British TV Series “Mistresses” Does Right

One of the earlier Jessica-Alex scenes — where Alex, trying on wedding dresses, persuades Jessica to try one on as well, and they have their first kiss — had led me to hope over-optimistically that the show might end with a lesbian wedding for Jessica, either with Alex or someone else. As it turns out, there is a possibility that Mistresses may be renewed for a second series, which perhaps explains why the writers decided not to take that route.

The direction they did take, though — with Alex, against her better judgment, deciding to carry on the affair with Jessica even after she is married, and Jessica falling back into her old pattern of being the mistress — made it harder for me to enjoy their story line in the second half of the series.

Although the actresses still had good chemistry, it was difficult to root for them as a couple when Alex was cheating on her wife, and the supposedly life-changing experience of being in love didn’t actually seem to have changed very much for Jessica.

In the end, however, seeing how crushed her friend Siobhan’s husband, Hari, was by his wife’s affair, Jessica did realize that what she was doing was wrong, and she ended the relationship with Alex. The writers clearly wanted to suggest that she had learned something from her experiences, as she told Alex, "You’re the first person who’s made me want [a proper relationship]."

In this video clip, Jessica and Alex discuss their relationship:

Whether that relationship is likely to be with a woman or a man is left unanswered. Although I have used the word "bisexual" to discuss Jessica here, the B-word was never actually used in the show, as seems often to be the case in TV shows dealing with sexually ambiguous women. (A recent example would be Cashmere Mafia , where Caitlin tells Alicia, "I don’t really care if I’m gay or I’m straight," apparently unaware that there could be any other label that might fit her.)

When discussing her explorations with women, Jessica’s friends immediately ask her if she’s "going lesbian," never even bringing up the possibility of bisexuality. The automatic labelling of any female same-sex explorations as "going lesbian" (and any return to men as "going straight") contributes to the invisibility of bisexual women on TV and supports the false assumption that everyone must "really" be one thing or the other.

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