in its second season, One Tree Hill is now a solid
ratings winner for the WB, attracting an audience comprised of more teenage
girls than any other primetime network show.
It’s this large fan base among teenage girls that makes Anna's
coming-out particularly noteworthy, since at least some of the girls in the
audience are likely to watch Anna's struggle with a glimmer of recognition.
So far, the writers have portrayed Anna's struggle with her attraction to girls fairly realistically, if rather predictably. Her pain and confusion over not fitting in, her fear that her bisexuality means there's something "wrong" with her, and her attempts to repress her sexuality through a variety of diversionary tactics like getting drunk and throwing herself at a cute boy are all familiar to many bisexual and lesbian viewers.
Anna's journey also gives straight viewers a window into the difficulties faced by girls whose sexuality doesn't fit the norm, and Peyton and Lucas's reaction to Anna's news is exactly the kind of reaction you hope for as a lesbian or bisexual teen who just wants to be accepted.
But the final verdict on One Tree Hill's
bisexual storyline depends on what the series does with it from here. If it
follows the path of most shows who introduce recurring gay or bisexual characters,
Anna will quickly fade away now that her After School Special moment is over.
Even if she continues to be a part of the series, it's unlikely
she'll actually explore her bisexuality, since because none of the other
regular or recurring characters are lesbian or bi, the only way for Anna to
do so is for the show to introduce another recurring character — and frankly,
this show already has too many characters to keep track of already.
The writers could continue to milk her coming-out storyline, since Anna has yet to come out to the rest of her friends or her brother, Felix (Michael Copon). This would be educational but boring, unless the writers explored the subtle but important differences between the way people react to bisexual girls/women versus lesbians.
Or Anna could decide she's really a lesbian, as some women do after initially thinking they're bisexual. This would also be less interesting than keeping Anna bisexual and actually exploring that, but it would be safer for the series, since taking bisexuality seriously is still taboo on network television, where bisexuality is almost always used as a punch line or a synonym for "promiscuous."
But while Anna may not ultimately be the Great Bisexual Hope on
network TV — anymore than The O.C.'s Alex will be — simply introducing
a bisexual woman of color and taking her seriously is still a welcome step forward
in the evolution of network TV.