“Winter House” Brings Another Bisexual to Bravo

Is Bravo the most bisexual network on television? MAYBE SO.

Welcome to another very important Bravo Dyke report. Today, we’re taking a trip to the vacation nightmare series Winter House. For those who have yet to foray into this particular sector of Bravo, Winter House is an crossover offshoot of both Southern Charm and Summer House, featuring cast members from each as well as a few randos. Winter House was a Covid creation, a way to produce a reality show contained to one location (Summer House indeed had the easiest time transitioning in 2020 of any of the Bravo shows). It’s about people getting fucked up in a vacation house for many days and nights on end, playing drinking games and throwing haphazardly themed parties, the single folks also playing a game of Whomst Shall Hook Up With Whomst. If it sounds like a barely there premise, that’s because it is!

One of the randos thrown into the mix this season is Jessica Stocker, whose actual “job” is in realty………..in the Metaverse. Every time the chyron underneath her says “Metaverse Entrepreneur,” a small part of me dies.

In episode four, Paige asks Jessica if she’s bisexual, and Jessica replies in the affirmative but also says she’d never necessarily date a woman. She just likes to hook up with them, and she tells the group she has slept with about ten women. Amanda, in classic Leo fashion, wants to know which girl in the group is Jessica’s type. Jessica replies without any hesitation: Ciara. Who immediately wonders if they should make out. They don’t, but they do do a quick little kiss. I’ll take it!

My first thought upon meeting Jessica was the first thought most of the cast members have upon meeting Jessica: She looks a lot like Lindsay. And as it turns out, there’s more than just the physical alikeness! Lindsay has also talked about hooking up with girls before on Summer House, opting to use the truly upsetting phrase “I have munched a box” to do so. Lovebirds Lindsay and Carl aren’t part of the main cast of Winter House this season, but they’ll apparently be coming on as guests at some point as the season unfolds.

As thrilled as I am to welcome yet another bisexual to the Bravoverse, I’m way more interested in Jessica’s storyline that comes before this casual reveal. The first couple episodes of the new season show Luke steadily pursuing Jessica. At first, she’s into it. Then, she’s not. Suddenly, Winter House finds itself wading into really serious territory regarding consent and boundaries. Jessica should have never been put in this position, and here’s too where the ethical murkiness of making reality television comes to the forefront, because at what point would a producer or cameraperson have finally stepped in? Though she never should have had to do this, Jessica ends up very clearly and directly addressing what was wrong about Luke’s behavior when he failed to ignore her body language (and verbal cues! the first time he asks to kiss her in the hot tub, she says no). She reiterates that it’s completely her right to change her mind about him, that consent once doesn’t mean consent forever, and that a lot of times straight men will ignore these things, will assume that when a woman says she’s interested that means it’s fair game to flirt and touch.

Luke ends up leaving the house after Craig calls him out for being creepy around the girls. But he comes back the next day and wants to sit down with Jessica to apologize. She doesn’t let him. She says that she’s going to talk about how she felt and that she doesn’t want him to respond at all. She doesn’t want him making excuses or attempting to rationalize or downplay his behavior. It’s honestly a powerful display of agency and self-advocacy on her part. She doesn’t want a dialogue. She wants to explain the harm and then rebuild from there. She’s uninterested in punishing Luke; she never even asked him to leave the house. That a decision he made himself that seemed to come from a place of playing the victim. Rather than retribution, she seeks genuine growth from Luke, wants him to understand how she felt and then move forward from there. The other housemates follow her cues. When Craig — who previously said he’d throw Luke through a window if he kept being a creep — sees that Jessica is able to be on okay terms with Luke, he decides to move forward with Luke, too.

This is not reality television drama. This is real-life conflict. When Luke rubs Jessica’s shoulders without her consent, there’s a violation here on multiple levels, because they’re also technically coworkers on this show together. Luke will also see all of this play out for himself now that the show is airing. Jessica is forced to relive it by watching (which you can tell has an effect on her based on some of her emotional reactions in testimonials). Again I’m left wondering at what point — if any — anyone would have stepped in to mitigate the situation. The cast members try in little ways, like Amanda asking Jessica if she’s alright when Luke sits down next to her. But the presence of the cameras makes everything much more difficult to navigate, and the onus ends up falling on Jessica to handle the situation, which is far from fair, even if she does ultimately handle things completely on her terms and in a very empowering way.

Reality television can both expose a person’s bad behavior and also obscure it by turning it into drama. We see that over and over again on these shows. This is not the first time Luke has pursued a woman who wasn’t interested in him, and even though we never saw him cross a boundary as blatantly before as he does now, there’s a very clear pattern here. But Summer House long framed him as just some Midwestern bachelor with bad luck in the past, perhaps obscuring what’s really a troubling pattern of behavior with women. This time, there’s no room for ambiguity. And Jessica makes sure this doesn’t become dramatized or turn into her storyline for the season, which would be gross and unfair. She shuts it down, communicates what she needs to, and moves along. She has the final word, and that’s how it should be.

Anyway, if any other Bravolebrities would like to come out as bisexual, it’d be great for me personally and professionally.


Before you go! It costs money to make indie queer media, and frankly, we need more members to survive 2023As thanks for LITERALLY keeping us alive, A+ members get access to bonus content, extra Saturday puzzles, and more! Will you join? Cancel anytime.

Join A+!
Related:

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Miami. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 458 articles for us.

1 Comment

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!