal average bi dating experience for viewers at home to learn from.

To get a bit more meta about bi representation for a moment, GLAAD (kind of the American counterpart to Stonewall) published their summary of LGBTQ representation in film for 2018 recently. They look at the big ticket mainstream cinema releases from seven major studios, and tally up what representation there is: for 2018 they found 20 films out of 110 had included LGBTQ representation. This include 45 characters – but of those only 19 clocked up more than three minutes on screen, and sixteen appeared for less than a minute. Representation, but blink and you’ll miss it.

And of those twenty films, there were bis in three. Three. Even then they qualify this: “Several films in this report include women who are only shown in queer relationships in a transactional way – that is, they are only sleeping with another woman to gain something they need, rather than out of any genuine interest.”

Their roudup introduced me to the “Vito Russell Test”: like the Bechdel test but about LGBTQ, it askes if a film has an identifable LGBTQ person, whose personality is not principally their gender or sexual orientation, and who is tied to the plot such that if you remove them, it would significantly affect the plot. Seven of the twenty films failed.



BCN issue 156 cover

This first appeared in BCN magazine issue 156, July/August 2019.