My third tv pick is actually something that was on this year and doesn’t feature the after-life or clones or anything other worldly at all. The Bisexual started on Channel 4 in October and all six episodes are available on All4 in the UK and Ireland, and Hulu (I think) in the US. It’s set in London and revolves around a group of young people but it’s not like the happy, shiny portrayal of adulthood that I grew up on.
Shows like This Life or Friends where beautiful people in their twenties were all figuring out how they wanted their life to be. They’d make mistakes but with the assumption that one day they’d stop making mistakes and their real, proper grown-up life would start. This would probably happen shortly after they turned 30. I love all the ways that The Bisexual is not like those shows. For a start the main characters are in their 30s or older, and they have learned that building the life you want generally doesn’t happen in the a straight line, sometimes you end up going backwards and sometimes what you want changes and you have to start building all over again.
This is what happens to Leila in The Bisexual. She takes a break from her relationship and starts questioning her sexuality, which causes her to fall out with her friends and she has to start over. This is a theme throughout the show where a lot of the characters are concerned about not having certain things at this stage of their lives. Things like long-term relationships, children, careers, etc. Housing isn’t on that list because that seems too precarious. The first episode features the main protagonist Leila moving into a house-share and negotiating that particular minefield.
The Bisexual is written by Desiree Akhavan and Cecilia Frugiuele, who also wrote The Miseducation of Cameron Post. It is also directed by Desire Akhavan and she also plays Leila. Despite this double and triple jobbing there is an easy naturalness to the show which I really like.
It feels like a realistic depiction of life in London when you don’t have a lot of money – this means house-shares, and night buses and getting stuck at a lame house party because you’ve already spent ages getting there. There’s not a lot of glamour to this London life. The show also includes an impressively large cast but they are all introduced organically in a way that doesn’t over-whelm the viewer. They also seem like real people with their own lives, as well as adding to our understanding of the main characters. This diverse cast includes a heap of Irish actors including Brian Gleeson as Leila’s new housemate. He is very enjoyable as the tragic man-baby Gabe. There is a very funny karaoke scene that I watched from behind my hands because it is so funny and so uncomfortable.
The Bisexual a reassuring look at adulthood. If you are still waiting for the day when you feel like you’ve really got this adult-thing figured out, this show will remind you that you’re not the only one who feels like they’re making it up as they go along. I really hope there’s a second series because I love these broken people and really want to know what happens to them.
If you’ve like that, try this: There’s are lots of dark and funny shows on All4 about people trying to find their place in the world. I particularly recommend Chewing Gum, Catastrope and Fresh Meat.