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11 Portrayals Of Bisexuality On TV Shows That Were Kinda Problematic, TBH

It's not that complicated.

1. On Glee, when Kurt described bisexuality as a "term gay guys use when they want to hold hands with girls and feel like a normal person":

Kurt: "Bisexual's a term that gay guys in high school use when they want to hold hands with girls and feel like a normal person for a change"
Fox

This could have been a great lesson on anti-bi sentiment within the community, but I kind of find it hard to believe that's what they were going for here. Santana also later said that it was great having a new girlfriend she didn't "have to worry about straying for penis."

2. On Degrassi: Next Class, when Tristan repeatedly invalidated his boyfriend Miles' bisexuality and his character was never called out for it:

Tristan: "You can't even decide if you like boys or girls," "Miles is firmly on boys now," "Is there another name for someone who humps anything that moves?"
Netflix

Tristan's character also called Miles a "man-whore" after learning he'd been sexually active with girls in the past. When Tristan had an STI scare in Season 1, his first reaction was also to assume he must have gotten it from Miles, even though Tristan had numerous other partners. While the writers have somewhat acknowledged this, it was never actually called out on the show.

3. On Sex and the City, when Carrie found out the guy she was seeing was bisexual and called it "a layover on the way to Gay Town."

Carrie: "I'm not even sure that bisexuality exists, I think it's just a layover on the way to Gay Town"
HBO

In addition, Miranda's character referred to bisexuality as "greedy double-dipping," and Charlotte said that bisexual men are the reason there are no single men left for them to date. I know this episode aired in 2000, but geez.

4. On The O.C., when Marissa started dating Alex and all of the characters just assumed she was "experimenting with a lesbian phase":

Julie: "I'll see your former fugitive flame and raise you a lesbian daughter," Kirsten: "I'm sure it's just a phase"
Fox

Granted, this reaction was fairly realistic coming from Julie, but it isn't really challenged, either. Marissa and Alex's relationship was meant to last all the way through the end of Season 2, but Alex's character was abruptly written off the show after backlash from anti-LGBTQ organizations. The relationship, and Marissa's sexuality, were basically never mentioned again.

5. On The L Word, when Alice's bisexuality was treated as "indecisiveness":

Dana: "When are you gonna make up your mind between dick and pussy? And spare us the gory bisexual details"
Showtime

Don't get me wrong โ€” the show was definitely considered pretty progressive for its time โ€” but a lot of things have not aged well.

6. On Big Mouth, when Ali described bisexuality as "so binary":

Ali says pansexuality means she's "into girls boys and everyone in between," classmate says they thought that was bisexuality, she says no and that bisexuality is "so binary"
Netflix

The episode drew backlash for its implications that only pansexuality includes nonbinary and trans people and that bisexuality is inherently anti-trans. The creators later apologized and said they "missed the mark with the definition of bisexuality vs. pansexuality."

7. On Faking It, when Shane said that men couldn't be bisexual and that it's just a step toward admitting they're gay:

MTV

Shane's character also called dating someone who identifies as bisexual a "lesson in insecurity." While the writers have said they do not endorse this point of view, Shane's words are never really called out or framed as harmful, either.

8. On Orange Is the New Black, when Piper, who had shown attraction to men and women, was consistently referred to as either a lesbian or straight:

Piper looks very serious
Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

To the show's credit, they did finally use the word "bisexual" in a character's offhand remark in Season 7. It kind of felt like too little, too late, though, especially given that the show was so progressive in so many other areas. Why was this so difficult?

9. On Will & Grace, when Will described pansexuality as "a rest stop on the way to homo" and the show pretty much consistently treated bisexuality as a joke:

Will and Grace talking to each other
NBC

The revival actually did attempt to tackle the subject of bisexual erasure head-on, although critical reception of it was mixed. Like The L Word, the show was definitely groundbreaking for LGBTQ representation at the time, but it doesn't mean there weren't still problems with the writing โ€” it's not as if bisexuality wasn't invented until 2017 or something.

10. On Degrassi: The Next Generation, when Paige later dismissed her relationship with Alex as "just a phase":

Paige and Alex
CTV

Of course, it's entirely possible for people to change their labels or even realize they're not queer at all. However, given that the show had previously described Paige as bisexual and spent so much time on Paige and Alex's relationship, it was disappointing that the writers seemed to just drop Paige's sexuality entirely after Alex's departure.

11. And finally, on Queer as Folk, when Brian said it's "not okay to like both":

Brian and Lindsay
Showtime

โ€œItโ€™s okay to like cock, and itโ€™s okay to like pussy โ€” just not at the same time. So, which one do you like?โ€ YIKES, YIKES, YIKES.

Looking for more ways to get involved? Check out all of BuzzFeed's posts celebrating Pride 2021.

Kevin Valente / BuzzFeed

Correction: An earlier version of this post misidentified a Sex and the City character. It has since been corrected.

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