Bisexual heroes are few and far between in popular culture, particularly when it comes to network television. Yet it’s 2014, and we might have hoped that things had moved on somewhat. Not so, if NBC’s new show based on the DC Comics character Constantine is anything to go by.
Speaking at the Television Critics Association’s press tour, the show’s executive producer Daniel Cerone explain that he does not see Constantine’s bisexuality as an essential part of the character, claiming that “within this tome of three decades there might have been one or two issues where he’s seen getting out of bed with a man”, and confirming that “there are no immediate plans” to depict such an event on screen.
While Cerone’s claims have already been disputed online by fans who claim Constantine’s bisexuality is a far more significant character element that is being acknowledged, it seems the battle has already been lost. And while this is no doubt a conservative decision based on gaining the show as wide an audience as possible, is it even a wise one? “Game of Thrones” may air on cable, but it is now one of the biggest shows in America, with official viewing figures pushing 18 million in the latest season, and actually viewership no doubt much higher once illegal streaming is accounted for. The show is famously gratuitous in its depiction of sex, and while that may be problematic in various ways, it is certainly proof that mainstream viewers are not in any way alienated by the very existence of bisexual lead characters.
Then there’s the fact that it’s been less than ten years since the Keanu Reeves cinematic adaptation of the same character, which also chose not to touch on Constantine’s bisexuality. Some may have seen this as a prime chance to refresh the character and give it a new, contemporary spin. Not NBC. The wisdom of their decision – while undeniably depressing – remains to be seen.