As someone who decided to start an article series with Bi in the title, I think the universe demands that I write about the Hulu Original Series The Bisexual. The series debuted in late 2018 on the streaming service and I decided to save any coverage of it for this specific venue. The series focuses on Leila, played by Desiree Akhavan, who after ten years with her girlfriend decides that she needs to take a break. This sets into motion a period of experimentation and examination that leads her to at one point identify as bisexual.
The first night that Leila is no longer dating Sadie, Maxine Peake, she attempts to hook up with a guy she meets at a club. Now I say attempts because the guy is so thrown by the reveal that she has never slept with a man that she winds up leaving. This first attempted hook up is not the only time Leila sleeps with a man, but I think it is important to note that she does sleep with a woman during the break and eventually decides that she wants to be back in her relationship with Sadie. Leila’s journey is interesting because much of what she is struggling with is actually the label of bisexual. During the flashback episode, episode five of the six total episodes, we see Leila attempt to hit on a guy, but when she begins connecting with Deniz, Saskia Chana, who thinks she might be a lesbian, she instantly shuts down any discussion of liking men and insists that she has only ever liked women.
In a previous episode, immediately following the break with Sadie, when the topic of bisexuality comes up in conversation, Leila dismisses it as a myth. Her dismissal though comes after an extended pause. During the conversation Akhavan presents Leila as very uncomfortable and she refuses to discuss the topic any further. It is only by episode four that Leila refers to herself as bisexual, but only in front of a blind date. In conversations with her friends she attempts to hide any involvement she has with men. This even involves making the only man she actually sleeps with, Jon-Criss, pretend he’s never met her when Deniz surprises Leila with dinner. Her discomfort around the topic of being with men can be tied back to the community around Leila. Her friends do not appear accepting of those who identify as bisexual and in her desire to be accepted Leila hides part of her identity. What I found exceptionally interesting was that in the final episode, when she is actively attempting to get back together with Sadie she refers to herself not as bisexual, but as a lesbian. Sexuality is often viewed as a spectrum and Leila can move as she sees fit within identities, but I am curious if a season two does happen if she will continue using lesbian as her primary identifier or if she will actively begin referring to herself as bisexual.
I enjoyed this series and while I have some issues with Leila’s choices, I also found her journey interesting to watch unfold. Akhavan created something that she performs with great skill. Her subtle pauses or eye movements as Leila reveal deeper meaning to so many moments within the series. If her name looks familiar to you she wrote the screenplay and directed The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which is also a wonderfully done film. For horror fans, you might recognize her from Creep 2, which she also does a fantastic job in as a very determined documentary creator. The Bisexual has a very indie style feel for it with a more slice of life style plot to it. With just six roughly half hour episodes it is an exceptionally quick watch so you could knock the entire first season out in about three hours. You can find The Bisexual on Hulu and I highly recommend it.
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