Discussion Posts

Trope Discussion: The Messy Bisexual

Defining the trope

This trope represents a particular type of character. They’re bisexual, but they’re a major mess! Sometimes this mess means that they just haven’t figured out how to be an adult yet, and sometimes it’s a bit more complicated depending on what kind of a story we’re talking about. The messiness comes about a lot of times in the way they represent their identity, such as being surrounded by far too many attractive options for potential love interests. This is what sets a messy character apart from a messy bisexual: the hilarious hijinks that come from a bisexual character that acts like the most chaotic bisexual possible!

Is it good representation?

Ultimately, as a queer person, the answer is complicated. On the one hand, with so little representation of bisexual characters at all I prefer to see “good” examples, characters that other young queer folks can look up to and explore their identity with and characters that help those with prejudices shift their paradigms. While these characters are helpful, it’s also nice to have real queer authors write a bisexual character I can actually see myself in and enjoy the characterization of. This is where messier characters, and characters that actually reflect how I feel about my identity come in…

I like messy characters

Look, I’m a bit of a control freak in real life. I’m the kind of person who creates a schedule for all her hobbies and her blogging in order to get the most done possible. I’m a multi-tasker and I like getting things accomplished and especially doing so in an efficient and organized manner. But personality wise I’m a bit of a mess! And that’s why I like messy characters, because I like seeing people who feel the way I do inside. So while I also recognize why it’s beneficial to have “role model” bisexual characters, who set decent examples for young questioning queer folk, I also desperately want bisexual representation that captures the messy way I engage in dating and sex and all that good stuff. Also, now that I’m married, I’ve dramatically cut down on the amount of drama in my dating life so I like getting to read about that drama from a bisexual perspective because yeah, dating as a bisexual person an lead to a lot of specific drama!

What could be next?

Ultimately, and this goal is not exclusive to bisexual representation, I think what we want is to evolve to the point of having enough representation across literature so as to represent most bisexual people. We should evolve from the point of having only bisexual representation that helps questioning young people to having a slice of every part of bisexual life. Ideally, we’ll get to the point of having disabled bisexual characters, bisexual characters of color, bisexual villains, bisexual heroes, bisexual antiheroes, and more. We should have characters in every genre, side characters and main characters, and just like any other identity be widespread enough that we don’t have to jump on every opportunity to read a bisexual character for some sliver of rep.

Final thoughts

Personally, I like this trope. I totally understand why its overuse would be frustrating, and why we shouldn’t oversaturate our bisexual representation with only this trope. But in a time where it’s hard to come by any realistic bisexual representation I do appreciate bisexual characters that fit this trope because it feels realistic, entertaining, and appeals to me as a bisexual person.


By Catherine

I'm a lover of books, coffee, wine, and bees. Happy to join the ranks of book bloggers everywhere!

One reply on “Trope Discussion: The Messy Bisexual”

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