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Review: The Bisexual, Channel 4, Episode 1

Not seen it yet? Don’t panic. No spoilers, so read on

With the B in LGBTQ acknowledged as the overlooked relation in the non-hetero acronym of rainbow sexualities, Channel 4’s timing of the release of Desiree Akhavan’s witty comedy drama is either proof positive that someone at the broadcaster has recently made a human sacrifice to the gods of TV scheduling, or otherwise¬†a stroke of serendipitous good fortune. Either way, I loved it.

Akhavan, credited as co-star, executive producer, co-creator, co-writer and director, has pulled off the deceptively difficult trick of producing a sub-half hour first episode which manages to draw rounded characters with no let up in driving the plot forward. First episodes frequently fall into the trap of too much characterisation with too little plot, or vice-versa, with often dull, off-putting expositions which serve only to haemorrhage viewers before the second episode.

Brian Gleeson as Gabe

It helps, of course, that the screenplay is chock full of witty one liners and laugh-out-loud set pieces, delivered by an accomplished ensemble of famous and not so famous names. I particularly enjoyed the scene, admittedly not entirely original, where one of the characters was attempting to engage in a half-hearted, nothing-better-to-do wank while, on the other side of her bedroom wall, a shagging couple’s lovemaking became increasingly abandoned and vocal as their inevitable climax approached.

Akhavan as Leila, the ever-reliable Maxine Peake as Sadie, and Brian Gleeson as the trying-to-be-cool-around-lesbians Gabe demonstrate an engaging and naturalistic lightness of touch, and I was completely bowled over by the quite brilliant Saskia Chana as Deniz. I hope we see more of her in the remaining episodes.

So – a great first episode and, in all honesty, if I didn’t have to be somewhere else I could quite easily have binged on the whole box set. Highly recommended.

 

The Bisexual is broadcast on Channel 4 at 10pm every Wednesday, with all  episodes available to watch right here.

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