Asexual Representation: Abbi Singh from The Imperfects
Yet another sad casualty in Netflix's tirade of single-season cancellations, The Imperfects gives us rare and much needed representation in the character of Abbi Singh. She is an Ace, Lesbian, WOC in STEM and not enough people know about her!
Courtney: Hi everyone. Welcome back to another episode of The Ace Couple Podcast. My name is Courtney, and I’m here with my spouse, Royce. And today, we are going to talk about a show that we rather enjoyed, despite nobody really talking about the show itself nor the, in our opinion, pretty solid Ace rep in it. So we’re here to talk about The Imperfects.
Royce: A self-promoted “coming-of-rage story.”
Courtney: “Coming-of-rage”! [laughs] Which is interesting – yes, there was quite a bit of rage. I like the play on words. The characters did skew just a little bit older than the average coming-of-age story, because they were all adults, just very young adults.
Royce: Yeah, that’s right. We’ve gotten out of the high school demographic for once.
Courtney: Which I’m thrilled about, honestly.
Royce: It’s really oversaturated.
Courtney: It’s really oversaturated! And just not for us, [laughs] nine times out of ten. Not for us ten times, out of ten? I don’t know, I’m trying to think. Has there ever been a high-school-aged Ace rep show that we’ve particularly liked?
Royce: I don’t think that having under-18 characters is necessarily, like, a fatal flaw. I mean, this is –
Courtney: It’s just the way they’re used, usually.
Royce: This is getting out of live action, but we both liked The Owl House, even though there was no Ace rep in it. Like –
Courtney: That’s true.
Royce: The characters were interesting. You can have interesting high-school-aged characters. I think that the high school sex-drama-comedy is just overplayed.
Courtney: Yes, absolutely. So, we watched this on Netflix. And probably right off the bat, we should say for anyone who hasn’t seen this, there’s a single season of it, and it got canceled. Which is… [sighs] typical.
Royce: The running theme of the last couple of years.
Courtney: Well, it’s awful. It really is. Because Netflix has been doing this very weird thing where they will not advertise a lot of their new original series, and then they’ll just cancel it after a single season. And honestly, like, we didn’t watch this until it had already been canceled, and we liked it. We thought there was a lot of potential.
Royce: There have been a lot of shows, I feel like, that have gotten canceled that have had a cult following, either while they’re running, before they were canceled, or immediately after they were canceled. Which kind of reminds me of, going back – how long has it been, a couple dozen years? – to when Fox was canceling all these successful shows, like Firefly and –
Royce: – long string of things that got a lot of fan praise.
Courtney: Yeah. I honestly have never watched Firefly. I know so many people have tried to take my nerd cred away because I haven’t. [laughs] But I’ve actually read a couple of hot take theories that it wouldn’t have gotten as big of a cult following as it did if it didn’t get canceled. ’Cause there are some people who think that the intrigue and the potential for what could have come was more impressive than what would have actually been delivered.
Royce: It’s been a long time since I’ve watched it, but I could definitely see that being a series that got run to death.
Royce: I feel like there’s probably already a fair amount of fluff to it.
Royce: And had it been more successful, I could see them just…
Courtney: Running with it.
Royce: …running with it for way too long.
Courtney: For no reason except they want more money. But yeah. So the thing is, Netflix, in my eyes, was always… The biggest potential for Netflix was to be able to have a home for series that maybe were a little more niche, maybe weren’t marketable to your cable televisions. And lately, they’ve just – I mean, streaming wars and all that, sure, sure, fine. But they are canceling so many things after a single season. So many! And honestly, most of them I’ve never even heard of until there’s a big article that comes out being like, “Netflix canceled this show after a single season!” And it’s like, okay, I’ve literally never heard of that show. [laughs] Maybe if there was marketing for it!
Courtney: But the thing is, I didn’t see any marketing for The Imperfects, despite there being a canon Ace character – an Asexual woman, an Indian American woman, South Asian descent woman in STEM, Ace in STEM – like, we don’t have characters like that! She is such a needed character for representation. And I didn’t even hear about this from our own community, hardly. And normally, if there’s even a whisper of there being an Ace character in a headcanon somewhere, normally the fandom is talking about it all over the place and overexaggerating how definitive the rep is.
Royce: I feel like we heard it get brought up a couple of times. And I feel like sometimes it was with a caveat, and I can’t remember why. But I went into it expecting that this show might not be very good, and we liked it more than we both expected.
Courtney: Yeah! Which is very, very weird. But the thing is, compare the marketing and the advertising and the hype of a show like this – which is pretty much non-existent – to, like, the Wednesday series that just came out on Netflix, where there was advertising everywhere for months leading up to it. And there was the queerbaiting marketing of hosting WednesGay drag events, despite no tangible, like, really meaningful queer rep on screen. There were two gay moms on screen for, like, 40 seconds tops, and yet they used the queer community to drum up a lot of hype. They hired alumni drag queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race to be talking about how excited they were about Wednesday and how Wednesday is a queer icon. And, like, I don’t blame them. They’re getting paid; they’re getting their money. But where was the advertising of the queer rep in a small new IP like this? It’s baffling to me.
Royce: Yeah, ’cause for all the discussion around Wednesday, we and a number of other people have mentioned how AroAce coded Wednesday is.
Courtney: Or at least started.
Royce: Started. At least started. Half of the first episode or so, plus historical Addams Family.
Royce: Then there’s the fandom that is really wanting Wednesday to be gay.
Royce: And in The Imperfects, we have an Ace character who mentions on screen that they’re Ace in the first episode, who goes on to start navigating a potential relationship with another woman.
Royce: Do they actually date?
Courtney: Y- okay, we need to get into the show, because yes, they do.
Royce: I couldn’t remember because, like, this is a 10-episode series, and a lot of shit was going down in the middle of all of this.
Courtney: I thought it was heavily implied in the last episode that they were now living together.
Royce: That could just be my memory.
Royce: It’s been a little bit.
Courtney: So, yeah. For everybody who’s also like, “Well, Wednesday is AroAce but also, also a lesbian” – which is possible; that is a thing that I think – a lot of real world people have that identity. I don’t know if a show that is trying to have as much mass appeal as Wednesday does would ever actually canonize that. And you can have your headcanons; that is fine. But for everyone being like, “Wednesday is the perfect lesbian AroAce representation,” and it’s like, why are we ignoring Abbi Singh from The Imperfects, who is actually – I mean, maybe – a homoromantic Ace. We don’t know, because we only see her explore a relationship with a woman.
Courtney: So let’s start with the plot, because it is a bit of a goofy concept. It is sci-fi. And the three main characters are Abbi, Tilda, and Juan. And it turns out they, as young adults, have started developing kind of like superpowers, sort of like mutant abilities. And they learn that this was probably a result of medical experimentation that was done on them as children, because they had some kind of genetic disorder that was diagnosed. I don’t remember the word they were using for this fictitious condition.
Royce: I don’t remember if they explicitly explained it. But they were all brought together because they had some sort of diagnosable symptom – different symptoms for each of them. And that’s how they were brought into this sort of clandestine lab operation where they were undergoing experimental treatments to modify their genetics.
Courtney: Under the treatment of Alex Sarkov – who is, I think, my favorite villain I have seen in a very long time. Right after the first episode, I was like, “Thank God. It has been so long since we have had a flamboyant gay new villain.” [laughs] And I love him. You actually did not believe me that he was definitively gay, but I was like, “That is very much a gay-coded character.”
Royce: I saw him primarily as neurodivergent when we started the series, and it wasn’t until you called it out that I was like, “Oh, okay. I see.”
Courtney: Which is funny! [laughs]
Royce: But –
Courtney: You’re like, “Oh no, he’s not gay. He’s just neurodivergent.” Like, uhh, he’s probably both. [laughs]
Royce: Yeah, I think I had said that I didn’t see the cues as readily as you did. But Alex Sarkov is played by Rhys Nicholson, who is an Australian comedian.
Courtney: Yes, and very well-known gay man, because he has also been, you know, a judge on the Australian branch of RuPaul’s Drag Race. So, he’s very… very in with the popular public gay TV scene.
Royce: But onscreen is very… I think why he works so well as a villain – was very just energetic and talkative.
Courtney: He is sassy. He is funny. He’s got this bright red hair. He’s got just wonderfully exaggerated facial expressions. He is the perfect villain, in my book. He is… I love him. And there are so many people who are like, “Oh, why are all the villains queer-coded?” It’s like, I don’t care. I love a good queer-coded villain. I love a queer-coded villain!
Courtney: So based on the sort of superhuman powers that these three develop, they sort of assign themselves to the closest proximity of mythical creatures. Like, Abbi, as the Ace character, oddly enough, they start calling her a succubus because she starts emitting these pheromones that make just anybody and everyone totally fall head-over-heels obsessed with her – to the point where she could, if she was comfortable using her powers or needed to use her powers, just utterly manipulate people and make them do whatever she wanted. So they start calling her a succubus.
Courtney: Tilda is a musician. She’s in a band. And she starts getting this superhuman hearing, just can hear anything and everything, but also can sort of – I don’t know, what would you call it, a screech? When she sings, it’s amplified and can break glass and things.
Royce: It’s written here as “sonic screaming.”
Courtney: Sonic screaming. There we go. So she is a banshee. And then we have Juan, who “wolfs out.” [laughs] No, he doesn’t. This is not Wednesday. We liked this better than Wednesday. [laughs] He just becomes a creature with teeth and claws and violence, and they call him a chupacabra.
Courtney: And the thing is, we get – as you said, Royce – from the very first episode, we know that Abbi is Ace because she comes right out and says, “I’m Ace.” And I think it’s interesting to explore it from the perspective of, “Oh, she’s got these pheromones that make people fall in love with her, but she doesn’t want it. She doesn’t like that attention.” [laughs knowingly] Because that’s kind of relatable, honestly, [laughs] for I think a lot of Aces who have been pursued in a way that they haven’t been wishing to reciprocate.
Courtney: But we sort of see the three of them talking after they go to see Sarkov and just sort of say, like, “Hey, what the hell? What’s going on? Fix us now.” The three of them are just having a conversation, and…
Royce: Yeah, this all starts because the prescription that they’ve all been on for a long time that they thought was to treat whatever their underlying condition was all simultaneously runs out, and then they all start manifesting these powers all of a sudden.
Courtney: Yes. And turns out that was probably done intentionally. But they’re sitting and they’re talking and they’re kind of… This was when they first assigned the labels of, like, “Oh, you’re a banshee,” “You’re a chupacabra.” Because they were just talking about, like, “What’s been happening to you?” And when Abbi explained her powers… How did that conversation go? Did someone actually think, like, “Oh, well, that’s not bad” or “That’s pretty cool”?
Royce: Something like that. I think Tilda did.
Courtney: Because it prompted her to say like, “Well, it’s really complicated if you’re Ace. And I’m Ace.” And so then we’re like, “All right. We have that right from episode 1.” And what I like about that is there’s no gray area. And now, her orientation doesn’t need to be a massive plot point in the show, because we just know that this is a characteristic about her. And it does come up later, so it’s not as if they just say that and then drop it and it isn’t used as an important part of her character. It’s just, this is a sci-fi mutant superpower kind of a show, so I don’t think someone’s orientation or relationship should be the sole focus, because there is a lot more going on – which I personally think is more interesting than any “coming to terms with your sexuality” plot would probably be.
Courtney: So unfortunately, Sarkov kind of disappears after the first episode for a while. Unfortunately, because I love him! He is great. [laughs] He is the perfect villain! I wish I could properly explain what watching the show feels like. Because there were some people who are saying that they just didn’t like it. They couldn’t watch it. There were some people saying it was bad. I don’t think it was bad. I think it was good. But there were a couple of moments where I thought, “This is kind of just, like, first season of a show growing pains.” Like, very forgivable little hiccups or slight pacing issues that weren’t present a hundred percent of the time.
Royce: There is something I remember saying an episode or two in that was something like, “I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something about, I don’t know, the directing or the cinematography or the audio or the dialogue – something is just a little off, and it’s what would change this from being a good show to a great show.”
Courtney: Yes. But the potential for it to be a great show was there. It absolutely was. And I feel like maybe if they were allowed to go more than a season, they would have sort of hit their stride and come into their own, and I would have been really curious to see how that would have developed. Because famously, the first time we saw the first season of BoJack Horseman, we hated it! We weren’t even sure we wanted to continue watching it after the first few episodes. And I didn’t hate this as much as I hated the first time we watched the first few episodes of that. And I’ve heard lots of showrunners sort of say that, like, their first season, they were trying to find their feet. But for all the moments that were maybe just slightly off and could have been done a little better, I thought there were plenty of other moments that were just incredibly charming and funny. And so I still very much did think it was worth it. And I think they should have been given more than a season.
Courtney: So, once they confront this doctor and he up and disappears on them, they try to go on a mission to find him so that they can get the cure and stop having all of these very inconvenient powers. And so that sort of leads them to team up with another research scientist named Sydney Burke, who has worked extensively with Alex Sarkov in the past, but she is also trying to find him. And we learn pretty early on that she also was diagnosed with whatever this change in DNA is that all these kids have. So we sort of get the inkling right away that she also has a personal stake in finding the treatment, without really knowing right off the bat what that means for her and how it’s affected her life.
Courtney: But since this medication that’s kept everybody’s powers under control (that they didn’t know that they would develop without) has just mysteriously run dry for everybody, there are more than just our core three who are starting to pop up with these powers, or some different variation of these powers. So they run into some of them. And then some they’re actually trying to intentionally seek out, because some they had met as kids at the same clinic and haven’t necessarily kept in touch, but they know each other’s names, and they’re kind of looking for each other now.
Courtney: And one of these former patients is Hannah, who has not developed powers, but they do learn that her body had rejected the treatment early on, so she hasn’t been on the treatment. And is it heavily implied or is it outright stated that she is probably dying or will die young because of it? And so she – for the most part, she’s just trying to live her best life. She owns a small coffee shop right now. And at first, she’s a little bit reluctant to talk to anybody or join in on this.
Courtney: But there are just like – there’s a moment or two where she’s standing next to Abbi having conversations, and she’s like, “Are you using your pheromones on me?” [laughing] And Abbi’s like, “No, of course not!” And Tilda or someone else who’s just around is like, “Anything you’re feeling is all you.” So we get those little inclinations of her maybe having a crush before they actually start exploring a relationship.
Courtney: And yeah, I don’t even know. This show was so weird. I don’t [laughs] even know how to describe some of the plot. The sort of treatment they all received was based around the idea of synthetic stem cells, for one. But there’s sort of a… like, an organization that tracks down rogue scientists and their failed experiments. And so that’s what the name “the Imperfects” comes from, because it’s the humans who were experimented on incredibly unethically that did not go according to plan. And in some cases, it results in Alex Sarkov actually trying to hunt down and capture and or kill his quote “imperfect experiments,” because they do become very dangerous to themselves and others.
Courtney: But I just – I don’t know. There was definitely a theme of ethics in science, which I think is a very interesting plot point. But just the, like, people who are so over scientists in this show. Just the number of comments that were like, “Ugh, I hate scientists.” [laughs] I liked it. It was silly.
Royce: The central plotline running through the bulk of the series is our main cast of characters trying to figure out how to cure these new troublesome abilities that they have, which in part involves tracking down Alex Sarkov and also dealing with rogue bands of scientists and the secret organization that has taken to hunting them down.
Courtney: Yes. But one thing I also like about the show is all of the sort of more personal side plots for each of the main characters. All explore different types of relationships and how they’re important to that person. Because the only one who really, like, from the get-go has, like, a romantic relationship is Tilda. And there are reasons why that’s strained: they’re in the same band together, and they’re butting heads about band direction, especially when she starts developing her powers and she can’t sing safely right now.
Royce: Or be around music that’s that loud.
Royce: She can’t be in or around the band.
Courtney: So there’s that complication for, you know, a woman who is essentially developing some kind of… I guess you could look at it from a disability lens, because it takes her a long time to be able to cope with her hearing. And they show her with – like, walking around with noise-canceling headphones and even still struggling with just hearing way too much, which I thought was interesting. ’Cause even though I don’t necessarily think she as a character was explicitly Autistic-coded or neurodivergent-coded, I think just the onscreen representation of someone just always wearing noise-canceling headphones in public and getting overstimulated and struggling with noise was really interesting and kind of refreshing, because you just don’t see that on screen very much. So you sort of have, like, a relationship – a boyfriend and a girlfriend – but someone got sick, or someone developed a disability, someone is now… they do not have the same sets of abilities as they once did. And you start to see the strain that puts on the relationship when the partner doesn’t necessarily understand it. So that’s an interesting relationship dynamic. And is kind of the only, I guess, cishet relationship that we see explored throughout the show. Because Juan’s main relationship navigation is his brother and his niece.
Royce: Right. Juan’s is family-related. Abbi’s is a mix, because she’s essentially estranged from her family because she’s afraid to physically be around them in case her pheromones affected them, because she definitely does not want to see her parents attracted to her.
Courtney: Yep, that makes sense. [laughs]
Royce: And, part of her plot line as a scientist is also trying to work with the other scientists to find a cure. But on top of that, there is the relationship with Hannah.
Courtney: Correct. Yes. Which – that starts developing a little bit later. She is… I guess she’s a student. She’s trying to transfer to Oxford, I believe, at the beginning. But her interview doesn’t go as planned because the interviewers become attracted to her, and that results in her just running away in a panic. [laughs]
Royce: That’s a running joke, I think, for the first few episodes, is some big potentially life-threatening thing is about to happen, and then she gets a phone call from Oxford.
Courtney: Yes. [laughs] Yeah, so she does have, you know, some scientific research and education under her belt, so she does sort of stand in as, like, a lab assistant with Sydney Burke as they’re trying to figure things out. Which I really like, because she also, as the Ace in STEM, has sort of the most hands-on job of the main three to – trying to help their situation, and the other two take more of a support role. Like, Tilda can hear if someone is approaching or if something’s happening and she can eavesdrop on people, but a lot of the time, Tilda and Juan – it’s like, “Oh, distract this person who’s annoying us. Like, get them out of the lab.” And they’re like, “Okay, boss!” [laughs]
Courtney: But, yeah, back to the relationships that are being navigated, we do have the familial aspect with Juan and his brother and his brother’s daughter. And then we actually start seeing a bit of the relationship between Sydney Burke and Alex Sarkov. Because we know from episode 1 that their research overlaps, and we start to get a bigger picture, later on, of just how closely they had worked together or known each other.
Royce: Which, we haven’t mentioned a lot about Alex Sarkov, aside from just being…
Courtney: The best villain I’ve seen in a long time!
Royce: Mad scientist character. But he was a child prodigy who was teaching in college, I think, when he was still single-digit years old, potentially. If not, very close to it.
Courtney: He, like – he was, like, teaching at Oxford when he was 12. [laughs]
Royce: Yeah. And so he lived a very isolated life because of that.
Courtney: Yes. And like, when he and Sydney do end up talking to each other, it’s very strained, because they’re clearly, like, on different sides of whatever their goals are right now, but they do sort of have this bond where it’s like, “We have been through so much in the past. You are my best friend. You are practically family.”
Royce: “You also kind of sucks sometimes, but…”
Courtney: [laughs] Well, and there are also these, like, things that we don’t get the full picture of, but it’s, like, almost heavily implied that Sydney helped him pass, like, a poetry class or something. Like, he’s this brilliant scientific mind, but she’s, like, holding something over his head that has to do with poetry. Like, “I know this thing about you” or “I helped you out this time.” And we don’t get all the details, but I just like seeing her throw those jabs at him.
Royce: It was a threat that was good enough that it worked.
Courtney: Yes. [laughs] Yeah, I want to say it was, like, Intro to Poetry or something. Like, if she ever wanted him to do something or wanted to just threaten him, she’d be like, “Intro to poetry,” and his face will be like, “Oh no!” [laughs] And so I’m like, “What… what… what was Intro to Poetry? What happened? [laughs] What dirt do you have on him?” Their banter back and forth, when they did get together in the same room talking, I thought was great. So we had that relationship.
Courtney: And then I honestly really, really liked the relationship as it developed between Abbi and Hannah. Because first of all, it’s Sapphic. Second of all, it’s Ace. Third of all, it’s two Asian women. It’s a South Asian woman and an East Asian woman. But I thought the way they did, like, the Ace conversation – like, “We are exploring the idea of having a relationship with one another, but I need to tell you that I’m Asexual” – I thought the way they did that scene was so unique and clever. And I think I liked it better than if they actually just showed Abbi talking to Hannah. But they kind of used Tilda’s super-hearing powers and, like, played telephone with it.
Royce: It was off-screen, which meant that we heard the commentary without the writers actually needing to write a perfect dialogue that every –
Courtney: Which was cool!
Royce: – that everyone would like and agree upon. Because I think Tilda was like, “Oh, oh, she’s going for it,” and then pause.
Courtney: “Abbi’s telling her she’s Ace!”
Royce: “And that was the right answer.” Or “That was the right response.”
Courtney: “That was the right response! Good job, Hannah!” [laughs] So, we’re… It’s so cool because it’s also, like, got the like gossipy sidekick friends who are also main characters who have been here, who are, like, trying to eavesdrop on this big moment. Because they know their friend is queer. They know she’s Ace. They’re cool with it. But they’re like, “Oh, let’s see how this works.”
Courtney: And yeah. Because, like you said, they could have very easily messed up that conversation if the camera was on Abbi talking to Hannah coming out as Ace to her in a context that maybe had higher stakes than when she just dropped it in episode 1. Because there’s always the fear that that could be a deal-breaker in a relationship, right? So… it shouldn’t be, but that is a valid fear. They could have messed it up. They could have done it in a way that people didn’t really like or that people – some people might like, others might really not like. They could have made it too cheesy where it would be painful to watch. Or they could have made it way too soapbox-y, way too… like, way more dramatic than it needed to be. And so I thought using Tilda to just be eavesdropping on them from the other room, relaying what’s happening to Juan and giving us the “Yes, Abbi came out as Ace to her and her response was positive”? I kind of think that’s all we need to know. And I liked it. I don’t know. I thought it was really, really creative.
Courtney: So anyway, Hannah gets shot and dies and comes back to life and becomes a possibly unkillable mutant. [laughs]
Royce: Yeah, I mean, you skipped over some things there.
Royce: But it makes sense in the show.
Courtney: Yeah, so at this point, Hannah, Abbi, Juan, and Tilda are all sort of holed up in Dr. Sydney Burke’s house. And this organization that is hunting rogue scientists and their experiments has showed up – like, fully armed: guns, lasers, snipers.
Royce: Blaring Babymetal to cover the sound of the fighting.
Courtney: Oh my gosh. The soundtrack of this show was kind of brilliant. There were a couple of different instances where we were like, “Were they actually using this song? And does it actually work?” Yeah, they were… I mean, at this point, Hannah’s like, “I want no part of this. I am not in the same boat as you three. I just want to go home. I didn’t sign up for having a gun shoved in my face.” But she does end up getting shot by one of these… I don’t know, what was the organization called? There were layers that organization that were unpeeled as the show went on, but.
Royce: These were Flux operatives, right?
Courtney: Flux. yeah. And the agents for this had, like, IDs for every government organization. They were like – they could just pull out an ID that said they were FBI if they wanted to. Like, they were very, very shady. And for a while, it’s like, are they a government organization or are they their own private organization posing as the government?
Courtney: But yeah, Hannah gets shot. They infiltrate the house looking for all of them. And, yeah, all of these agents, like, fully done up like soldiers with guns coming through the house. And this Babymetal song is just blaring. And we’re like, “Babymetal?!” [laughs] I have never heard Babymetal used on a soundtrack for a TV show before, but it’s kind of working for me!
Courtney: But there is… because they’ve already kind of had this conversation, so Abbi is already looking at Hannah as someone who is [affected tone] maybe a little more than a friend [regular tone] and very clearly just cares about her a lot and doesn’t want to also feel guilty – like, “I’m the one who put you in this situation," too; I’m sure that’s an element of it. So they’ve got this, like, serum that had been kind of extracted from one of the other Imperfects that they found, where his trade – he was just, like, practically immortal, had extreme healing, and –
Royce: Yes, he had extreme regenerative properties.
Royce: To the point where they thought he was dead at one point and were trying to operate on him and he came back alive.
Courtney: Horrifying. [laughs] Absolutely horrifying.
Royce: A side effect, too – because most of their powers had side effects –
Royce: – was that he could still feel the pain from every injury that had been inflicted upon him.
Royce: And didn’t they try to dismember him at one point?
Courtney: Yeah. They, like, cut his head off and buried him. And when he came back fully to life, he was like, “I felt all of that.” And it’s like, “Ahh! No!” [laughs] Horrible! Yeah, absolutely awful. But they had some kind of injection that was derived from him and his abilities. So in just, like, a desperate attempt at keeping her alive, they inject her with it.
Courtney: Which, when she does fully come to again, she’s not super wild about it, which I can kind of get, since she had been living her life assuming she was going to die early. There are actually lots of studies to suggest that if someone is given a terminal diagnosis and they have fully understood that and started the process of coming to terms with that, but then they get healed or they no longer become terminal, a lot of those people get really, really depressed. It does not end up being a very positive thing – at least, not in the immediate future. So I think that was probably a pretty accurate response. She wasn’t very happy with coming back to life being injected with this. Now also just not knowing, like, is she completely immortal now or very close to immortal now? So, there was a source of conflict there.
Courtney: I did just remember one thing I really liked about the way Abbi tried to manage her pheromones. They made her sort of a spray. Like, something that she could spray on herself, on her own neck, to try to obscure it. But also, there were definitely a couple of times where someone was pursuing her and has been pheromoned, and she would just, like, squirt them in the face with a squirt bottle. And I was like, “Yes!” [laughs] That is an Ace mood squirt bottle. [laughs]
Royce: Before she was given that spray, wasn’t she just running around with Febreze or something?
Courtney: [laughing] I think so! Just, like, spray Febreze in someone’s face.
Royce: It was usually while entering the room and then also towards people’s eyes –
Royce: – if they got too close.
Courtney: I like the idea of, like, “Oops, someone’s sexually attracted to you and you’re not into that? Spray bottle.” [laughs] Bad kitty. It’s sort of like, “Bonk. Go to horny jail,” but a spray bottle. I don’t know. I liked it. [laughs] I liked that a lot.
Courtney: So Abbi and Hannah have a bit of a rocky phase. They have a bit of a falling out first with that injection that she was unhappy with getting. But Abbi also has a moment where she is so desperate and needs someone to help her. Where ordinarily, she’s like, even if this is a stranger you don’t know that it could benefit you to use your pheromones on, she very rarely does, unless she’s backed into a corner. She’s very uncomfortable with it. She doesn’t like it. Which, like, girl, same, I’m really uncomfortable if I can sense that someone is sexually attracted to me, and this is like that taken up to 11.
Courtney: But, um, in a really, really desperate attempt near the end of the series to get Hannah’s help with something, when Hannah is like, “No, I’m done. Leave me alone. I don’t want any part of this. I got shot. And then I became a mutant.” [laughs] “That’s a lot. Just leave me alone now.” Abbi actually does take a cloth and wipe off this serum from her neck, and she does – in a desperate attempt to use her pheromones on Hannah. And that was awful! It was so hard to watch, because I was like, “No, Abbi, don’t do it!” But clearly she had so much guilt from doing that, Hannah was so upset at her for doing that, that it just made for quite a relationship complication.
Courtney: And then, I suppose, if this character or this plot is interesting to you, you can go watch it on your own. It’s not particularly long, and it is a single season. But for the most part, I liked the synthetic stem cell plot. I liked the secret organization plot and basically everything about Alex Sarkov. But there was just, like, a little bit of time where they sort of transitioned into, like, a nanobot plotline.
Royce: Yeah, the nanobots were my least favorite part of the series.
Courtney: I didn’t like that as much.
Royce: I think that – I mean, I’ve never been huge into comics or superheroes or things like that. But I have enjoyed various incarnations of the X-Men franchise for a similar reason. I think sometimes I get into anime series too where a big part of exploring the series are, you know, how does the quote-unquote “magic” of this universe work? What are people’s powers? How do they manifest? That kind of thing.
Royce: And this does read X-Men-like at times.
Courtney: Yeah, almost – without as dark or sullen of a tone – almost Umbrella Academy-esque. Because you’ve got the, like… This isn’t set in a comic book world, but it is set in a world that has comic books. In fact, Juan is a comic book illustrator. So, that’s why these previously very normal humans are relating a lot of their language to, like, fictional creatures and comic book world, but they’re still existing in a reality that is more, I guess, realistic?
Royce: Yeah. And the nanobots were, I guess, a means of power escalation. They became this doomsday device. And everything surrounding them just felt a little out of place. Even the props for the nanobots seemed like, like, [laughing] you ran out of budget before you made this nanobot prop.
Royce: It just didn’t seem to fit very well. I think I would have preferred a different means of reaching the climax of that season –
Royce: – that was more character focused. Because there were other dangerous scenarios with what we’d ultimately have, in this season, was the idea of these genetic changes becoming more widespread and affecting a larger portion of the population. And they could have still reached that conclusion without going through the motions of this “Nanobots taking over the world” plotline.
Courtney: Yeah. And I don’t know. Like, they clearly had an idea for where the nanobots were going to go in a second season. They didn’t really resolve everything that there was to learn about the nanobots. So, I don’t know if I would have started to appreciate them more with more time to see where they were ultimately trying to go with it. But yeah, with – like you said, with the effects, I thought those were the worst effects in the series.
Royce: The nanobots were in a canister with bright lights around it, that was simultaneously like the carrier of a world-ending weapon that you must be super careful with – that was also just nonchalantly tossed in the backseat of a car.
Courtney: [laughing] Yeah, exactly. But yeah, and we do learn that Sydney Burke – this doctor that had been helping them, who has been close to Alex Sarkov in the past – does have sort of a, I guess, just an alter ego kind of a power where she just straight-up turns into a completely different person.
Royce: It isn’t revealed until midway through the season that she also had a condition of her own that she was trying to cure and also has powers that are coming into play.
Courtney: Which, I thought it was hilarious the first time. Because she still, as Sydney, has tremendous affection for Alex Sarkov, even if she hates his guts sometimes. But when she’s her alter ego, she can’t fucking stand that guy. She wants him dead. [laughs]. And the first time Alex actually, like, meets her alter ego and realizes this is what’s going on, he had this hilarious line that just had me rolling. He was like, “Oh, you’re Sydney’s id. How boring.” [laughs] That’s the kind of just, like, petty that that character is.
Royce: But yeah, it is a very Jekyll and Hyde sort of power.
Courtney: Yes, mhm. Which really works for, you know, mad scientist plotline. And the most disappointing thing is the way the series resolved. It almost could have been wrapped up in a neat enough bow to just be a single season thing. Almost. But they did… They had, like, sort of a nice resolution where, you know, Abbi and Juan finally got their cure, and it shows Abbi and Hannah have patched things up and they are… I think they’re living together in the last episode.
Royce: They are.
Royce: I double-checked.
Courtney: So they are now living together. This is, like, fast-forwarding to three months. And Tilda had decided that after all this was said and done, she didn’t actually want the cure. Because now she’s started to learn how to control her powers. She knows there are other people out there who also have these mutant abilities who need help. So she kind of goes on, like, I don’t know, a superhero arc where she’s setting out, still with her powers, to try to find these other people to help them. Which I think is really cute, because Juan, writing and illustrating comic books, actually made a comic book about, I think, the three of them, but like, specifically, her – how she’s still out there.
Royce: Well, Juan and Abbi both, at some point, are like, “Why does Tilda get all the useful powers?”
Courtney: [laughs] Right. So that almost could have been an ending, because, you know, Juan’s got new comic books out. He’s starting to have a healthier relationship with his brother. Abbi’s in a better place with Hannah. They’re living together. They’re cured. They’re happy. And then Tilda’s out, like, rescuing these other Imperfects, and it shows a pretty badass scene of her doing just that, and then finding one of Juan’s comic books that’s using her as inspiration for a character and being really… Oh, I guess they did kind of have a romantic plotline between Juan and Tilda, didn’t they? I totally forgot about that. I guess they did. They did get flirty at a certain point, those two did.
Courtney: And like, if they just ended it there, that probably could have been okay. But the cliffhanger right at the end – that I have to try to forget about because I’m never gonna get a resolution – first of all, had Hannah coming home to see Abbi just, like, enmeshed in a cocoon of goo. What’s that? What happened? Really curious about that. But I’m even more curious about what they teased for Alex Sarkov. Because Sydney had said at one point, like, “I’ve known you your entire life.” But we see her on the phone with someone who looks like an elderly version of Alex Sarkov, and they’re talking as if they are both on the same page. They know exactly what’s going on. And it’s basically revealed that Sarkov was also the result of experimentation, and thus is why he is this incredible super genius who is teaching college as a child, which makes sense. I wondered about that myself. It’s like, in this world of all of these, you know, mutants and genetically modified people, there’s got to be something going on with him. But now we see yes, there is, and the guy who knows something about this looks exactly like you and is talking to Dr. Sydney Burke. So she clearly knows whatever the heck your deal is, even though Alex Sarkov doesn’t seem to know that he’s a result of an experiment. So, that’s so compelling! I want to know more about that. I wish!
Courtney: And here’s the thing, because you are never going to know, if you have been signed for a single season of a new TV show on Netflix, you’re technically not going to know if you have a second season. So I almost want people to make a single season so that it’s a nice complete story, but at the same time, you also kind of can’t do that, because you have to get people excited about a second season in the hopes of using that to sell the second season. But if… here’s how I think it could have been a great show. If they cut out the nanobot nonsense, and all the time they spent dedicated to the nanobots, they actually started to explore whatever they were teasing with Alex Sarkov for a second season and just put that right in there. And then ended it basically exactly the same way they ended it, without Hannah walking in on Abbi wrapped in goo.
Royce: Oh gotcha. There weren’t any real hints towards Alex or towards these experiments going back before Alex’s time, which is what’s hinted at in the end was.
Royce: I kind of got the impression that… I mean, what Alex has been doing this entire series has been trying to change all of humanity, genetically, essentially, to avert some kind of inevitable disaster that he was often convinced normal people wouldn’t be able to comprehend or understand. And it seems like his creation was a part of that. Like, we need a more intelligent human to solve the problems that we can’t currently solve.
Courtney: Yeah. Well, they talked about real-world problems too, like climate change. Like, climate change is happening, and we need…. like, this is an emergency. We need humans who can deal with this.
Royce: The other side of it, the wrapped in goo part – Yeah, it is a cliffhanger, but it seemed like what was being set up was the process to mutate all of humanity was happening. It was spreading. It was affecting more people. And the characters who had been attempted to be cured – instead of actually curing their powers, it just changed them in some way – potentially matured them in some way.
Courtney: Well, she also walked away with, like, the sealed canister of nanobots, too. As the one who knows some things about science, she was like, “What am I gonna do with these? Like, how do I dispose of them?” And she didn’t really have an answer or know what to do with them yet, so she just sort of had the sealed canister. So, I don’t know if the nanobots had anything to do with the goo? Maybe? But yeah, Hannah, like, walks in horrified.
Courtney: And it’s like, the reasons why I would want a season 2 are to explore Abbi and Hannah’s relationship and dynamic more. Because I thought everything we saw so far was good and well done; I just wanted more time with them. And then I wanted more time with Alex Sarkov and his backstory and whoever this mysterious elder Sarkov is. So I’m mad that we’ll never get that. Shame on Netflix.
Courtney: I just saw another article and people talking online being upset that… what was it called, like, 1899 or something? Another Netflix show that got canceled after a single season – which again, I had never heard of that show until I saw the headlines that Netflix canceled it. And I just don’t get what they’re doing with advertising. I think a lot of companies haven’t figured out how to advertise in the current world we exist in. Because also, like, I have been shocked at every new Disney film that’s come out for, like, the last three or four years. Like, “Oh, there’s a Disney film? [laughs] Like, when did that release?” Or then, I guess it’s not that they don’t necessarily know how, it’s just that they’re incredibly selective about the things they actually advertise with. Because, oh my gosh, Wednesday was advertised up and down, and that advertising very heavily relied on the queer community.
Courtney: And, you know, it’s odd. Because, I mean, I’ve said before that fandom as a community is not something I can relate to or necessarily understand. But if something does get a fandom behind it, the fandom itself will advertise the show. I mean, that is the only reason I have ever heard of The Owl House and why we watched it was because there was a fandom. And yet, for the most part, a lot of fandoms with queer headcanons or who really pick up and dwell on the coding that isn’t explicitly stated almost gets a lot more advertising in just the word of mouth social media sphere than anything that is explicit. Because I don’t know if it’s just the discourse that comes from it – someone being like, “This person is this identity and you can’t tell me different,” but then someone else who wants that character to be that identity is going to argue with it – maybe that just gets the like, toxic argumentative side of social media that really gets boosted going.
Courtney: But like, here we have an Ace character that the Ace community isn’t talking about, and there’s also a really good gay character that nobody is talking about. Which, that did get confirmed on screen, because during a flashback, Sydney and Alex were sitting at a cafe and they had a guy who was waiting on them or something, and Sydney was kind of nudging him, like, “Go for it, ask him out,” and he didn’t seem very interested in it. He seemed gay, but not interested in pursuing a romantic relationship. And then, I was like, “Ha! See, Royce, I told you, he’s clearly gay.” [laughs] And also probably neurodivergent – which, to be fair, I think a lot of queer comics are.
Courtney: But yeah, it’s a shame. We need more. Like, honestly, how many Ace women of color in a relationship with another woman of color do we have in media? I don’t know if we have any!
Royce: The Outer Worlds is the only one I can think of.
Courtney: Yeah. And that’s a video game. That’s not a TV show or a movie. I demand more! If I had my gavel, I would smack it. And [laughs] someday, someday. I’ll actually get a gavel. [laughs]
Courtney: So on that note, let us know if you’ve seen The Imperfects, what you thought of it, if you liked it, if you didn’t like it, if you’re just as upset as I am that we don’t have a season 2 and/or more Ace women of color in the media. And as always, remember, don’t trust scientists.