The Representation Of Asexuality On Mainstream Media And Entertainment

Asexuality, Hollywood, netflix, riverdale, brojack horseman, cole sprouse
(c) Geek Media

What mainstream media and entertainment is has definitely changed over the years, and I’m not just speaking in terms of how we’re watching, but also what we’re watching.  We now have access to content that is more inclusive and diverse. We are privy to stories that are original, heartbreaking, and more real than most people’s Instagram accounts. Filmmakers, directors, producers, and screenwriters have recognized the demand for content that is more universal and which gives a fairer representation.  As far as Hollywood is concerned, a heteronormative Caucasian cast can no longer be the only norm, and this is evident with the success of shows such as Queer Eye with the Fab 5 who have literally won hearts everywhere, Marie Kondo and her quest to ‘Spark Joy’ in people’s lives, and blockbuster hits such as ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Crazy Rich Asians’, which have casts that were primarily not Caucasian. It’s an exciting time for fairer representation in the entertainment industry, and while there’s still a long way to go, at least some headway is being made. However, in all this frenzy to give due representation to almost everyone, a large community has been left out, and that’s the Asexual community.

The Asexual community represents about 1% of the world population and is a community which is severely lacking in representation, whether in real life or on-screen.  Little knowledge is known and few conversations are had about it. It would appear that while mainstream entertainment is becoming more accepting of different sexual experiences, lack of want for sexual experiences is still something that people need to wrap their heads around. For example, since 2017, while Netflix has released several series, movies, and documentaries that create spaces for representation of the LGBTQ community, the Asexual community, struggles with representation.

Asexuality, Hollywood, Netflix, Riverdale, Brojack horseman, cole sprouse
Illustration by Damehi Laloo

Three years ago when the Netflix series Riverdale first aired, there were speculations and discussions around the sexual orientation of the character Jughead Jones, played by the actor Cole Sprouse. Anyone familiar with the comic books of Archie Andrews And The Gang would not consider it amiss for Jughead to identify as Asexual, considering that the comic narrative continuously emphasized that the teenage boy only cared for food and not girls (or boys), unlike his friend Archie Andrews. The show too did not miss a beat to hint at the potential of making the character identify as Asexual. There was hope and there was anticipation.

But alas, in the first season itself, we had Jughead and Betty Cooper share a kiss. There was still hope though. Experimenting is not against the norm, and there were some who held on to the hope that the narrative was only taking us on a journey of Jughead’s self exploration. Three seasons in, and it does not look like Jughead will be exploring other sexual identities anytime soon, other than the one he is currently in. The last thing the scriptwriters of the Riverdale are known for is sticking to the storyline of the comic script, and it’s a real shame the asexual identity of Jughead Jones was never explored.

I admit that I watch a fair amount of TV (Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc) and Bojack Horseman seems to be the only show that has an openly asexual character. I’ve heard that there’s an asexual character in Game of Thrones too, but I haven’t watched the show (shocker!) so I’ll refrain.

Todd in Bojack Horseman always identified as ‘nothing’ until season 3 of the show where he identified himself as an Asexual. Todd’s journey is a breath of fresh air in that it’s not in your face. That he is asexual is only an accentuation.

Asexuality, hollywood, netflix, riverdale, brohack horseman, cole sprouse
(c) T2 Online

You do not even think of it until he actually says it himself, and then you’re like, “Duh! Of course! That makes sense” (or was that just me?).

Either way, in the earlier seasons, we do get a glimpse of Todd fumbling around with his identity, and by season 5 the character has not only explored his identity and been involved in an asexual relationship, but also joined a support group for Asexuals. With Bojack Horseman being renewed for anotherseason, it’ll be interesting to see if there will be more character development and representation for the Asexual community.

I asked a few Reddit users what they thought of the representation of Asexuals in mainstream media and entertainment, and that there could always be more representation, especially positive representation, was the consensus.

There is a need to give the community its due representation and make it known that being ace is another identity on the spectrum. There’s very little knowledge on asexuality, in general, and as one Reddit user stated,  “…the primary issues that asexuals face is that we are invisible.” Thus, while we’re on our parade for fairer representation, let’s strive to not leave an entire community out of it.

Note:  This is Part 1 of Camilla Ann Lyndem’s exploration on the subject of sexuality. 

Author: Camilla Lyndem

Camilla Ann Lyndem is a Staff Writer. Based in Bengaluru, she is a graduate of St.Stephen’s College, Delhi, where she completed her Undergraduate and Postgraduate degree in English Literature.Although a hardcore liberal arts student, she enjoys coding and has worked on building smart models, including a smart irrigation system (take that, CS students).

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