Sexualized Saturdays: Bisexuality in Lost Girl

Lost-GirlLost Girl may not be the greatest show out there, but it had quite a lot going for it with the intricate urban fantasy world of Fae and lovable characters, quite a few of whom are LGBTQ+, B in particular. The representation wasn’t without its problems, of course, as in any other show, but over the course of it, we were introduced to Bo, Vex, Tamsin, and Mark, all of whom are bisexual main/recurring characters with compelling character arcs, including the female protagonist. And, sadly, you hardly ever see this much bi (or even generally queer) representation in fiction that’s not specifically LGBTQ-themed.

Spoilers for the concluded series below.

Bo, the bisexual female protagonist, was the reason I decided to check Lost Girl out in the first place. Unfortunately, she never uses the b-word, but it’s explicitly stated that she’s attracted to men and women (regrettably, nonbinary possibilities go unmentioned). As such, Bo’s sexuality is made clear, but it makes it seem that Bo doesn’t find it a very important part of her identity. She also doesn’t feel the need to seek out a community, although her group of closest friends and allies ends up made up of mostly bi and gay people, so perhaps this means that she finds her community without even specifically looking for it. In any case, having a bisexual woman as the center of a series is very exciting, especially as it turns out that Bo is often the only one capable of saving the day because of her unwillingness to align herself with either the Light or the Dark Fae, but always doing the right thing. The final season also revealed that Bo is the chosen one, capable of either bringing about the end of the world or saving it. These are all the things that make me very excited about her character.

Bo-and-Lauren-lost-girl

Lots of queer ladies kissing in this show though, it’s so great.

That said, there are a few problematic aspects at the core of Bo’s sexuality. She’s a Succubus, which means she feeds off people’s Chi (life energy), mostly during sexual activity, and, if not careful, she can easily kill them. Accidentally killing her boyfriend while having sex for the first time is actually the event that sets off the whole storyBo has to run away and look for answers. The nature of Bo’s powers is such that she must have sex to survive and, as her brief attempt at monogamy shows, one human person is not enough to sustain her. While there is nothing wrong with having multiple partners and a lot of sex, it’s one of the most common bisexual stereotypes, leading to hypersexualizing of bi folks, painting them as sex-obsessed and incapable of being satisfied by one partner. Bo can also control people through touch, charming them and making them feel attracted to her, thus making them willing to give her anything she wants, including sex. This makes Bo the dreaded predatory queer (although it has to be said that being as gorgeous as she is, Bo doesn’t have to use her powers this way that often). Her use of the controlling powers mostly echoes the way Harry Potter uses the Imperius curse in Deathly Hallows—for the greater good, so to speak. But that doesn’t make it right. It’s quite morally ambiguous at best and outright wrong at worst, and lack of moral values is a fault too often attributed to queer people and characters. So, in one character, you get a teenage girl who is punished for having sex, a “sex can kill you” morality tale, and a whole can of worms regarding consent, exacerbated by predatory immoral queer and hypersexual bisexual stereotypes.

vex

I mean, at what point does queer-coding becomes genderqueer representation? (I love that Vex wears heels a lot)

Now that I’ve started on the problematic aspects of Lost Girl‘s portrayal of bisexuality, it’s time to mention Vex, a Mesmer (someone who can make people move according to his will), who was a kinky, heavily queer-coded villain for most of the show, or so I thought, because he only seemed to flirt with men to make them uncomfortable. However, he underwent a redemption arc, and, in the final season, he fell in love with Mark, a Shape-shifter (whom I’ll talk about in a minute). That makes Vex another bisexual character who controls people, and he’s a jerk with a heart of gold at his best and an outright villain at his worst. Interestingly, it’s his love for Mark that seems to bring out the best in Vex and complete his redemption, which, to me, sends a rather powerful message we don’t often see—that love that saves isn’t just for straight people.

Which brings me to Mark, a Shape-shifter who turns into a panther. He is introduced in the final season as the long-lost son of one of the main characters, a werewolf Shape-shifter named Dyson. He appears to be, at first, your typical straight guy: he has problems with authority (mainly his father) and tries to “score” with hot women; still, he is firmly in the good guy category. However, even though Vex’s crush on him was made explicit early on, Mark never uses any labels and most of their interactions would merely be queer-baiting subtext on any other show, so for the longest time I wasn’t expecting anything to actually come out of it. Therefore, Mark reciprocating Vex’s feelings came as a very pleasant surprise; even if it did only come in the show’s finale, at least a queer couple got a happy ending.

lost-girl-wings-tamsin

A little scary, chaotic, and very much in love with Bo. I love that Tamsin has one of the rare female enemy-turned-friend stories.

However, not everyone made it out. Tamsin, a Valkyrie who could incapacitate people with doubt, was initially an adversary to Bo but ended up falling in love with her. Unfortunately, Tamsin became a victim of the mystical pregnancy trope and died. Granted, three out of four queer characters surviving is not a bad count, everything considered, but with so many tragic queer stories out there, every death hurts, especially considering the fact it was caused by a misogynistic trope.

Through these characters, a couple problems with Lost Girl‘s portrayal of bisexuality quickly become apparent. Firstly, it seems that most of its bisexual characters possess powers that can control people’s minds or bodies (although I haven’t mentioned Evony, who’s a Muse, but she’s also evil). The fact that the characters often use their powers to do good makes the moral issues murkier because the narrative frames it in a positive light. In this regard, Mark becomes an important counterbalance because his powers have nothing to do with controlling others and he doesn’t use flirting or seduction to achieve his goals—in contrast to quite a few characters on this show, including Bo and Evony. Secondly, none of the characters use labels, which make it difficult to recognize representation without explicitly stated feelings and relationships. They also seem to live in a non-homophobic/non-biphobic utopia, making sexuality a sort of non-issue, which is a little disheartening.

That being said, the sheer abundance of bisexual characters make Lost Girl quite an extraordinary genre show in this regard (not to mention that there are other queer characters as well). There are both male and female bisexual characters (although, unfortunately, they’re all white), and one of them is the protagonist. Bo is a queer woman with a tragic past, she’s a chosen one, and she’s a kickass detective. Also, despite the fact that some of them have morally reprehensible powers, the bi characters are good guys. In this case, Vex is especially important because he undergoes a prominent redemption arc, turning him from yet another queer-coded villain into an actual good(ish) bi guy.

vex-and-mark

I also appreciate that Mark and Vex’s relationship wasn’t immediately sexual; in contrast to how most of Bo’s relationships start with sex and progress to feelings, Mark and Vex started with feelings (gif by queerfilm)

Another thing I particularly appreciate is the parallels between Light/Dark Fae and bisexuality. All Fae must choose whether to join Light or Dark Fae but in the beginning of the show, Bo refuses to choose and remains unaligned. This is echoed at the end of the show, when Mark, similarly, decides that he doesn’t want to choose a side, but he chooses Vex. The choice between Light and Dark reminds me a lot of the way bisexual folks are often pressured to choose between gay and straight “sides”, even though the characters in the show don’t experience this sort of biphobic behavior. The parallel goes further with Mark and his decision to “choose Vex”: it reflects the way a monogamous bi person chooses a partner, but that doesn’t make them gay or straight, they remain bisexual.

All in all, Lost Girl has several well-developed, intriguing and lovable bisexual characters. Bo, Mark, Tamsin, and Vex are all integral to the story, and their characters are allowed to grow and develop. The linking of bisexuality with mind/body-controlling abilities and morally ambiguous or outright wrong use of these powers doesn’t send a positive message. But the fact that there are several bi characters, some of whom are good guys and some of whom join the good side over the course of the show, saves it from equating bisexuality and evil. This makes Lost Girl quite an extraordinary show in terms of bisexual representation.


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2 thoughts on “Sexualized Saturdays: Bisexuality in Lost Girl

  1. Pingback: What does good bi representation on TV look like? | Fedora Nate Studios

  2. Pingback: ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ and other TV shows are smashing myths about bisexuality | Fedora Nate Studios

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