Bisexuality in Films and TV Shows
Where’s The Bisexual Representation in the Media?
It goes without saying that LGBT+ representation in any form of media has been an uphill battle. How’s the bisexual representation?
There has been some progress on the representation front for us bisexuals but finding accurate representation, in all its forms, is another matter in and of itself.
Some shows have found its way into popular streaming services such as Hulu’s The Bisexual, and mainstream services such as Fox’s Star, and CBS’s S.W.A.T., and more. Why isn’t there more male representation? Is it in the works? Or only independent representation?
Who (or What) Is To Blame For Lack Of Representation?
Are we complicit in the lack of representation if we lack the skills to create more male bisexual representation? Is it a matter of finding proper motivation to learn such skills? Sadly, we live in an overly saturated “creative market”, making representation both more possible all the while more difficult.
Studies have shown that those who don’t know an LGBT person in real life are heavily influenced by the LGBT characters they see onscreen. This can help foster understanding and accelerate acceptance of the LGBT community. – GLAAD (April 22nd, 2016)
While it is said “LGBT characters”, this doesn’t necessarily include male bisexual characters.
In 2014, a report titled “Understanding Issues Facing Bisexual Americans” concluded bisexual men are rarely culturally acknowledged, face higher amounts of discrimination (generally), and stand a greater chance of experiencing intimate partner violence.
Within the last decade, there has been a positive stride in both quantity and quality for representing bisexual women. Far less has there been for positive representation for bisexual men.
How Do The Numbers Stack Up?
In 2016, GLAAD provided us with the “Where We Are on TV” report. While there has been a significant increase for both bisexual women and men both, there is still, in 2018, twice as many bisexual women on cable television compared with bisexual men. Only 3% (2 bisexual male characters) appeared on primetime programming on broadcast networks and 13% (18 characters) on cable networks.
Of the 271 regular and recurring LGBT characters on scripted broadcast, cable, and streaming programming, 76 (28%) are counted as bisexual. This group is made up of 53 women and 23 men.
The majority of bisexual male representation still falls into dangerous stereotypes:
- Bisexual characters who are depicted as untrustworthy, prone to infidelity, and/or lacking a sense of morality
- Characters who use sex as a means of manipulation or who are lacking the ability to form genuine relationships
- Associations with self-destructive behavior
- And treating a character’s attraction to more than one gender as a temporary plot device that is rarely addressed again.
While representation has increased for LGBT+ characters on any format, with bisexuals making up the majority of them, there is still the growing threat of indifference. We’re often portrayed as “confused”, “liars”, and “hypersexualized with a means to an end”. A perfect example of this is Cyrus Henstridge (The Royals), seducing a male member of parliament only to later blackmail him into helping the Queen.
Perpetuating these tropes undermines the truth that bisexuality is real and that bi people deserve to be treated equally and fairly” – GLAAD media strategist and bisexual advocate Alexandra Bolles.
Bisexuality, especially for men, is real – it is a unique identity. Television and Film alike have equal opportunities to erase the stigma and foster positive growth. Thankfully, that is happening.
Slowly…but it’s happening.
Further Reading: “Understanding Issues Facing Bisexual Americans”