Though Pride Month is coming to an end, your LGBTQ film and television education should continue! While there have been many great films and shows that focus on the gay experience, it can be tough to spot bisexual storylines, since characters are sometimes just read as gay or straight depending on the person they're currently dating. But luckily for us, we're currently in a bi revolution and we know that's not how bisexuality works. This year alone, there's been a huge surge in bisexual characters on television—a trend that's been explored extensively.
So whether you simply want to diversify your media intake or looking for some bi characters you can relate to, here's a list of the shows and movies to watch on Netflix for excellent bisexual representation:
Jane the Virgin
Jane the Virgin might be one of the most subtly progressive shows on television. With an over-dramatic telanovela plot—Jane (Gina Rodriguez) is a virgin who becomes pregnant after accidentally becoming artificially inseminated with the specimen of her longtime crush, Rafael—the show is grounded when it needs to be. Jane explores issues of race, class, and gender—and looks at immigration issues with laser focus. In season four, Rafael's ex and Jane's occasional nemesis Petra Solano (the best character on the show, in my opinion) falls for her lawyer JR, played by Rosario Dawson. While Petra had been portrayed as a bit of a maneater in previous seasons, her feelings for JR are taken seriously and treated with care—while simultaneously not being treated like a big deal. The biggest shock the show's characters feel regarding the budding relationship is at the fact that Petra even has feelings at all! With its upcoming season as its last, be sure to catch up on Jane the Virgin and follow this lovely relationship!
One of the silliest sitcoms (and perhaps one of the last worth watching) on network television, is NBC’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine. A parody of procedurals, BK99 skewers the genre and tells the story of Jake Peralta, a detective in Brooklyn’s 99th precinct who is in constant conflict with his new commanding officer, Ray Holt. As the show progresses, the entire precinct becomes a type of unorthodox family, replete with marriages, friendships, hookups, and incredibly progressive portraits of LGTBQ community members. (The show won a 2018 GLAAD media award!) At first, Ray Holt led the charge as the commanding officer who's been serving as an openly gay cop since 1987. While Holt's sexuality has been a simple, pre-existing part of the BK99 fabric, Detective Rosa Diaz (played by the wonderfully bi & proud Stephanie Beatriz) has had a different journey. Rosa primarily dated men throughout the series, but in season five, she comes out as bisexual to the force and reveals that she's dating a woman. Fox canceled BK99, but luckily NBC picked it up for a sixth season, so we’ll get to see more about Rosa’s love life soon!
Honestly, there might not be a show more wild or inventive than Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. It tackles mental health with a skilled, yet light hand, and it manages to pump out catchy and insightful songs! One standout is "Gettin' Bi" sung by Darryl Whitefeather, protagonist Rachel's lovely and emotional boss, who announces his bisexuality after his divorce and starts dating a man. Darryl’s openness is one of the best part of the show, and he's not even the only bisexual character! Valencia, ex-of Rachel’s on/off/obsession Josh, begins dating a woman in season three, and it's presented simply while making total sense. More than being one of the only musical shows on television, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is also one of the few shows to portray bisexual men, which will make it hard to say goodbye after its final season this fall.
This might sound shallow but Riverdale is one of the hottest shows on television. It might not be the most "intellectual," but it's weird and undeniably fun. Based on the iconic Archie comics, this deeply sexed-up version starts off with the murder of popular football player Jason Blossom, which leads the Archie gang to uncover Riverdale's hidden darkness. The show is frequently melodramatic, but it does handle some storylines with tact and realism. In season two, we're introduced to Toni Topaz, a bisexual badass who is a member of the Southside Serpents (Jughead’s gang). Toni strikes up a friendship, and then more, with Cheryl Blossom—cheerleader, sister to the slain Jason, and daughter to two certifiable psychopaths. Cheryl explores her feelings for Toni in a lovely, delicate way that's definitely worth watching!
The Dragon Tattoo Trilogy
To be clear: These are not the films starring Rooney mara, or the upcoming ones with Claire Foy—these are the OG movies starring Noomi Rapace. At this point, the trilogy based on Stieg Larsson's novels are well known: They follow Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant hacker and surveillance agent who helps a journalist solve crimes. As a survivor of sexual violence, Salandar also goes rogue to help other women suffering at the hands of Bad Men. Rapace might be the best Salandar, full of rage and ice, but fire at her core. Though Salandar gets involved with her work partner, journalist Mikael Blomkvist, she is also involved seriously with several women throughout the series. It's presented as simply part of who she is—nothing more, nothing less! If you want to watch a bisexual woman get revenge on abusive men, this is the series to watch—but be warned: It is very violent and has tough depictions of sexual assault.
Gillian Anderson as a bisexual detective hunting down a serial killer—has someone been reading my erotic dream diary? Anderson stars as the cool, calm, and collected Stella Gibson, who's looking for the criminal who targets women. While Stella dates men, she also becomes involved with a woman played by Archie Panjabi—yes, Kalinda the bisexual icon from The Good Wife! The Fall is the bisexual crime drama you didn't know you needed.
Orange Is The New Black
Let’s preface this by saying that Orange Is The New Black is not that great these days. With season six coming up in July, it's hard not to feel like the prison drama has overstayed its welcome—but when the Jenji Kohan dramedy hit Netflix in 2013, it felt positively revolutionary. Based on Piper Kerman’s memoir, OINTB was a show with a primarily female cast that explored the prison industrial complex, race, class, sexuality, and more. Though its quality has lessened, its initial seasons surrounding Piper's bisexuality were always handled well. Incarcerated for smuggling drug money for her ex-girlfriend, Piper ends up in prison with said ex while her male fiance pines away for her. The Piper and Alex relationship is super fraught and super sexy—but maybe just stick to the first few seasons.
I know Grey’s Anatomy has been on the air for 100,000 years at this point—with no signs of slowing down—but its epic run has also presented the opportunity to explore pretty much every imaginable storyline. The soapy medical procedural initially followed Dr. Meredith Grey and her fellow interns as they learned the ins and outs of the doctor life, but the cast has long expanded and gone through many iterations. One of the best storylines is that of Dr. Callie Torres (played by the wonderful Sara Ramirez): She initially dates men but later has relationships with several women—and even goes on to marry one. Of course, there’s a fair share of soapy goodness, but Torres has been the longest running LGBTQ character in television history and inspired Ramirez herself to to come out as bisexual.
Thor: Ragnarok is a certifiable thirst-fest—directed by Taika Waititi, starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Idris Elba, and Cate Blanchett as a villain—could a movie ask for more in terms of sex appeal? Yes, yes it can. Because Tessa Thompson plays Valkyrie—a warrior who was originally portrayed in the comics as a blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman, but is a mixed0race bisexual superhero in the film. Unlike the other two Thor movies, which are kind of a drag, Ragnarok is funny and joyful, even as Thor has to fight to stop the destruction of his home planet. Thompson is a bright spot of the film, and has been thrilled to talk about Valkyrie’s sexuality and future in the MCU. Also,Thompson herself just came out as bisexual, which makes everything even better! Can we get a Valkyrie stand-alone ASAP?
Halt & Catch Fire
While the AMC tech drama Halt & Catch Fire never caught on, hopefully it can gain the fan base it deserves in its second life on Netflix. Starring McKenzie Davis and Lee Pace, the show takes place over the span of ten years and explores a fictional insider's look at the growth of the personal computer and the birth of the internet. It’s a really interesting perspective on the beginnings of technology as we know it, as well as the gender dynamics that plague the industry. Of course, the characters on the show also have complicated personal relationships with one another. Pace’s Joe and Davis’s Cameron are romantically entangled, but Joe is one of the rare bisexual men on television. His sexuality is something that's established in the first season and helps move the storyline forward, but it's also taboo within the time frame of the show. If you're looking for a smart, well-paced show about tech and bisexuality in the 80s, this is the one for you.