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The Evil Bisexual: Television’s Representation of Male Bisexuality

The Evil Bisexual: Television’s Representation of Male Bisexuality

The Evil Bisexual: Television’s Representation of Male Bisexuality

Last week The Atlantic published a piece titled The Trope of the Evil Television Bisexual.” It’s definitely worth a read, but just in case you’re pressed for time, I’ll summarize it here. Bisexual characters, on the whole, are on the rise on TV. (Yay!) Of the recurring LGBT characters on TV, 28 percent are bisexual. (Still a little low for me, but yay!) And guess what? We’re all evil. (Yay! Wait, what?)

So yeah, while there has been an increase in bisexual characters on the screen, we are being depicted as ethically reprehensible and well ... evil. The reasoning for this depiction is simple. Since our sexual preferences are flexible, so too are our morals. Since our sexuality is supposedly “greedy,” we must be “greedy” in other aspects of our lives as well — or so the logic goes. This combination of greed and moral ambiguity makes for a very compelling villain.

Spencer Kornhaber, author of The Atlantic’s piece, goes into detail regarding Frank Underwood’s sexual affairs (from House of Cards). As Korhaber writes, Frank’s bisexuality is “just a detail meant to flesh out the inner life of a man who murders, betrays, and bribes to get what he wants.” He also quotes the 2015 edition of GLAAD’s annual report on the state of minorities on TV, which included other evil bisexual men like “Cyrus Henstridge on E!’s The Royals who last season seduced a member of parliament and then blackmailed him into helping the Queen; Mr. Robot’s Tyrell who sleeps with a male office assistant to install spyware on the man’s phone; and the traitorous Chamberlain Milus Corbett on FX’s The Bastard Executioner, whose sexual liaisons have so far been depicted as a way for him to exert power.”

I’m currently watching American Horror Story, and it’s clear that Matt Bomer’s and Lady Gaga’s characters are bisexual (although the label has not yet been used). They’re also vampires who murder, torture, and manipulate people. When the show revealed the characters’ sexual fluidity, I thought, Yeah, that definitely makes sense. They wouldn’t just be straight. At the time I didn’t think anything of it. I was just excited to see some bi characters on TV. After reading Kornhaber’s piece I realize how fucked up that is. They’re vampires who seduce, torture, and kill people, so they must be bi? They have kinky sex, so they must be bi? They’re greedy narcissists, so of course they’re bi? I’m bi, and I don’t subscribe to any of these stereotypes, yet it made perfect sense to me that they were bi. In fact, if they were exclusively straight, I would have thought, Well, that’s unrealistic; they should definitely be bi.  

This is why television is so powerful. Whether we like it or not, we don’t view every single show through a critical, sociological lens. I’m watching AHS for two reasons and two reasons only. One: to have the shit scared out of me. Two: to ogle the ridiculously attractive stars. While watching, I’m not analyzing how the characters subtly perpetuate biphobic stereotypes. I’m marveling at Lady Gaga’s ass and hoping that FX slips up and I get to see a glimpse of Matt Bomer’s dick.

I’m a simple man.

And while I’m ogling all the absurdly beautiful actors on the show, I’m also, unconsciously, taking in bisexual stereotypes, and in my case, internalizing them. Herein lies the danger. This is why bisexual males on TV need to be complex and realistic characters. Bisexuals face enough troubles as is, without the perpetuation of these stereotypes. Bisexuals are more closeted than their gay and lesbian peers, and they have higher rates of drug abuse and higher rates of depression and anxiety.

So I beg you big-shot Hollywood producers, please write a show with a main bisexual male character who isn’t evil or confused, who hasn’t been sexually abused, and isn’t using his sexuality to exert his power. Let’s create a show about a cute, tall bisexual boy who is having some struggles dating and is just trying to find someone who will love and cherish him. I’m more than happy to consult. Besides, who wouldn’t want to watch that?

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