Gay or Straight? Little Bit o’ Both as ‘Whitney’ Explores Bisexuality

Whitney Cummings and Maulik Pancholy in "Whitney" (Photo: NBC)

A character in the NBC sitcom “Whitney” may or not be gay, but we do know this: He’s dating a man.

Confused? Well, the titular star of the show, Whitney Cummings, acknowledged the possibility of confusion in an interview about this week’s episode. Titled “The G-Word” (the “G” stands for gay), the episode airs Wednesday night (March 14) at 8/7c on NBC.

“I think ‘bisexual’ is something that we don’t like to talk about a lot because it’s vague and we like putting people in boxes,” Cummings told us on the phone on Wednesday. “We like gay and we like straight, but in-between is confusing to us.”

“In-between” is where we find the character of Neal (Maulik Pancholy), who has broken off his engagement with Lily (Zoe Lister Jones). In “The G-Word,” Whitney and her friends discover Neal preparing an intimate dinner at home for himself and a male friend. And while that might seem gay to most of us, Whitney says Neal remains undecided.

“It’s not like he woke up one morning and said, ‘I’m gay!'” she says. “It’s not like that at all. He comes from a very conservative family where exploring sexuality was not an option and he looks back and he realizes he’s had tendencies before. But he fell in love with Lily and after they break up, he finds himself attracted to one man – not every man. He’s not all of a sudden gay – just one man in particular. [He’s] very confused [and] scared.”

Get caught up with “Whitney” with last week’s episode, “The Ex Box”:
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Whitney said she and the show’s writers are already exploring where to take this confused, apparently bisexual character next season, if there is one. On that subject, she expressed confidence that “Whitney” will get picked up for Season Two, though she hasn’t heard that yet from NBC. The show draws in the neighborhood of 4 million viewers a week. And while that’s a low number by the standards of say, CBS, it’s drawing a greater viewership than other comedies on NBC such as “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Are You There, Chelsea?” and “Community.”

“We’re taking this very slowly,” she said of the Neal storyline. “Next year, he’ll go out on a date with a guy and then he might date another girl! So he’s dating both, which is a very tricky thing. . . . I’m really proud of the way that we handled it.”

The “G-Word” episode of “Whitney” airs Wednesday night (March 14) at 8/7c on NBC.

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