The So-Called Bisexual Representation In “Roswell, New Mexico” Is Problematic?

roswell new mexico Carina Adly McKenzie
Image: cadlymack

When Roswell, New Mexico creator Carina Adly McKenzie began hyping the queer representation on the series (without having much to show for it in the episodes), I grew hesitant. And now, ten episodes in, I find the so-called bisexual representation to be quite problematic.

I’m always on the lookout for content featuring positive queer representation. I try and write about it for this website to have such content on your radar. However, I didn’t write a single piece about Roswell, New Mexico even when it was getting praise for the queer rep in its premiere episode because of McKenzie.

When showrunners or creators pat themselves on the back and talk about the good work they have done regarding LGBTQIA+ representation, I go into ‘I’ll-believe-it-when-I-see-it’ mode.

And you know what? I’m glad I didn’t invest in Roswell, New Mexico due to certain tweets and interviews from McKenzie. So, I guess I should thank her?

roswell new mexico carina adly mckenzie
Image: @cadlymack

Basically, the show was getting some promotion due to the reboot having queer characters (after changing the sexualities of the characters from the original show). Alex was made gay while Michael was turned bisexual in the current reboot.

For those who don’t know, in the original, Michael’s love interest is Maria. So, certain fans were interested to see if Michael and Maria would still be a thing now that Michael is bisexual and has a sexual relationship with Alex (their ship name being Malex).

However, instead of giving the audience positive bisexual representation, McKenzie and the writing team decided to exploit Michael’s bisexuality, which I knew would happen because again, McKenzie was talking about how well-written the queer representation was going to be on the show.

Here’s what she said in an interview:

The Alex and Michael relationship is really important to me, because I feel a big responsibility to viewers to sort of make them feel safe. I know that LGBT audiences have felt burned a lot in the past, by the whole “bury your gays” trope. I wanted to tell a story that doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending — I can’t make any promises — but that certainly avoids stepping into tropes. Their relationship is very fraught, and it’s going to be a really long journey for the two of them.

On that note, Alex is gay, Michael is bisexual, and we will be exploring Michael’s relationships with women on the show too. I think there’s a real lack of bisexual representation on TV, and I want to make sure that my show fills a gap that I’m seeing.

Why do showrunners do that? Why do they praise themselves and expect praise in return for doing the least?

Right now, Michael seems to be following a damaging bisexual stereotype which is all about how bisexuals can’t be trusted due to their desire to sleep around.

In episode 9 (correct me if I’m wrong), Michael sleeps with Maria and in the same episode, Michael also tells Alex the bond he shares with him is cosmic.

In episode 10 (which aired on March 26, 2019, on The CW), Alex tells Maria about Michael and due to Alex being her best friend, she says she won’t hook up with Michael again. Now, all of that would have been okay because Maria didn’t know about Alex and Michael’s history, but in the same episode when Maria tells Michael she can’t have a sexual relationship with him, Michael appears visibly sad.

Why would Michael be sad when he told Alex they share a cosmic bond and also showed Alex his secret plan?

I’ll tell you why! It is because bisexuals can’t be trusted with their feelings because their sexual desires are all over the place. Sigh!

It is a complete mess. McKenzie is using bisexuality for a basic love triangle which does nothing for positive queer representation on TV screens.

roswell carina adly mckenzie malec
Image: @cadlymack

So, if you were hoping to begin watching Roswell, New Mexico for the queer content (especially the bisexual kind), I recommend you don’t.

You should consider watching Hit the Floor, Shadowhunters and The Magicians instead. And even The 100 (which, yes, is problematic, but still better than what Roswell, New Mexico offers).

I also highly recommend Schitt’s Creek which features a pansexual male lead and his sexuality isn’t exploited for poor writing tactics.

If McKenzie wanted “to make sure that my show fills a gap that I’m seeing,” when it comes to queer representation, it would have helped if she had spent some time researching other shows which are doing a good job (without tooting their own horn about it), and then worked on doing the same or something better.

As far as I know, Roswell, New Mexico hasn’t been picked up for a second season. And frankly, I don’t want it to be picked up if this is the level of queer representation this series will continue to give and feel proud of.

Of course, this was my opinion regarding Roswell, New Mexico. If it works for you, then sure, continue watching.

Feel free to share your thoughts with us.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.


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About the author

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

Comments

    1. Good call! I’m actually thankful the showrunner tweeted all such stuff and did interviews to hype the way she was writing bisexual representation on the show. It was a clear warning for me.

    1. Lol, yeah. Being aired on The CW is also why I decide to keep Riverdale alone as well as certain queer rep in the Arrowverse shows. However, seeing McKenzie hyping up the so-called great stuff she was doing for queer representation is what made me write about Roswell, NM. Like, where is that rep, McKenzie? Because I don’t see it!

  1. I think CW will always have this problem, because to them, love triangles are the apex of drama. It’s basically the last resort of the lazy writer who can’t create realistic drama, nor can they write realistic relationships.
    You mentioned Schitt’s Creek (David + Patrick) and that to me, is the best show when it comes to writing a real relationship, with real drama, whilst keeping it fun. That its a queer relationship, presented as any other relationship would be, marks it out as special without it ever really trying to be.

    The Magicians is something I’m a bit more hesitant about.I’ve loved the Quentin and Eliot relationship for a long time and though it does seem like its working on a slow burn, I’m a bit wary given how several of the writers repeatedly referred to Quentin and Eliot as ‘friends’ (having spent 50 years together) in the aftermath of that amazing ep last year. They’ve even admitted that the call back to it was never planned, so I don’t think they’ve been doing some big slow burn, long game with Queliot. It’s just panned out that way so far, but it doesn’t necessarily mean thats where they’re definitely headed.

  2. Michael hooked up with Maria after Alex told him they were done.

    M: “Is this really how it ends? The sex was epic. So shouldn’t the breakup involve some pyrotechnics? Scream? Break some stuff? Really make it FEEL over.”

    A: “Sometimes the world ends with a whimper, Guerin.”

    I didn’t view Michael and Maria as bisexual promiscuity, personally. I thought it was more, “Get under someone new to get over someone else.” Maria was there and they’d been flirting for a few episodes, and they both know it wasn’t serious. I think Michael’s just lonely and tired of feeling disposable to the people he lets in. Especially because he does it so rarely.

    I would also assume “cosmic” is an alien pun.

    You’re always allowed your own opinion of course! I just have trouble understanding how you can ‘knock it,’ so to speak, until you’ve tried it. The show, I mean!

    1. Maria is Alex’s best friend. Regardless if Michael was lonely or sad about Alex, having sex with his best friend, especially when she didn’t know about them, is messed up.

      Then choosing to move it away from just a one night stand into a love triangle between a woman of color, a gay, disabled man, and a bisexual man in the middle who now likes both is a no from me. Basically, it turns into a game of “which minority group will ultimately get hurt the worst?” Even though Carina said she LOVES love triangles, the best thing she could do at this point since she already said Michael would be in other relationships is to let Alex excuse himself from this disaster and move on to somebody else. (If the show will actually allow him to have a relationship with another man.)

  3. After what happened in the most recent episode (episode 11) I have to say show runner Carina Adly MacKenzie has done what Jeff Davis did for Teen Wolf, using a WOC for nothing more than a bed warmer for a man to create cheap drama and give rise to talks about racism in the fandom. Again, signs were always there, as I mentioned in the article. So, congrats to her, I guess?

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