Disclaimer: There are still other shows with asexual characters. I decided to name a few here, but this does not make up the entire list.
There are still other TV shows who have tried to explore a character’s asexuality. While I only go in-depth about two shows (granted, they are the only ones who have a storyline surrounding their asexuality), there are still a few asexual characters mentioned in mainstream media. Some of them do not explicitly say that they are asexual, and it is only confirmed by the creator outside of the show.
This show revolves around sex. It follows Eric as he tackles high school with his sex guru mom. Sex Education perhaps heightens and brings forth this notion of sexusociety. However, one scene – popular for those looking at some starved ace content – tells us, “Wait, there’s such a thing as not wanting to have sex!”
Though it is only one scene, it creates visibility for those insecure asexual teens. It brings awareness to a topic I wouldn’t assume to see in a show about sex, and I am glad for it.
One aspect of asexual representation that is not really explored, is asexuality in fantasy/sci-fi shows. Raphael Santiago, from Shadowhunters, puts a crack in this glass ceiling.
The show is careful not to fault his asexuality on his vampirism. Santiago remarks, “I’m just not interested in sex.” His love interest at the time, Isabelle Lightwood asks, “Being a vampire made you this way?”
Santiago reaffirms, “No, I’ve always been like this.” It is important that his asexuality is not a byproduct of his “inhumanity,” for it normalizes and humanizes his sexual orientation.
I also think it’s important to note how Santiago is not a white man. Along with this, there is a diverse asexual character. While it is one scene, and doesn’t explicitly mention his asexuality, it is still visibility.
That being said, however, Santiago’s aromantic identity is erased. Since Shadowhunters is based off the popular YA books, The Mortal Instruments, there is more lore and plot surrounding the characters.
Author Cassandra Clare wrote, “’I’m not gay,’ said Raphael. ‘I’m not straight. I’m not interested.’ ‘Your sexuality is ‘not interested’?’ Alec asked curiously. Raphael said, ‘That’s right.’ (Red Scrolls of Magic).
Even in the books, his asexuality is mentioned. “I am so happy to have representation!!!” One fan, Emma Sanders, exclaimed.
But he is aromantic, and the show still erased that. If asexual representation is scarce, there is essentially nothing for aromantic identities.
“It’s a shame that they didn’t keep him aromantic,” one audience member observed (M). I am sure that the creators did this so they could instigate a relationship between Santiago and Lightwood. If removing sex is alienating to people, romance is even worse.
But hopefully we can recognize that there is more to relationships than romantic and sexual intimacy, and begin to appreciate platonic relationships for what they are: beautiful.
Peridot is a confirmed asexual character. Though it was revealed after the show had ended, I believe it is still important to mention. As I talk about with Bojack Horseman, it is still hard to normalize asexuality in kids animated shows. She is the only asexual character in kids animated shows, with a valid reason.
How do we teach asexuality when kids have no conception of what sex is?
Game of Thrones
Lord Varys from Game of Thrones is canonically asexual. While many fans believe it is because of his castration, he reassures that his “absence of desire” was before that.
He tells one of the other characters that he had no interest in boys or girls, and that he was simply interested in “nothing.” He affirms that he is glad to have no part in such desire.
Sirens is actually one to explicitly label asexuality in the show. One of the main characters, Voodoo, reveals that she is asexual.
Marks goes more into detail about this representation:
“On the show, Voo is depicted as having an intense scientific curiosity, almost giddiness about extremely dark, morbid and disgusting things. Her nickname, Voodoo, comes from her interest in the occult. In one episode, Brian gives her a severed human finger as a way of asking her out, which she accepts with delight (The Finger). The other EMT’s often remark on this, and call her different, “not like other humans,” and, “Darth Vader with tits dark (The Finger).” They joke that if Brian were going to date her, he’d probably end up dismembered or tied up in a dungeon (The Finger). By itself, this aspect of Voo could be seen as a refreshing, feminist take on womanhood; however, when combined with her asexuality, a troubling implication arises, that it’s her asexuality that causes her to be less than human.”(Marks 23).
It is refreshing to see a sitcom have an asexual character (particularly one that is explicitly labeled), but to dehumanize her, and the romantic relationships she might be able to have, is just cruel.
In this case, this show reveals that representation is neither good nor bad. It can easily be both and to separate it into these dichotomies simply neglect that like all of us, it is complex and nuanced.
Marks, Benjamin. “Sick, Dead, or Lying:” A Critical Textual Analysis of Asexuality in Popular Culture.