Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Character Just Came Out As Bisexual

The Fox sitcom "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" dropped some big information about one of its characters during its 99th episode Tuesday night: tough-as-nails detective Rosa Diaz revealed that she said: "I'm bisexual and dating a woman".

When co-worker Charles attempts to support her, she brushes him off at first, only to apologize later and say she didn’t think who she dated was anyone’s business.

Diaz’s revelation might surprise some fans, but not Stephanie Beatriz, the actress who plays her. She told Entertainment Weekly there were hints as far back as the first season. (The show is now in its fifth season.)

“There’s a great episodeSeason 1’s ‘The Vulture’] where Jake and Rosa mention Tonya Harding, and Rosa off the cuff says, ‘Yeah, she’s thick,’ as a compliment to Tonya,” Beatriz explained. “Ever since the episode, which was pretty early on, I thought, ‘Oh, Rosa is not heterosexual. She’s much more open to being bi or queer than I would have thought before.’”

I was hyped watching “99,” but I got even more excited after the episode when both Entertainment Weekly and Variety published interviews with Stephanie Beatriz. I’ve been doing this job for ten years and the most consistently frustrating thing is trying to get TV writers to listen and believe me when I explain why something is important, why something is harmful, and what makes gay storylines resonate. It feels like yelling at a wall most of the time. But then there’s Stephanie Beatriz, an openly bisexual woman in the room where TV happens. When she pitched the idea to them about Rosa being bi, they told her they’d actually been planning to pitch that to her anyway. And then they sat down with her and talked about what it’s like to be a bisexual Latina in this world.

Beatriz herself revealed that she identifies as bisexual people on Twitter in July 2016. She became engaged to actor Brad Hoss in October.

Before the current season, Beatriz had planned to suggest her character might also be bisexual, only to find out the show’s writers were on the same page.

“I was really excited about it,” she said. “I hadn’t really seen much of that representation in television that I personally watch. I know it’s out there, but often times it’s written in a specific way. ‘Let’s introduce a gay character and quickly kill them off,’ so you have the ride of the complexity of this amazing character, but also [you do] not necessarily deal with them over the course of our entire show.’”

Beatriz said because her character is already an established part of the show, the writers won’t be able to fall back on other tropes that befall bisexual characters, such as being “hypersexualized and sometimes duplicitous.”

“That’s not to say that every bi character on TV is like that, but … a lot of them are, and that’s disappointing to me as somebody who identifies as bi or queer, because I’m not duplicitous or villainous,” she said.

Oftentimes bi characters are hypersexualized and sometimes duplicitous, and they’re playing both sides, or they’re simply defined by their sexuality and not by anything else. That’s not to say that every bi character on TV is like that, but … a lot of them are, and that’s disappointing to me as somebody who identifies as bi or queer, because I’m not duplicitous or villainous. [Laughs.] At least I try not to be most of the time in my life. And let’s say you live in a place that you don’t know very many bi people, or you haven’t had access to many people that identify as LGBTQ in your life, and you’re gathering information from television — or let’s say you’re a kid who’s still figuring stuff out about yourself and you haven’t come out, and you don’t even know who or what you are and you’re seeing images of parts of yourself reflected in TV — the way other characters respond to a mirror of yourself, those messages are big. And they’re really taken in by all of us. There’s a reason that people sometimes think bi sexuality is not something that’s a real thing, which is so mindboggling to me, but I can see how that might happen if that access isn’t there. How are you ever going to appreciate, I don’t know, the color blue if you’ve never ever seen it, you’re just going to be terrified of this weird thing — there’s this weird mix of green and yellow, and you don’t understand it at all.

Executive producer Dan Goor told Variety that Beatriz’s own choice to come out did influence the plotline.

“That idea was definitely generated by the real life fact that [Beatriz] came out recently as bisexual,” he said. “It felt like an interesting journey for the character to take as well, and a story we were really excited to tackle.”

Viewers will learn more about Diaz’s life away from the police station on next Tuesday’s episode, but Goor said in the short term, the writers will likely have her date different people rather than one significant other.