The Golden Age of the Pansexual TV Character Is Upon Us

Small-screen characters are loving everyone this year

Lady Gaga American Horror Story pansexual

(Photo: Facebook/AmericanHorrorStory)

Last winter, CBC comedy Schitt’s Creek featured the twist of the season: everyone-assumed-he’s-gay David (Dan Levy) hooked up with gal pal Stevie (Emily Hampshire), and when she admitted she was surprised he wanted to hit it, David casually dropped that he was, in fact, pansexual—i.e., open to any sex or gender.

Even better, David’s pansexuality reveal wasn’t treated like a Very Special Episode. Instead, his nonchalance was matched by that of the majority of his friends and family, and when his dad wondered if life would be easier for David if he chose a “side,” the town’s mayor stepped up to remind him that you can’t tell somebody who or how to love. (Preach.)

The season two premiere (Jan. 12) kicks off a truly pan-tastic year of entertainment: David is just one of the growing ranks of love-whoever characters on TV that star in prestige dramas (Game of Thrones, Penny Dreadful, Halt and Catch Fire), streaming hits (Transparent, Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards) and even tween-oriented basic cable (Teen WolfScream Queens).


Pansexual characters on How to Get Away With Murder, Transparent and Schitt’s Creek

More important, each series’ #BecauseIts2015 approach to pansexuality is just as casual as Schitt’s Creek’s is. Recent diversity coups include Ilana on Broad City’s fling with Alia Shawkat (while she continued to semidate Hannibal Buress’s Lincoln). Over on How to Get Away with Murder, series lead Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) beds both men and women on the regular. Special shout-out to Ryan Murphy for taking pans way visible—American Horror Story: Hotel featured a gay man in love with a cis woman, a straight man in love with a trans woman and Lady Gaga’s bisexual-since-1925 Countess in love with everyone (new orientation: Rudolph Valentino). Meanwhile, in the wide world of sci-fi, Sense8 and Other Space featured exclusively pansexual main characters.

Of course, this isn’t the first time TV has taken risks with LGBTQ characters: Queer as Folk, The L Word, and even Sex and the City were groundbreaking for their exploration of gay, lesbian and bisexual stories, but it’s about time pansexual characters got a turn to tell theirs. In the rapidly changing sexual landscape of 2016—where more and more millennials refuse to be defined by sexual or gender norms—it makes sense to finally see pansexuality treated as merely part of somebody’s story, not the story.

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