There are a lot of potential explanations. The (overlapping) ones I'm drawn to are all downers.
I think there's a sizable chunk of Americans who have an easier time wrapping their heads around women being bi because on some level they don't really think of women as experiencing sexual desire or pleasure (they just picture women feeling romantic or lonely). In other words, people are less fazed by women being bisexual because they don't really buy that women are sexual in the first place. Relatedly, I think a bunch of Americans still don't buy that anything that takes place between women can qualify as sex. So same-sex intimacy between women, in this mindset, doesn't conflict with opposite-sex sex because it's really just foreplay.
And I think there's a strain in patriarchal culture that is more threatened by lesbianism than by female bisexuality, but more threatened by male bisexuality than by male homosexuality. Bisexual women are seen as less threatening than homosexual ones because they're imagined to still be sexually available to men (with this goes the myth that LGBT women are just waiting for the right man). Bisexual men are seen as more threatening than homosexual ones because our existence further complicates the dichotomy between normative macho heterosexuality and everything else - and increases the burden on men of proving they conform to normative exclusive heterosexuality. Sexual availability has a particular significance on TV, where many shows' plot/ character arcs revolve around the number of real or potential romantic pairings among the cast. On most mainstream US TV shows, bisexual women (and maybe lesbians as well) are seen as potential partners for men, but bisexual men wouldn't be seen as potential partners for women.
In other words, even when we get to see LGBT characters on TV, what we see is circumscribed by what least discomforts macho straight men. So what else is new? Would love to hear what Alyssa and Lux make of this.
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