Oh, Steven Moffat, why do you so often introduce ladies that you claim are bisexual only to never give any hint or evidence in the actual show that they are? River Song is not the first character to be outed outside of her TV show, but is there any evidence in the actual show that River Song is bisexual? And does it matter if there isn’t?
River Song is one of those characters that I find extremely confusing. Don’t get me wrong, she’s extremely interesting, but she’s a time traveler, we meet her out of order, she ends up being Rory and Amy’s daughter, as well as the Doctor’s wife and murderer. Everything with River was very confusing. Add to that a confusing representation of River’s sexuality and suddenly you need some damn strong headache medicine.
River was outed via twitter by Steven Moffat, but no evidence has ever been shown that River is bisexual in the actual show. River is largely only ever shown with the Doctor. River was raised to be a weapon against the Doctor. When she meets him, he already knows her and basically sweeps her off her feet, so really any chance of us, the viewers, seeing any evidence of River’s bisexuality on the show seems slim to none.
So here is the other question: does showing River’s bisexuality on the show matter? We know River is going to stay with her beloved Doctor, so really, what’s the point? Well, obviously the point is accurate representation of bisexual people on a major TV show; however, there are some difficulties in showing good bisexual representation and sometimes in what viewers perceive as good representation.
Many people seem to think that, in order to have a good bisexual character, the character needs to be seen dating many people of both genders throughout the course of the show. This can be offensive to some bisexuals, because in the real world, when a person who is bisexual chooses to be monogamous with a partner of the same-sex or the opposite sex, they are accused of either “going straight” or “going gay.” Despite Captain Jack Harkness being shown with multiple people of various genders, many people have criticized his relationship with Ianto in Torchwood, because simply dating one man didn’t “reflect” his bisexuality enough. However, that’s what happens when someone who is bisexual is in a committed relationship: they inevitably end up with one sex or the other, and there is nothing wrong with portraying that either.
So I don’t really mind that River will probably only be exclusively with the Doctor. River doesn’t need to hook up with several other women or men in the show. It wouldn’t be bad if she did, but it isn’t a necessity. What is a necessity is to at least show in the show that River is attracted to men and women. Merely a mention in the show from River about a girl she had a crush on in school would be enough. Just some acknowledgement would be nice. Especially since Doctor Who did so well portraying Captain Jack, it seems a shame to have the very next queer character’s sexuality be essentially erased in the show.
This isn’t the first time Moffat has done this. Though it’s stated in Sherlock that Irene Adler is gay, she is only shown with a woman because of her job, and she later falls for Sherlock. Maybe we are supposed to assume she is bisexual, but since we only see Irene in one episode, we are limited to only seeing Irene Adler with clients and Sherlock. Because of this Irene is only seen to be interested in Sherlock, though admittedly there is at least way more evidence for Adler’s bisexuality. Furthermore, the portrayal of Irene Adler’s relationship shows great hypocrisy on Moffat’s part by showing that Irene’s sexuality can be fluid when it comes to Sherlock, despite being a lesbian. Watson, however, cannot be fluid in his sexuality, because, well… he’s straight. Moffat does, however, often queerbait by dropping hints of a homosexual relationship between Watson and Sherlock, but denies that it could ever possibly be canon.
Honestly, I’m beginning to wonder if River Song being outed as bisexual wasn’t just more queerbaiting done by Moffat, leaving many gay viewers waiting to see an awesome character like River revealed to be bisexual in the show only for it to never happen.