Todd, like most ace characters, is shown to be uncomfortable in sexual situations. This is first shown when his high school girlfriend wants to have sex with him and he tries to avoid it.
Later, Todd begins to realize his asexuality as he says,“I think I might be nothing.”
The show itself takes an important step in ace representation by naming, by actually labeling his asexuality. “I’m asexual… I’m an asexual,” he says.
His coming out scene is certainly emotional as he finally accepts himself.
This explicit representation reveals that there is such a thing as asexuality. It finally normalizes it. In one article, Grant writes, “Many [fans] are saying it’s the first time they’ve ever seen themselves represented anywhere in popular culture.”
After coming out, Todd’s asexuality is NOT the tokenism often seen with queer representation on media. It is explored within his own relationships. Todd goes to an asexuals meetup on one point, where he says, “I know it’s wild for an asexual to get married…”
Bojack Horseman further educates about asexuality as a couple mentions that they are aces and married. “Asexual just means you’re not interested in sex,” the couple shares. “Some asexuals are also aromantic, but others have relationships just like anyone else.”
Todd eventually pursues a relationship with another ace character, Yolanda. Yolanda’s asexuality is also explored, but in a more comedic nature. Her entire family is obsessed with sex – her father a erotic novelist, mother a porn actress, and sister a sex advice columnist – and one can’t help but view it as a metaphor for our “sexusociety.”
Bojack Horseman, in this case, grapples with the question, “How does it feel to have no interest in what society deems a ‘normal human impulse’ like sex, when everyone and everything around you seems to be erotically charged?” (Cuby).
Or I ask, how does an ace person fit in a society that consistently alienates them and their desire (or lack of it)?
Many animated shows, particularly those targeted to kids have made strides in queer representation (Dean). Just look at Insider’s database of LGBT characters in kids shows. What is terribly difficult about asexuality (the education of it, at least), is the fact that we cannot normalize it at such a young age.
Though we exist in such a sex-obsessed society – one that makes us invisible – sex is simply a taboo subject for children. Bojack Horseman is one show still trying to normalize it.
As argued in her own scholarship about the show, Sinwell says, “One must not create positive representations, but also… consist of complex, multifaceted, layered characters.” Todd fits this criterion. While we are not at a stage where we can openly discuss asexuality with younger generations, animated shows like Bojack Horseman are still trying to fulfill the representation lacking in mainstream media.
Yolanda (portrayed as an asexual animal) and Todd ultimately break up, because they realize they were pushed together only because of their asexuality.
Grant says, “Finding love isn’t as simple as just finding someone who shares your identity.” Todd reassures Yolanda that there will be someone out there who loves her and her ace identity. But she asks a too true question, “What if there isn’t?”
Bojack tackles acceptance and explanation of asexuality, but also makes visible the struggles as well. Sinwell, in her paper, praises the complexity of the show’s ace representation. She writes, “Todd’s character represents his asexuality as almost prototypically normal.”
It is not something to be ashamed of, a “broken” part so often seen in asexuality. Consequently, I believe that this one of the best, if not the only, good representation of an asexual character.
Cuby, Michael. “Why I Find BoJack Horseman’s Depiction of Asexuality Deeply Relatable.” Them., https://www.them.us/story/bojack-horseman-asexuality. Accessed 18 June 2021.
Grant, David. “Todd from ‘Bojack Horseman’ Comes out as Asexual.” Queerty, https://www.queerty.com/todd-bojack-horseman-comes-asexual-20170911. Accessed 18 June 2021.
Asexuality in “BoJack Horseman,” Text Only. https://www.ejumpcut.org/currentissue/Sinwell-BoJackHorseman/text.html. Accessed 13 July 2021.
Thomas, Sophie Saint. “Aaron Paul Says BoJack Horseman Helped Fans Come Out As Asexual.” Allure, https://www.allure.com/story/aaron-paul-bojack-horseman-asexuality. Accessed 18 June 2021.