TV

‘The Bi Life’ Proves That We Are In The Golden Age Of The Bisexual

"When it comes to dating, the world is changing fast. When it comes to love, I don't think about gender: it isn't important."

“When it comes to dating, the world is changing fast,” says The Bi Life host Courtney Act in the introduction to the show. The new reality dating show proves that we’re at the height of bisexual culture.

The humble bisexual is having a renaissance in pop-culture at the moment — we’re swarming over music, film and TV, stealing your wives and husbands, breaking up families, and it’s the best. Rosa Diaz from Brooklyn Nine-Nine is bi, Lando Calrissian is pansexual, Janelle Monae is writing music about bisexuality — literally everyone in 2018 is bisexual. We are powerful and we are legion.

“When it comes to love, I don’t think about gender: it isn’t important,” finishes Courtney Act.

This is true for an increasing amount of people these days — and it could be argued that dating and relationships are the most pressing issue when it comes to bisexuality.

It’s kinda how bisexuals manifest themselves in the mortal world, when they start dating both men and women or neither with freedom and impunity.

Hence, why it’s both timely and important to finally get a bisexual dating show.

The Bi Life is a British dating show hosted by Shane Jenek and Courtney Act (Australian Idol, Ru Paul’s Drag Race), in which six sexy bisexual single people hang out in a Spanish villa over summer and explore the rich and varied world of bisexual dating.

Unlike, say The Bachelor or Married at First Sight, this isn’t a competition or a test. They aren’t dating each other. In fact, it’s more of a collaborative experience, where each member of the house is supported and encouraged to date a range of other people, in fairly good simulacra of what modern dating is like, including meeting people through apps, blind date setups and a whole bunch of parties.

Watching six bisexuals help each other navigate the trials and pitfalls, the petty ignorance and casual phobias of being a dating bisexual is sometimes aggressively wholesome. It’s beautiful to watch.

But make no mistake — it’s still a dating show, so it’s really fun. And it’s not ONLY for bisexual or queer people, in fact, it’s uniquely for everybody. That’s the joy of a bisexual, you can be attracted to all of them!

It’s full of almost gratuitously hot people who get to drink a lot and run around Barcelona dating other hot people, and then coming back to their villa to make out at parties. There’s all the staples of a good delightfully trashy dating show — dramas, dating, affable fuckbois. It’s so fun!

As Courtney says in the show: “I’m here to help them party”

The Realities Of The Bi Life

Talking to Junkee, Courtney Act explains why in 2018 we need a bisexual dating show.

“I think the dating complications of bisexual people are unique, and they’re unique from gender to gender. And they’re unique depending on which gender they’re dating,” she points out.

It’s true — you won’t find the kind of issues that bisexual people face in a regular dating show. One of the interesting twists in the date setups in the show is that people don’t know that they’ve been set up with a bisexual person, meaning that we get to organically see the kind of response bisexuals get every day from normal people.

“Is he looking at guys, is he looking at girls?” says one of the girls who is set up with the handsome, charming and slightly flaky bisexual man Ryan, implying that bisexuals automatically have wandering eyes, that their nature makes them less trustworthy. It’s almost insane watching Ryan point out that much like a straight person, when he dates someone, he plans on dating just them.

Or there’s the moment when cast-member Daisie tells the guy she’s set up with that she’s bisexual, and he genuinely tells her that he’s perfectly open to bringing in another girl for a threesome. Nobody was asking for that, buddy. Perfectly fine if they are — but as a default reaction, it shows the kind of prevalent opinion of bisexuals by straight people.

“So there’s a lot of unique experiences with bisexual people that, I think, this show helps explore,” continues Courtney.

“Ryan, one of the guys on the show, talks about how he was sexually attracted to women and romantically attracted to men. And, I was like, OK, just accepted it at face value. And then, we were having a conversation and he was talking about how as a bi guy he finds it challenging to be open with women about his sexuality, because whenever he does, it can end the potential for anything romantic, because a lot of women struggle with the idea of  dating a guy who is also attracted to guys.”

Bi Representation Done Well

Dating shows are never going to be or even meant to be flawlessly ethical vehicles of utter wokeness. At their beautifully trashy heart, they are about enjoying the drama of watching other people try to find love, and taking pleasure in the voyeuristic thrill of it all.

That said, this show could have been done so incredibly badly. I was so worried that negative tropes of the slutty, untrustworthy bisexual would be perpetuated for easy viewer ratings, that an entire sexuality would be cheapened and sensationalised for reality TV.

Instead, The Bi Life is supportive and wholesome and does it properly.

“I’m glad to be involved with the show, and I really do actually commend E! on their leadership in a way,” notes Courtney Act.  “Like, they really could have just made another series of another show, but they didn’t. They did take a risk on this, and there’s been so much support, and there’s been consultation with GLAAD and with myself and with other people, in making sure that it’s not just a show, it’s the RIGHT show for representing bisexual people in the media.”

As one of the first vanguards into the bisexual dominance of all media, I’m just so glad The Bi Life made the choice to be sensitive and wholesome, along with also making sure its a fun messy bitch.

“It’s been fascinating watching the world change over the last few years, and now we have a show like Drag Race, right? Like, who would have thunk that it would become mainstream popular? Like, the majority of the audience in Drag Race is straight females who watch it. Or Queer Eye is huge all around the world, and not because the ten percent of the population who are gay are all watching it. It’s because straight people are watching it as well, and I think people who are creating television content realise that just because it’s about a niche, doesn’t mean that’s all who are going to watch it … and that, if we tell good stories, that they’re going to be universal.”

You can watch The Bi Life on E! and streaming on hayu, and you really should.

Patrick Lenton is the Entertainment Editor at Junkee. He tweets @patricklenton.