If you haven’t gotten the chance to watch all six episodes of The Bisexual on Hulu yet, you’re probably wondering what to expect. But as someone who has watched all six episodes of The Bisexual, I’m not even sure if I can accurately describe what you should expect either. At the very least, I can say one thing to just completely ignore is the idea that this is just the British version of Girls. Because it seems like any female-led (and created and written) half-hour dramedy these days is compared to Girls, whether that holds up under any sort of scrutiny or not. (It typically does not, but this is all a soapbox for another day.)
Just to get everyone up to speed, The Bisexual is a new series starring, created by, co-written by, and directed by Desiree Akhavan (writer/director of Appropriate Behavior and The Miseducation of Cameron Post). In the series, Akhavan plays Leila, an Iranian-American living in London, who breaks off her romantic partnership of over a decade with Sadie (Maxine Peake) — who is also her business partner, so you can imagine the awkwardness that ensues — in order to explore the singledom she missed out on in her 20s. Of course, the issue becomes the fact that this exploration involves her acting on her attraction to men (despite identifying as a lesbian) for the first time in her life.
The Bisexual focuses on Leila pretty much having the quarter-life crisis she didn’t get to have in her 20s, and despite the (very played out, yet still prolific) stereotypes about bisexuals, Leila’s decision to open herself up sexually and romantically to the opposite sex doesn’t suddenly lead to a buffet of options, either male or female. Not only is she starting from scratch when it comes to men, she also sometimes ends up on a trial of sorts from the men themselves, wondering what it is about them that made a lesbian all of a sudden consider them the right man for the job. (It’s actually a pretty funny subversion of the toxic masculine idea that all it takes is the right man to turn a lesbian straight, and that’s before the series even brings out a parody of a human who exists as that type of character.)
Despite the series title, Leila doesn’t go around calling herself a (or the) bisexual at any point. In fact, she pretty much proclaims to anyone she can — especially once people start questioning her own questioning of her sexuality — that she’s a lesbian. But she’s still treated like a unicorn out in the wild (and not even in a good way, more like the evil unicorn in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow) to the point where everyone else around her might as well just be calling her “the bisexual” instead of “Leila.” And if they were to do so, it would definitely be in a pointed manner at worst and simply a confused one at best. Because if Leila is confused, then her heterosexual roommate Gabe (Brian Gleeson), pretty much a walking stereotype of a tortured golden-boy writer, simply has no idea what’s going on when it comes to Leila’s sexuality, or her existence as a human being who exists past any particular label.
(An aside: If nothing else sways you to watch this series, please know that I really need someone to talk to about the fact that Brian Gleeson, brother of Domhnall and son of Brendan, spends this entire show looking like a poor man’s Ewan McGregor, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but is truly distracting in every scene he’s in.)