On September 8th, 2017 the hit animated TV series “BoJack Horseman” became the first ever television show to say the word asexual aloud. At the same time, one of the leading characters, Todd, became the first ever confirmed asexual character on television.
Throughout the series, Todd seemed to struggle with his identity. Several scenes showed Todd not picking up on sexualy or romantically suggestive situations, and in season four Todd is quoted as saying, “I’m not gay. I mean, I don’t think I am, but… I don’t think I’m straight, either. I don’t know what I am. I think I might be nothing.”
This line resonated with a lot of people in the asexual community who admitted they felt similarly before realizing they were asexual. A lack of representation hits the asexual community especially hard. Few characters on television or in movies have ever shown asexual characteristics, making it hard for a-spec people to find themselves in popular media. Some characters such as Sherlock Holmes, Sheldon Cooper, and Jughead have been accepted into the asexual community as a-spec characters, but up until Todd Chavez, none have been confirmed as such, much less said the word out loud.
In a heteronormative world with next to zero representation in the media, asexuals and aromantics have an extra hard time coming to terms with their identity. For some people, Todd exclaiming that he’s asexual on television may have been the first time they had heard the word, period. And in a sex-obsessed world, it’s no wonder so many a-spec people take so long to realize who they are.
Todd Chavez coming out on television is especially important because of who he is as a character. First of all, he’s lovable. He has a quirky, likeable personality, and he’s interesting; someone you’d want to be friends with. Second, he has several close and loving relationships on the show, and he’s got feelings. He’s not an unfeeling robot and his lack of sexual attraction doesn’t make him any less human than his companion characters. This can’t be said for almost all headcannoned asexual characters. Both Sherlock Holmes and Sheldon Cooper have very stiff, stuffy personalities. They lack almost any sort of affection whether it be toward friends or romantic partners. And for the most part, they’re emotionless shells, barely human. But very few headcannoned asexuals are protagonists in movies or television shows. Most are cold, unfeeling villains such as Voldemort from Harry Potter, Moriarty from Sherlock, or Dexter Morgan from Dexter. And if they’re not villains, they’re mentally insane, or both. This creates a toxic image of asexual people as being less than human. Todd is one of the very few characters to portray asexuality in a positive light.
Todd’s asexual announcement has made asexual history, and will hopefully pave the way for even more positive a-spec representation in all forms of entertainment. Todd Chavez has become an asexual television idol for a-spec people to see themselves represented in. I have no doubt that by actually hearing the word asexual on television will help many non-asexual people understand the orientation, and many a-spec people come to better realize who they are.