Hey guys! Today I’m coming at you with a tv discussion that I really meant to write some time last year but kind of forgot about, so sorry about that! But, I have a lot to talk about and many feelings to rant about, so hopefully, the power of my rage will make up for the delay??? Also, this might be a bit of a controversial topic so don’t hate me but today I’m delving into whether we should forgive tv shows for inappropriate/insulting content or dialogue & how we, as a society react to sexuality erasure in media.
And today I’m specifically focusing on Brooklyn Nine-Nine & Riverdale, which I know are two very popular tv shows with very intense fans!
*All sources will be linked
Hi, I’m Ellyn, I’m 18 and asexual and I guess this is me coming out??? Cool, okay… yeah okay. So this is happening…
If you read my intro you already know what I’m talking about today but basically, I’m spilling some tea and letting my Ace rage out and discussing whether we should forgive shows for harmful content and/or erasing characters’ sexualities. It’s a big topic to tackle but hopefully, I’ll do it some kind of justice.
So… let’s start with the big Kahuna – Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Like so many others I’ve been a fan of Brooklyn NIne-Nine for a long time and I have praised it for years. But, sometime last year I decided to re-watch the show and I stumbled across a few things that really rubbed me the wrong way. The first time I watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine I was still basking in the fun style of humour and I also hadn’t yet realised I was Asexual so whenever the word was used in the show it didn’t really register with me. So imagine my surprise when I started my rewatch of the show and in the very beginning of the show, a show that mind you, is supposed to be forward-thinking and un-problematic, the main characters use the word asexual as an insult.
“Oh, and I’m sorry if we implied you’re both asexual nerds who can only be friends with service animals.” (2×18)
^^This is a line from Gina in season 2, episode 18
Basically, Gina uses Asexual as an insult, and I’ll be honest I’ve never seen her character the same way again. (I think it’s used as an insult again at some point but I’m not completely sure).
And, the last thing I want to talk about, concerning B99 is the fat shaming. I feel like this is a very common thing with tv, especially with shows with this kind of humour – for example, Parks and Recreation is a great show but fat-shaming is a big part of how one main character is treated.
So, Brooklyn Nine-Nine uses fat shaming all the time (Let’s be honest we would all view Hitchcock and Scully different if they had less body fat) but, in 1×04 an entire episode is dedicated to fat-shaming. It’s pretty much just one big joke directed at “bigger” or plus size people. You can read more about it here.
Annnndd now we’re going to dive into sexuality erasure, specifically talking about Riverdale and the erasure of Jughead’s sexuality.
I’ll be honest I have yet to read and finish a Riverdale/Archie/Jughead comic and I haven’t seen any of the tv show (though I do intend to watch Sabrina eventually). Basically, Jughead is canonically asexual in the comics but when the CW decided to create the show “Riverdale” they opted not to keep him as an Ace character.
When the show first came out the show writer (Lundin) came out and said that Jughead is “not explicitly anything right now” because they were avoiding how queerbaity the show was and now I think the show is 3 seasons in and Jughead and Betty have had sex. So, it’s definitely asexuality erasure and there’s no question about it and from what I can tell, this is a trend in media – characters having aspects of their personality/character erased. For example, we have Hawkeye not being deaf in the MCU, something I will never get over.
So should we forgive tv shows and media for sexuality erasure or using out sexualities as a punch line or should companies and producers/writers learn to see their full audience? Should producers/cast or writers be made to apologise for their actions and explain themselves or should they be allowed to “get away with it”?