“Strictly Confidential” Delivers a Complex Bisexual Character

Although the pregnant lesbian story line is, without question, overused, in this case there does seem to be a legitimate reason for its inclusion. All of the people in Linda’s life, from her brother-in-law to her ex-partner, are happily expecting children, but she and her husband cannot conceive. That their infertility is by no fault of her own only exacerbates the helplessness Linda feels; although she is used to controlling sex-related problems, she cannot control this one. If we can forgive television writers for a pregnant lesbian, this may be the one acceptable instance.

The writers also deserve praise for presenting a complex portrayal of bisexuality without the usual stereotypes, and for doing so in an straightforward, honest way. In the promotional materials for the series, Linda is always bluntly referred to as a “bisexual sex therapist” who has a husband, and although this doesn’t bode well for on-screen same-sex relationships (aside from flashbacks), this characterization is actually quite promising.

In the vast majority of television programs, the term “bisexual” is generally used only when referring to a character who, in the span of the series, has sex with people of both genders (usually promiscuously). To have a character who not only embraces bisexuality as a label but also in practice is a true anomaly; even on Showtime’s The L Word there is only one self-identifying bisexual in the series, and she often mentions, inexplicably, that she doesn’t like men.

In real life, bisexuality or incidences of bisexual feelings are fairly high among women and, contrary to media portrayals, many bisexual women end up in fulfilling, committed relationships with either gender. When this occurs, they often find themselves stripped of the bisexual label and instead assigned to either the straight or gay community, a classification that most assuredly is not correct. The queer community also has been known to act coldly toward bisexuals who end up in heterosexual relationships or marriages, so it comes as no surprise that bisexual women may even want to hide their true identity.

Strictly Confidential has, thankfully, never apologized for Linda’s bisexuality. Her past is considered as much a legitimate part of her identity as her current relationship, and the writers never attempt to explain away her previous relationship with Angie by describing it as an experiment or an identity that is no longer applicable. Only the mainstream press has defined the lead character as a “former lesbian,” which reinforces why Linda is one of the most important bisexual television characters in history.

As a show, Strictly Confidential is heavy on the heterosexual-themed content. The series not only revolves around a married woman, but all of the couples who seek advice at Reconcile are, ostensibly, heterosexual. But in terms of character development, Strictly Confidential succeeds as a wonderful representation of the queer community, and bisexuality in particular. The lead character is candidly bisexual and, although she’s not perfect, she exhibits almost none of the stereotypes typical of bisexual representations in the media.

For queer viewers interested in multidimensional lesbian relationships, it’s best to wait for the new season of The L Word or Sugar Rush for that fix. But for an honest portrayal of the many aspects of bisexuality, Strictly Confidential is one of the best-kept secrets out there.

Strictly Confidential
airs every Thursday on ITV
in the United Kingdom at 9 p.m. through Dec. 21.

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