Sheldon Cooper is an interesting case. Thousands of people identify him as asexual or aromantic, and there is an abundance of evidence. In the beginning of the series, he is sex-repulsed and touch-adverse.
At one point, he says, “I find the concept of coitus to be ridiculous and off-pointing.” The fact that he does not like the idea of sex, or nor really understand the appeal of it, definitely fits one of the many definitions of sexuality. Another scene, shown below, enforces his possible asexuality:
As evidenced here, the characters believe that he has “no deal.” While you can easily read him as not meeting the “right person,” it is something that is very acephobic.
His sexuality is confronted when he meets his main love interest, Amy Farrah Fowler. At first, their relationship is merely friendship. Sheldon refers to her as a “friend” rather than a girlfriend.
Eventually, though, the relationship becomes romantic. Sheldon overcomes some of his touch aversion to kiss and hold her hand, and he is comfortable with some physical contact.
Amy wants more. She asks him, “Will we ever be intimate with one another?” Cooper appears uncomfortable at the question. He tells her that their relationship is already intimate for him.
We can see that Sheldon’s asexuality causes tension within the relationship. He answers her question, “Before I met you, I had no interest in being intimate with anyone” (“The Love Spell Potential”).
This can be read two different ways. The first, more positive one, is that Sheldon Cooper could be demisexual. After becoming closer and forming an emotional bond with Amy, he could develop sexual attraction for her.
The second one, however, is best described by writer Chloe Osmond. She writes, “After his “before I met you” confession, she asks him “And now?” as if expecting that by meeting her, his asexual identity has magically changed.”
This idea seems too much like conversion. That after meeting the right person, your asexuality magically goes away. However, that is an extremely outdated norm, for many queer identities.
What bothers me, though, is the potential The Big Bang Theory had for such asexual representation. Sheldon Cooper’s asexuality could’ve been thoroughly explored, and his relationship with Amy could have explored queerplatonic relationships.
The Big Bang Theory, however, consistently mocks Sheldon’s asexuality. Like many ace-coded characters, their sexuality is used to dehumanize the characters. For example, Leonard says, that only when he has sex, Sheldon will become a “red-blooded man.”
The other characters also pressure Sheldon and Amy to have sex.
Even Amy is uncomfortable with this preposition. She later reflects, “They think our relationship is a joke”
The Big Bang Theory illustrates the underlying perceptions people have about asexuality. It tells us, quite wrongly, that asexuality is something to be “fixed” by meeting the right person. Like Jughead Jones, Cooper’s asexuality is erased. This is sad, considering the millions of fans who are fully convinced by this label.
For a more in-depth analysis, please consider watching Chloe Jean’s video essay about The Big Bang Theory‘s asexual erasure.
“How The Big Bang Theory’s Spinoff Fails Asexual Community.” The Mary Sue, 20 Mar. 2017, https://www.themarysue.com/big-bang-theory-and-asexuality/.