The Bisexual is now streaming on Hulu.
[Ed. Note: Being that TV and City is on a bit of a hiatus, this article has not been edited.]
By Ariba Bhuvad
If you’re looking to check out an eccentric series this weekend, The Bisexual might be your cup of tea, but let’s just say, it’s not in my top 5 by any means. Originally a Channel 4 series, The Bisexual follows Leila (Desiree Akhavan), a lesbian who breaks up with her long-time girlfriend after she proposes to her. After the breakup, Leila finds herself wanting to understand if she’s also attracted to men, and what this means for her sexuality. Along with starring as the lead character, Akhavan also wrote and directed the series to address her discomfort with labels when it comes to your sexuality.
The series is essentially about Leila trying to understand who she is as a person while trying to explore her sexuality and what it means to be a lesbian versus a bisexual. The Bisexual explores the uncertainty that comes with identifying yourself sexually, and the resistance one may face if you find yourself in “the middle.”
While watching the series, I felt like it was a bit all over the place with its message. Was it saying being bisexual is bad? Was it saying that it’s just part of the sexual journey for some? Or was it a brown girl trying to figure out her self-identity with her cultural identity? It could have been all of that but it just didn’t come off as clear, and it just felt like the series may be perceived as a hit or miss for viewers.
Of course, the writing hones in on a particular metaphor for Leila’s situation and because of that, some may find themselves relating to it in a way some may not. It’s hard to describe why the show doesn’t exactly work but it may also be a result of whether or not it’s relatable. I wish that the narrative was written in a manner that all could understand Leila’s plight but it was laser-focused on a struggle that people watching may not click with. I think that’s where the show failed to shine, although the cast was surprisingly on point and convincing, especially Akhavan.
Part of what makes The Bisexual a mediocre series is because it felt at times that the series also did not understand what point it was trying to make. I think The Bisexual is trying to explore the taboos of bisexuality, and how it is perceived in the LGBTQ community and it tries hard to explain this particular point, but fails to do so and tries too hard to be comedic in the process.
Kudos to Akhavan and her creative team for the fearless approach they took with this topic and while it stumbled in getting its point across, it may be a show that some can connect with and relate to. But in an era where sexuality is at the forefront of many movements, the show could have simply done a much better job in explaining the difficulties one might face in such a situation versus just constantly resorting to sex to explain it.
I give The Bisexual a C-.