On the latest season of BoJack Horseman, released via Netflix on September 8th, 2017, one of the main characters of the show, Todd Chavez explicitly reveals he is asexual, breaking new ground for asexual/ace representation in mainstream media. Although the show has previously hinted at Todd potentially being asexual in Season 3, in which the character stated "I think I might be nothing," causing viewers to essentially assume his asexuality, this important moment in Season 4 takes a far more direct approach. The scene features a discussion between BoJack, central character of the series, and Todd, who has a complicated friendship with BoJack, yet is someone who BoJack ultimately does deeply care about. Their discussion eventually provides a moment for Todd to openly vocalize his asexuality openly to BoJack, stating "I think I'm... asexual" in a rather nervous manner. And although this initially causes some slight confusion in BoJack, Todd quickly corrects BoJack, and is subsequently and quickly affirmed. Even after providing an opportunity for his own invalidation, stating "I'm sure you think that's weird" after revealing his asexuality, BoJack immediately replies in an affirming manner, stating "Are you kidding? That's amazing." And although BoJack does throw in a few playful jokes in light of the situation, sensitive lines are never really crossed in an outright and harmfully invalidating manner.
In fact, Todd is given a moment to affirm his asexuality vocally in the presence of others and experience resulting feelings of empowerment in his own identity, exemplified in his statement that "it actually feels nice to finally say it out loud. I am an asexual person. I am asexual." These repetitive lines function as liberating expressions for Todd, and Bojack's presence operates as a source of quick affirmation and support for Todd in this critical "coming out" moment, stating "That's great" in response. When BoJack does make a potentially insensitive joke to Todd about his asexuality near the end of their quick encounter, Todd states that "I'm not really at a place where I want to joke about it" and BoJack quickly replies "Got it, got it totally," respecting Todd's feelings regarding his asexuality. Todd replies by confirming that "But it feels good to talk about it," again revealing his empowerment in vocalizing his asexual identity. Following this important discussion with BoJack, a follow-up scene shows Todd being welcomed into an "Asexual Meet-Up," which he vaguely hinted at attending throughout the episode. As shown in the title image, even more critical in this scene is the prominent placement of a sign centering the words "All Aces Welcome!" as well as featuring the colors of the asexual flag. The scene warmly closes with Todd smiling as he is accepted into the group.
This moment is an undeniably critical one for asexual/ace representation in media, and one that I would label as resoundingly successful. As any confusion surrounding Todd's asexuality is quickly quelled, non-ace viewers are able to gain a new perspective of asexuality and identity formation that is never displayed in mainstream media, particularly regarding the importance in vocalizing one's own asexuality in the presence of others, which is particularly relevant for asexuality as an emerging identity in the contemporary context that has yet to reach mainstream awareness in a positive manner. This scene in BoJack Horseman handles Todd's asexual "coming out" moment exceedingly well, allowing Todd to express how beneficial the process of openly self-affirming his identity as an asexual person is to him multiple times and receiving immediate continued affirmation and support from BoJack in response. Additionally, the follow-up scene displaying the asexual meet-up is absolutely beautiful and was initially shocking to me as an asexual person to see unfold before my eyes. It felt unreal to see such open and validating representation of asexuality. The usage of the word "aces" in this scene is also critical in regards to understanding and relaying the existence of the ace umbrella to viewers, allowing them to perceive asexuality as not just a single experience, but rather, comprising a multitude of diverse experiences under a shared umbrella term. Overall, even the simple fact that the word "asexual" was repeatedly used and shown in such a positive and affirming manner is massive and essentially breaking new ground for asexual/ace representation in media. It's truly a remarkable and special moment and I strongly urge everyone to watch it.
Image Source: Screencap from BoJack Horseman Season 4
Michael Paramo is an asexual Latinx demiguy located in southern California. They are currently a graduate student who has been selected to present their research at national conferences, such as by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music's U.S. branch, the Popular Culture Association, as well as the National Women's Studies Association. They are the founder of The Asexual and the Editor-in-Chief of The Asexual journal. Twitter: @Michael_Paramo