Half the country spent their summer hooked on Love Island – as the coupling and recoupling at TVs most famous villa had armchair romantics reaching for their apps and branded water bottles.
But isn’t it all a bit…. well, heterosexual? Imagine if Alexandra had hooked up with Kazimir, and Wes had got jealous and gone off with Jack.
Unfortunately, TV dating shows still don’t tend to explicitly explore bisexuality, despite programmes such as Channel 4’s First Dates and Naked Attraction including LGBT contestants. Often it’s done through a periscope of curiosity -or in the latter’s case, full on titillation dressed up as chin stroking human psychology.
That could all be about to change though. TV production company E! recently announced the planned release of bisexual+ dating show The Bi Life – for bisexual, pansexual, fluid and questioning individuals. It debuts in October.
The show will be presented by drag queen Courtney Act (Shane Jenek), who has also featured on Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Celebrity Big Brother and Australian Idol. Contestants will meet in LGBT mecca Barcelona, where they will live (and large it up) together in the hopes that romance will blossom.
“It’s high time there was a dating show for the large number of young people today, like me, who are attracted to more than one gender,” says Jenek. “In 2018 we know that sexuality is fluid and sharing the stories and experiences, the laughter and the love making, of young bi people is so important.”
The show’s groundbreaking concept has divided opinion before even going on air though.
Dr Meg John Barker is a bisexual activist and the author of a number of books on sexuality including Queer: A Graphic History, How To Understand Your Gender, Enjoy Sex (How, When, and IF You Want To), Rewriting the Rules, The Psychology of Sex, and The Secrets of Enduring Love.
Barker thinks the new show will help demystify the bi+ world and open up the gender debate to a wider audience.
“The helpful part of having a mainstream reality show focusing on bi+ people is the increase in awareness of bi+ identities and experiences – depicting them as legitimate in a world that often assumes that sexuality is binary,” Barker tells LADBible.
“The potential downside however is that it being a dating show could just reinforce the common stereotype that bi+ people are promiscuous, or all about sex, which – of course – isn’t the case for all bi+ people.”
The Bi Life certainly promises to be a far cry from the usual heteronormative format of shows like Love Island, Take Me Out and The Bachelor.
Early dating show forerunner Blind Date screened its first ever “gay” episode just last year after being given a naughties reboot.
A laudable landmark – but why did it take until 2017?
Most dating shows still rely on voyeurism and titillation than the pursuit of romance these days though. Flesh is flashed, buttons are pushed and the results of the date are cut to a three second mention amid all the razzmatazz.
Given that most prejudices against bisexuals are rooted in the belief that they are sex-crazed and incapable of romantic monogamous relationships, titillation is the last thing the bi+ community needs viewers to tune in to.
Assuming The Bi Life can, as it promises, successfully fight and not feed biphobic stereotypes, it could fulfil a crucial role in bringing bisexuality into the limelight. And it’s about bloody time.