Not only was Kalinda Sharma considered one of the best bisexual characters in TV history; she was considered one of the best-written characters ever put on television, according to many TV critics.
But now, Archie Panjabi, the actress who helped create the character, is moving on to a development deal with 20th Century Fox TV. Subsequently, her character is being written off in the show’s sixth season.
Some fans, and critics alike, have complained about the departure and also complain that the mysterious leather-booted investigator should leave in a more flamboyant departure.
That remains to be seen, the finale is coming up on Sunday night.
Actress Panjabi has loved playing the character who manipulates men and women equally. She has said in interviews, that for her bisexual character “it’s less about the sex she’s attracted to and more about the mind” and “you’ll always see flirtation with Kalinda, that’s who she is.”
Some bi activists may complain that Kalinda fits too many stereotypes as a bisexual, for example:
- She often wears leather and is stylishly dressed,
- Nearly everyone is a potential conquest,
- She doesn’t have a solid relationship,
- It’s easy for her to switch from one person to another, no matter what gender.
Kalinda’s character soon eclipsed all the others in this series as the most-Tweeted-about character on the show. Actress Archie Panjabi won an Emmy for the role and was nominated for a Golden Globe.
There’s some frank discussion about her sexuality on the show. For example, in a scene from Season One, Kalinda talks with Lana, an FBI agent, played by actress Jill Flint. Lana is trying to seduce Kalinda.
Lana: I’m taking off my shoe. See?
Kalinda: I can see.
Lana: I’m stretching out my foot. Are you all right with that?
Kalinda: Oh you have to stretch, stretch.
(Lana is running her stocking foot up Kalinda’s leg to the edge of her skirt.)
Lana: Why do you like men?
Kalinda: Why do I like men?
Lana: Yes, sex with men. Why do you like it?
Kalinda: I don’t distinguish.
Lana: You don’t have a preference?
Lana: You were saying?
Kalinda: I was saying Italian, Mexican, Thai — why does one choose one food over the other?
Lana: Because sex is not food.
Kalinda: Because of love.
Lana: Or intimacy. Don’t you want intimacy?
What the audience knows about this mysterious character is that she’s about 25 years old, she was married, she drives a blue Chevy Trailblazer, and she is unashamedly bisexual. She is also seductive. One co-worker (Cary) says, “I know plenty of people who knew their sexuality. Then they met Kalinda.”
In another scene where she discusses her sexuality, it’s with a guy, Blake (played by Scott Porter).
Blake: Donna thinks you like women more than men.
Kalinda: Sometimes. Depends. Where’s my baseball bat?
Blake: It’s in my bag.
Kalinda: I want it back.
(He hands it to her from his bag behind him on the couch.)
In an interview with The Daily Beast about her role, Panjabi talked about how proud she was of the groundbreaking character:
“I don’t think there’s ever been a no-nonsense, bisexual investigator of Indian origin. I think people are always excited by something new. Some people just like her because she wears thigh-high boots and goes around smashing cars with baseball bats, but there are so many different reasons why people connect with her… I was worried that some people may find her too strong and too sharp.”
“I can understand men liking her because of the whole sexy thing, but how many women resonate with that character surprised me. There are a lot of women like that in society who are intelligent but are not buttoned up, who are happy to celebrate their sexuality, who are confident about themselves, and who are respected by their superiors. It’s a new kind of woman on TV, but it’s just reflecting what’s going on in society. Kalinda is never looked at as somebody who’s bisexual or ethnic. She’s just looked at as a confident woman.”
The show’s creator and writer, Michelle King, said Kalinda will be in the finale, despite her abrupt departure in a recent show. Executive producer Robert King added, “[The finale] answers a lot of questions regarding Kalinda, which I think there will be some mystery about.”
In the last episode, Kalinda is saying good-bye to characters after she decides to flee after turning in evidence against Bishop. She kisses Cary, calls Diane and leaves Alicia a note.
Then, just before a door closes on her character, she says, “Good-bye.”