Bisexual Heroes in Movies and TV

While in recent years representation of LGBT people as a whole in media has been on the rise, this hasn’t been true for every letter of that acronym. In particular, bi and trans people have been mostly left out. Very few characters are actually referred to as bisexual even if they are shown to have relationships with people of different genders. They are often depicted as being promiscuous and having no interest in serious or monogamous relationships. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with either of those things, but obviously not every bisexual person wants the same thing. Bisexual women in relationships with other women are usually seen as going through a phase, being wild, or “turning into a lesbian.” Bisexual men on screen are almost non-existent. Even while coming up with this list, I found it hard to find characters who say in canon that they are bisexual and are shown in relationships with people of different genders. However, there are a few bright spots of positive representation. Here are some of the best bisexual heroes in TV, Movies, and Comics.

Dr. Remy “Thirteen” Hadley from House, MD: First introduced in season four and known only as “Thirteen”, this badass doctor (played by Olivia Wilde) was known for her secretive nature and sharp wit. While at first she was shown to be wild and promiscuous, this was later shown to be a result of having a terminal illness. When she later comes to terms with her diagnosis, she is shown to be perfectly capable of engaging in serious relationships with both men and women. Strong and confident, Thirteen refuses to let any one box her in and makes a point of identifying herself as bisexual, not as straight or gay.

Korra and Asami Sato from Avatar: The Legend of Korra: This show, like its predecessor Avatar: The Last Airbender was nothing short of groundbreaking during its run, particularly considering the fact that it was an animated series largely meant for kids. Dealing with heavy topics like discrimination, sexism, war, and trauma, both shows could always be counted on to tackle sensitive issues with nuance and grace, without ever losing their humor. In the last episode of The Legend of Korra, Korra and Asami were seen entering a spiritual dimension called the spirit world together while holding hands and looking fondly at each other. The scene was later interpreted by fans and confirmed by show co-creator Bryan Konietzko to mean that the two characters who had only been shown with male partners had fallen in love and were beginning a relationship.

Oberyn Martell from Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire: A prominent character for the fourth season of Game of Thrones and in the third book, A Storm of Swords, this bisexual badass (played by Pedro Pascal) was also known as the Viper and was explicitly shown to have interest in both men and women, and was in a committed polyamorous relationship with his lover Ellaria Sand (Indria Varma), who also happened to be bisexual. Swaggering and hell-bent on revenge for his family, Oberyn was (spoiler alert) taken from us in a particularly brutish death. RIP Oberyn, we hardly knew ye.

Rachel from Imagine Me and You: There are very few romantic comedies for queer people as media tends to either avoid queerness altogether or write depressing stories of death and discrimination. Luckily, Imagine Me and You avoids both these pitfalls and provides us with protagonist Rachel (played by Piper Perabo), who begins the film with her wedding to Hector (played by Matthew Goode) but falls in love with her florist, Luce (played by Lena Headey). Rachel’s love for Luce is never portrayed as a strange deviation nor is her love for Hector ever dismissed or diminished in this sweet, funny film.

Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who and Torchwood: played by John Barrowman, the good captain was first introduced as a sexy futuristic con man who was, to quote The Doctor (at the time, played by Christopher Eccelston), “a bit more flexible when it comes to dancing.” While Jack was shown to enjoy flirting with people of multiple genders in both shows, Jack eventually began a serious relationship in Torchwood with Ianto Jones, who was also shown to be bisexual. The two went from being more or less friends with benefits to eventually embarking on a full-fledged, loving, supportive relationship.

Kelly from Black Mirror: While pretty much every episode of this British anthology series is depressing, creepy, and generally pretty down on technology and humanity, the episode ‘San Junipero’ is the lovely, heartwarming exception. One of the main characters of this episode is Kelly (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who enters a relationship with Yorkie (played by Mackenzie Davis). Kelly tells Yorkie that she is bisexual and used to be married to a man who later died. San Junipero is generally considered one of the most poignant and beautiful episodes of Black Mirror, and it’s not hard to see why.

Lorraine Broughton from Atomic Blonde: Honestly, Lorraine (played by Charlize Theron) being bisexual is probably the least exciting thing about her. She is badass, sneaky, and a damn good spy. The film makes a point of noting in the beginning that a deceased male agent was her former lover, and shows her engaging in a brief love affair with fellow secret agent Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella). But like I said, the movie is so full of twists and turns and Lorraine beating up bad guys that you don’t have that much time to even revel in how easily the movie gives us a bi heroine.

Ilana from Broad City: Played by and based on a loose version of the show’s co-creator Ilana Glazer, Ilana is a fun-loving, hedonistic, pot-smoking young Jewish woman in her twenties roaming around New York with her best friend Abbi (played by series co-creator Abbi Jacobson). In season two, Ilana sees her doppelganger Adele (played by Alia Shawkat), and the two begin a sexual relationship where Ilana tells her, “I have sex with people different from me. Different colors, different shapes, different sizes. People who are hotter, people who are uglier. More smart; not more smart. Innies, outies. I don’t know, a Catholic person.”

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A Conversation with Charlotte Cardin at Wayhome 2017

Let’s face it: Wayhome can be an overwhelming experience. With an onslaught of new artists being featured each year, it’s often hard to know which set to choose and you can easily get lost in the chaos. Once in awhile, if you take a break from the Bacardi tent and head over to one of the three stages, you can experience something magical.

This is what I noticed when I, along with our editor-in-chief, Drew Brown, skipped a round and went over to check out Charlotte Cardin’s set. I’ve been a fan of Charlotte’s for the past year, after hearing her debut EP, Big Boy. I quickly became a fan of her soul-enriching voice, and lyrical genius. I felt I related to a lot of her music — her stories of heartbreak and love lost, and wanted to meet the genius behind the music.

We were lucky enough and had the opportunity to sit down with Charlotte for a few minutes after her Wayhome set, and learned a bit more about her process and what is next to come.

Kimberley Drapack: How is your Wayhome experience treating you so far?

Charlotte Cardin: I love it. We got here at 11. I haven’t seen anything yet, but we were the first show. I am definitely looking forward to seeing more acts. Solange, for sure.

We had a show yesterday in Quebec, and it was a two hour drive from our house, so we got home at like 2 AM and woke up at 4 AM to catch the flight, so we had no sleep.

K: You expend a lot of energy on stage. Your show is really live and fun to watch, you must be really tired afterwards.

CC: There’s a bit of a crash, but we’re going to eat and then take a nap.

K: Is this your first music festival?

CC: No, we played a few. This year we played Bonnaroo, the Montreal Jazz Fest. We also played one in Quebec, and last year we played Osheaga, and the Winnipeg fest this year.

K: Do you have any special prep you need to do before a festival performance vs. a show at home?

CC: Not really. I see both performances the same way. The only preparation I do is I go through the setlist with the band and if we have questions, we bring it up. That takes like seven seconds.

K: By now you must know your set so well.

CC: We played it a lot, so definitely. Sometimes I sort of visualize when I’m more nervous. There’s no crazy preparation.

K: I always wondered how you remembered your setlist so well, because the transitions in between songs are so seamless.

CC: Sometimes you’ll just skip one, and think, “Oh, I forgot to play that one.” The first year and a half, we always had a written setlist, but now we just know.

K: When did you first learn that you loved music and started to write your own?

CC: I started singing when I was very young. I started singing lessons at eight but I had already been singing with my mom and my sisters for fun. I started writing when I was sixteen or seventeen. I had written a few songs before that, but just to try something new. I’m twenty-two now.

K: You’ve done so much already.

CC: Yeah, it’s been really great. I’ve been working hard and a lot of really cool opportunities have presented themselves.

K: Who are some of your musical influences?

CC: I love Radiohead, very much, although we have very different genres, I just love the atmosphere they create. I love old jazz. Nina Simone, Etta James… I listen to a bunch of different stuff… Celine Dion. Those are my main influences.

K: Your EP, Big Boy, was released in 2016. Can you tell us about the prep behind it and your writing process for it?

CC: I wrote the songs over three years. It was my whole life’s work. It was six songs, but I threw a bunch away in the process.

I took the songs that I liked the most and put them on an EP and it’s sort of this story linking the songs together. I don’t always write from personal experiences. I put myself into a certain zone and sometimes it’s even a certain character that writes.

It’s not always me talking in my songs, sometimes it’s someone else. I sometimes pretend I’m a boy writing myself into a bunch of different characters, and it’s a really fun exercise to do. People always ask, “have you been heartbroken a hundred times or are you a super dirty person?” I’m a normal person, I just like putting myself into character to write songs.

K: People often assume that there is one really bad breakup in your life and that each song is about that one person.

CC: Yeah, like Adele’s ex-boyfriend. People always ask me about that. I’ve had experiences, but I don’t feel like it’s important to talk about them. I say a lot in my songs but what’s true and what’s not true is up to people to take what they want.

K: At the 2017 SOCAN Songwriting Awards, you were a nominee in the English category for “Big Boy” and in the French category for “Faufile”, becoming the first artist in the history of the award to be nominated in both categories in the same year. What was this experience like?

CC: It was really nice. I was nominated in the French category last year. It’s nice to see that people recognize what you do and it’s not the same board judging the English part of the contest and the French part, so it’s pretty cool to see that it just sort of happened, they didn’t necessarily talk to one another. I’m not sure of that information is correct but it’s really flattering.

K: Do you have a different process when you’re writing a song in English or in French?

CC: Not really, it comes out. I don’t overthink it. I just start playing and whatever comes out is French or English. I try not to limit myself and I don’t want to censor anything. I’m not able to write on command and to write all the time, so whenever something comes out I just let it.

K: Do you ever have late nights where an idea pops into your head and you write it into a journal beside your bed?

CC: In my phone, usually. That’s way less romantic. Sometimes I’ll be on the bus and write a sentence or some words that inspires me.

K: What’s coming up for you? Do you have any new music coming out?

CC: Yes, new music really soon. We have a new single coming out called Main Girl. I don’t know when it’s going to come out but we are going to release it soon. 

We’re touring with Nick Murphy, for two months, leaving in September and October so it’s going to be fun.

K: You’re a great duo because your voices really compliment each other. Do you think you’d maybe get a song out of that collab?

CC: That would be really cool. I’m not thinking about that, but I’m super grateful to be on that tour.

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Bands Spotted: August Edition

Trying to find up-and-coming artists can be time consuming, unless you are like me with not much of a life and all the time in the world to keep an eye out for new talent. With an abundance of music coming out each month, we can sometimes get lost in the mix. Who can blame you? With websites constantly posting, articles like “Top 10 Artists You Need To Keep an Eye On” almost every other week, it can be a lot. And who’s to say that their choices are worthy?

While I may seem contradictory, I have carefully selected a list of 6 artists who you will want to add to your Spotify playlist to impress your cool friend Devon at the next kickback. Or they are a great bunch of artists to listen to on your 30+ minute commute to work on the TTC. So pick up your phone or your laptop, click away, and come along for the ride.

BROCKHAMPTION

This self-proclaimed All-American Boyband managed to pull out one of the summer’s best albums in under a month. This group is made up of Kevin Abstract, Matt Champion, JOBA, Ameer Vann and Rodney Tenor and moved to LA just one year ago. On June 6th, the group dropped their second mixtape, Saturation, and set a whole new standard for a quick turnaround in lyric writing and music production.

JESSIE REYEZ

Toronto-born artist Jessie Reyez has the ultimate response to a cheating ex: write a song about him. Debuting in August of 2016, the song, Figures, has over 5,676,499 views, and is still climbing. Jessie is thankful for Toronto’s eclectic music scene, for allowing her to create the music we are so grateful that she is sharing. Jessie released her debut EP, Kiddo, this past April.

DEEM SPENCER

Deem Spencer is a 21-year-old artist hailing from Queens. Mixing influences of pop, R&B, and soul, he creates a fusion of sounds that make up a flawless soundscape. In October 2016, he released his EP, sunflowerthat weaves together emotional lyrics with a hopeful optimism. We see great things up-and-coming for this youngster, and we urge you to keep an eye out.

SABRINA CLAUDIO

This rising R&B singer is a Miami native who now calls L.A. home. In March 2017, she released her EP, Confidently Lost, written exclusively by herself, that discusses heartbreaks and revivals that any young adult can relate to. Along with the story told through her lyrics, Sabrina works hard to express a story through her expressive videos, revealing complementary aesthetics that blend in with her melodic voice.

JELANIE ARYEH

Jelani Aryeh is a 17-year old from a small town in San Diego who is inspired by the likes of Brockhampton and Frank Ocean. Released about a month ago, his debut EP, Suburban Destinesia, is inspired by his suburban upbringing and the banalities it may hold. Destinesia is described as the following sensation: “when you get to where you were intending to go, you forget why you were going there in the first place.”

DUA LIPA

Dua Lipa has gained exposure across the globe with her her self-titled debut album released earlier this year. This UK native has climbed her way up the charts producing bangers after bangers. She is the perfect addition to any summer playlist. Not only are we at Novella giving her the stamp of approval, but big artists like Lorde have tweeted out words of praise for her video, New Rules.

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Haunted Houses and Broken Houses and Other News

photo by William Christenberry

What To Expect From TIFF 2017

There are things we can always expect from TIFF: celebrity sightings, the shut down of King St W, the madness of rush tickets, and, of course, movies spanning across every genre.

At the opening press conference for the Toronto International Film Festival’s 2017 edition, Piers Handling, CEO and Director of TIFF, and Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director, introduced the first batch of films in what promises to be a “tighter, more focused” line up. That could mean any number of things. Will the lineup feature fewer international films? Will there be fewer films from independent production companies?

In the midst of these speculations, we should note that TIFF is still one of the largest film festivals in the world. It’s a period of madly dashing between theatres to catch as many films as humanly possible. Last year’s festival showed 68 films in ten days.

A festival of this scale has no excuse for not having a diverse lineup. Past years have shown a decent amount of international releases, and this year is no exception. Of the films announced so far countries of origin include France, Italy, the United Kingdom, India, Sweden, Chile, and, of course, Canada. The overwhelming majority so far does go to American films, which was the case last year, with Canadian or international premieres of much-hyped big-studio movies with whispers of Oscar nominations trailing in their wake.

While premiering these films in Canada is exciting — and in Toronto we love to be on top of those premieres — these are films that will be widely distributed come Fall and Winter, and they come from a large budget with an impressive studio backing. International distribution is one matter, but my hope is when the full list is revealed, we will see a few more independent productions.

We still have a few holes left in the programming of this year’s festival, but what we do have so far is a good indication as to what we can expect from TIFF’s 42nd year.

The opening film for the festival is the world premiere of Janus Metz’s tennis biopic Borg/McEnroe. This announcement came roughly a week after the first press conference, and the film is an interesting choice, given that another tennis biopic, Battle of the Sexes, directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, will be showing as a part of the Special Presentations. There were speculations that Dennis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 would kick off the festival, but clearly we’ve gone in a different direction that has no Canadian connection or box-office-breaking leads.

The closing night film of the Gala presentations this year is Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano’s C’est la vie! Nakache and Toledano were the directing duo behind the wonderful 2011 film Les Intouchables, so they will be greeted in Canada with high expectations. The opener of the Special Presentations is Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut. This is an already buzzed-about pick as Gerwig has established herself as a strong, young presence in acting and writing. Closing the Special Presentations will be Egyptian director Amr Salama’s Sheikh Jackson, about an Islamic cleric whose childhood hero is Michael Jackson. It will be the world premiere of Salama’s film.

The roster so far also includes George Clooney’s directorial debut, Suburbicon, and Angelina Jolie’s First They Killed My Father. Jolie was also part of the production team on The Breadwinner, a multinational production directed by Nora Twomey, which is the only animation announced for the festival so far.

Piers Handling had suggested in an off-the-cuff way that one of the themes of this year’s festival could be survival, with films such as David Gordon Green’s Stronger, Hany Abu-Assad’s The Mountain Between Us, Andy Serkis’ Breathe and Longtime Running, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier’s documentary on The Tragically Hip’s last tour. These are films where the notion of survival is made literal. There are physical obstacles in the way of the protagonists, some that they can overcome and some they may not be able to.

Some of the other films, Disobedience (Sebastián Lelio), The Hungry (Bornilla Chatterjee), Woman Walks Ahead (Susanna White), and The Square (Ruben Östlund, who won the Palme d’Or at Cannes for the film earlier this year) features stories of outliers, revised histories, or social satire — very different ideas, but ones that are in line with our current cultural appetite and ways of thinking given recent events happening in around the world.

While I have my own wishes for the next slate of announcements, we do know that, despite having a reportedly smaller list of titles, TIFF 2017 will continue to be a showing place for hyped American movies and international gems waiting to be greeted with open arms by a North American audience.

The full list of documentaries, short titles, and first slate of feature films can be found here.

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