If Grown-ish writers have shown us anything thus far, it’s that they’re definitely not afraid to go there. Prime example? Their most recent episode tackling the many complexities of bi-phobia.
Beloved niece of Dean Parker, Nomi Segal goes away to school to explore her sexuality as the group’s resident bi-sexual free spirit, ready to break away from the restrictions her conservative Jewish family placed on her.
In Wednesday’s episode, we find Nomi on a date with a girl and she’s approached by a guy trying to buy her a drink. After realizing the two were on a date, he gets flustered and tries to make amends by buying both of them a drink. When Nomi tries to de-escalate the situation with her date, she responds that she hates when straight guys have a hidden agenda for a threesome with lesbian couples.
But when Nomi admits she finds the threesome thing kind of hot and comes out as bi, all hell breaks loose. The girl, rolling her eyes, responds, “Look, I don’t want to be some girl’s experiment, okay? So why don’t you call me when you’re done going through this whole bi-phase?” This is where Nomi then wilds out in the revenge narrative of every bi person’s dreams and yells, “You know it’s LG*B*TQ! RESPECT THE LETTER, BITCH!”
While this moment thankfully ended in Nomi’s standing true to who she is, not every bi character written received the same vigor and confidence. Biphobia has run deep in the LGBTQ+ community, and reflected in media, for years now. Bi people and characters alike are subjected to tropes such as “going through a phase” or “bi but never coming out.” While Nomi isn’t out to her family yet, we’re pleased to see that she feels safe enough on her college campus to be out and proud.
But the tables turn when later on in the episode, Nomi starts messing around with the guy who tried to buy her a drink. His character is set up as the perfect guy, does everything to help and support Nomi, and even gets the approval by the super shady twins. But in the moment, we get a plot twist when the guy ends up coming out to her as bi. Nomi and the twins all share a grimace directly after he comes out, displaying they’re obviously not cool with it.
We’ve seen this sort of bi-double standard against men play out with Molly’s ex-bae in Insecure. As aforementioned, bi female representation has its complications but the invisibility of bi men might arguably be the next issue to tackle. Men are too often weighed down with the expectations of hypermasculinity that don’t allow them to stray from heterosexuality. Every day men and their depictions in media hardly ever give space to explore their sexuality and identify on the spectrum between gay and straight. If and when men want to come out as bi or questioning, it’s not uncommon for them to be met with confusion or discomfort — it’s not something we ever talk about or see.
We hope that Grown-ish will continue to explore biphobia and the double standard for bi men in future episodes — it could help a lot of people out there start the conversation on what bisexuality truly is and debunk the unfortunate stigmas that exist around it.