Netflix’s The Sandman divides LGBTQ+ fans and sparks passionate debate on representation

The Sandman, flanked by the characters Joanna Constantine (left) and Corinthian (right)

Netflix has divided LGBTQ+ viewers with its high-stakes adaptation of The Sandman.

The Sandman, an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s comic book of the same name, follows cosmic being Dream as he tries to regain his power after being imprisoned for over a century.

Like the source material, the Netflix series is filled with LGBTQ+ representation – but some viewers feel conflicted over the execution of the plots and the characters.

Some viewers raved about the inclusion of non-binary character Desire, played by a non-binary actor Mason Alexander Park.

Dubbed the “the non-binary love child of Lady Daga and Gillian Anderson,” by one fan, Desire has been a huge hit.

“Desire slayed so hard in The Sandman and i’m so happy to see a non-binary character with a non-binary actor <3,” wrote one fan.

However, some accused The Sandman of biphobia over the characterisation of Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman, playing a gender-flipped version of a comic book character named John Constantine).

I get that humans are flawed whatever their sexuality and lots of relationships are messy or end badly, but does EVERY bisexual have to be a bad person in this show?!” one Twitter user said.

Other viewers disagreed with this take, arguing that including horrible bisexual characters doesn’t necessarily make a show biphobic.

“There are so many bi and pan characters on The Sandman that it is ridiculous to cry biphobia because one of them is selfish and ruthless. The show might be biphobic if all bi characters were portrayed that way. Instead, there is a deep, gratifying diversity among them,” said one tweet.

The Sandman has, of course, drawn predictable backlash over the mere inclusion of queer characters, as well as for casting actors of colour like Kirby Howell-Baptiste, who plays Death.

When Netflix announced the cast of the adaptation in 2021, Gaiman shut down bigots complaining that its characters weren’t all straight, cis and white.

“I give zero f**ks about people who don’t understand/haven’t read Sandman whining about a non-binary Desire or that Death isn’t white enough,” he tweeted.

He confirmed Desire is also non-binary in the comic books, adding: “But you’d have to have read the comics to know that. And the shouty people appear to have skipped that step.”

The Sandman is now streaming on Netflix.