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Generation Q Finally Confronts the B-word

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Photograph: Paul Sarkis/SHOWTIME

Loving The L Phrase as a bisexual girl betrays a sure type of masochism and optimism. For its flaws, Ilene Chaiken’s soapy, melodramatic collection in regards to the loves and lives of lesbians in Los Angeles was groundbreaking, one of many first locations (some) girls who beloved (some) girls may see (some) elements of their lives represented onscreen. At its finest, it was watchable, its characters generally likable of their chaos. At its worst, although, it was merciless to the communities it tried to symbolize, notably trans and bisexual individuals.

Within the mid-’00s, it was the one place I may see girls love and kiss each other onscreen, even when, within the subsequent breath and with the identical mouth, they talked about how grasping individuals like me had been. I fell for Shane, I despised Jenny, I longed for Bette to offer me a very good telling-off. The one out bisexual character, nevertheless, was Alice. She’s a “soiled bisexual,” a grasping lady who can’t select, mocked by her associates till her identification is all however scrubbed away. The one time she dates a person, it’s a person referred to as Lisa who “identifies as a lesbian,” turning each Alice’s identification and trans identification right into a merciless joke. When Tina briefly delves into her bisexuality, first flirting with a person on-line earlier than taking on with a boring dude referred to as Henry, Bette will get more and more upset, ultimately making an attempt to sue Tina for sole custody. It isn’t simply that their bisexuality is appeared down on inside the present, however that they appear so deliberately to be paired with the worst males, as if to show some extent. Even Tim, the person Jenny is courting when she begins to find that she likes girls, is okay however uninteresting earlier than changing into borderline abusive.

Elsewhere, bisexual girls appeared solely to exist onscreen to fire up drama, their sensuality leveraged solely to titillate teen boys. I longed for one thing that understood the nuances of my identification. The L Phrase fell quick, however many reveals since haven’t. It’s a protracted checklist: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Brooklyn 9-9, Broad Metropolis, Schitt’s Creek, and lots of extra have managed to painting bisexuality in a manner that’s neither dismissive nor sensational — it simply is.

So why tune again in, with a lot else on the market? When the first season of The L Phrase: Technology Q dropped in 2019, it promised to be higher, giving a brand new technology of actors well-rounded characters that didn’t lean on merciless stereotypes. The revival has been a pleasing shock: Jacqueline Toboni (Finley) and Jillian Mercado (Maribel) gave us flawed, complete individuals to root for, whereas the enjoyment of catching up with returning faces like Kate Moennig (Shane) and Leisha Hailey (Alice) may enable you to neglect its flaws. A spotlight of the second season is Jamie Clayton as Tess, a love curiosity who can maintain her personal towards Shane. The revival is sharper, funnier, tighter, extra according to the world we dwell in now. However a silence hung over the one wound I wished to be healed: the B-word.

After we meet Alice once more in Technology Q, she is a profitable (presumed lesbian) talk-show host with a long-term girlfriend, an ideal blonde bob, and a collection of alternating pastel fits. To date, so good: Her crimes against fashion within the first outing wanted a redemption arc all their very own. Because the revival went on, it appeared that Alice had tossed apart the label that had prompted her a lot ostracization: that, with a dedicated relationship to Natalie, she had executed as bi girls on TV usually do and “picked a facet.” Nonetheless — spoilers — partway via the second season, Alice meets Tom, a dorky editor-slash-ghostwriter assigned to work on her memoir.

Performed by Donald Faison of Clueless fame, Tom is charming and goofy. Their banter unfolds into full-fledged romance, catalyzed by a catastrophic lobster dinner. I questioned if this was it — if, lastly, we might see a bisexual girl preserve her foot in her neighborhood whereas courting a — gasp — man. There are street bumps: Alice cheats on Tom along with her ex, and it looks like a betrayal not simply of Tom however of the viewers at residence, begging this present to not tread lazy stereotypes. Alice’s arc in season two is one in all rediscovery; when referred to as a lesbian talk-show host and a lesbian icon, she bristles however doesn’t right, not desirous to lose her standing. When she tells Tom about Natalie, he’s harm, explaining to her that guidelines on dishonest ought to apply the identical for males as for girls. She’s shocked, by some means — in settlement, however as if she’d by no means earlier than thought of that she owed a person the identical faithfulness she owed girls.

This dialog may need felt higher had it been the opposite manner round — the ignorant straight man anticipating her to cheat, Alice educating him on the that means of bisexuality. As a substitute, it simply feels painful to see her nonetheless being so ignorant about her personal identification. It’s as if she resents it, which possibly holds some reality. Perhaps a few of us, by no means feeling as if we match right into a neighborhood, want that we may simply decide a facet, match neatly right into a field with out having to justify ourselves.

Alice spends season two navigating her identification, and within the penultimate episode, she reckons along with her bisexuality, joking, “I feel I’m gonna have to come back out as bisexual once more.” She manages to inform an interviewer that her new girlfriend is a person named Tom, however finds herself on the receiving finish of silence. At a celebration for Bette and Tina’s daughter Angie, she confronts Bette in regards to the stereotypes, in a second that ought to really feel cathartic had been The L Phrase not chargeable for perpetuating so a lot of them, blaming “capital-L lesbians” for the difficult emotions inside her. “You simply don’t consider bisexuals are actual,” says Alice, and Bette rolls her eyes, reminding her: “That was 20 years in the past.” Alice remains to be harm by the hangover of that prejudice, nonetheless hurting others within the perception of it, saying, “I carry a person into this world, it adjustments every little thing.” It’s shedding her neighborhood, the life she’s constructed with these girls, that scares Alice, whilst Angie tells her “no one cares.” Angie is fortunate to develop up in a world the place, true, fewer individuals care — however many nonetheless do.

The season finale stirs up simply as a lot shit because it wraps up, abandoning a soap-opera prepare wreck that may have you ever begging for a renewal. So far as Alice’s relationship along with her sexuality goes, it feels optimistic — earlier than heading off on a 12-week e-book tour with Tom, they fall out and make up once more. He’s studying methods to match into her life, having fun with his point out in {a magazine} article as “a cis man named Tom.” On the e-book launch, Tom reveals up at Dana’s, the bar Shane owns. It’s there that he appears to combine into her life for the primary time, high-fiving Shane, who mutters to Bette, “I’ve by no means preferred a man extra in my life.” “Me neither,” Bette smiles, and it’s in her approval on the bar named for the love of Alice’s life (RIP) that it looks like her two lives would possibly have the ability to mesh in any case.

Alice’s journey is difficult to look at as a result of it displays the worst fears of some bisexual girls — that both facet of them may not be accepted by any neighborhood in any respect. Alice is scared to enter right into a relationship with Tom: It’s completely different. Seeing her really feel out of step in what ought to be her personal neighborhood, panicking that she’ll lose entry to the tight bonds she’s constructed simply because she’s now courting a person hurts, as a result of possibly it’s the closest The L Phrase has ever come to representing our actuality onscreen. To see that friction portrayed pretty, even with each painful stumbling block, looks like progress from the one place that so usually struggles with it. It looks like some type of retribution. Even when it weren’t, I’d preserve watching.

https://www.thecut.com/2021/10/the-l-word-generation-q-finally-confronts-the-b-word.html | Technology Q Lastly Confronts the B-word

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