Actress Sara Ramirez, known for her 10-year run on the ABC medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, is calling out her old network over a joke about bisexual people that she found offensive in a recent episode of The Real O’Neals.
Ramirez, who identifies as bisexual and played a bisexual character on Grey’s, tweeted Thursday that she was “truly disheartened and disappointed” by the joke, adding, “I will invest my brand where I’m respected.”
On the Jan. 17 episode of Real O’Neals, Noah Galvin’s openly gay character, Kenny, compared being bisexual to having “webbed toes” or “money problems.”
Today Ramirez tweeted a link to a Change.org petition imploring ABC to “end biphobia and bi-erasure” on the sitcom. “Words matter,” Ramirez wrote. In a subsequent tweet, she asked the network and show to “own” and “address” the joke, and to “empower our #Queer and #Bisexual youth & community w/accurate positive reflections.”
Ramirez also retweeted a Jan. 18 statement from the LGBTQ advocacy group PFLAG, which partnered on the episode in question. “We were so focused on the family acceptance portion of the episode that we completely missed the joke,” the statement said. “In hindsight, we should have caught it and we blew it. We should have done better and we will definitely do better next time. As allies we have a responsibility to own it when we mess up.”
Galvin also addressed the joke last month on Twitter, writing that the show “respects and loves the bi community,” and that the joke represented “a panicky teen expressing his ‘deepest fear’ which was his boyfriend leaving him for a girl.” He added, “I am sorry if we offended anyone. I hope you know our show fights for visibility and inclusivity and we will do better in the future. BUT, we also have to remember, it’s a comedy.”
ABC declined to comment on Ramirez’s criticism.
The Real O’Neals previously found itself at the center of controversy last year when Galvin gave an interview in which he disparaged Eric Stonestreet’s portrayal of a gay man on Modern Family, derided Arrow actor Colton Haynes’ decision to publicly come out as gay, and made “false and unwarranted” allegations about director Bryan Singer. Galvin publicly apologized for his remarks.