Asexual Representation? Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory ft. Tyger Songbird
We've never seen The Big Bang Theory and literally the ONLY thing we'd ever heard about it is “there's an awkward character named Sheldon Cooper who was asexual...until he wasn't”. So, we invited our friend Tyger Songbird back to tell us all about it and help us pass judgement!
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- Understanding Alcohol and Tobacco Consumption in Asexual Samples: A Mixed-Methods Approach
- Sherlock Holmes: Asexual Icon by David J Bradley
- Ace Notes by Michelse Kirichanskaya
- I am asexual. My story is exactly why LGBTQ inclusive sex ed should be required in schools.
Follow Tyger Songbird!
Courtney: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to The Ace Couple podcast. My name is Courtney. I’m here with my spouse, Royce. And we have a guest today — one that you will recognize, in fact. You know him. You love him. We have the fabulous Tyger Songbird. Tyger, welcome back!
Tyger: I’m glad to be back! I’m glad you invited me back. I’m so happy. So have you guys been?
Courtney: Oh, you know, [laughing] Pride Month is creeping up on us. There is a lot of work to do. We have been just busy as can be. But we have been trying to get more interviews back on the podcast. And it’s been a minute since we’ve talked to you, so we definitely thought, “Well, we’ve got to get Tyger back on if we’re doing a new wave of interviews.”
Tyger: I know. I love joining you guys’ podcast. I’ve recommended you guys to everybody that I know, so that everyone could know about your podcast. And I saw you guys, the past year, get into some national recognition, some international recognition as well, so.
Courtney: [laughing] I suppose you could say that!
Tyger: Couldn’t be more well deserved, you know? I was watching —
Courtney: Oh, well, that’s so appreciated.
Tyger: I really should be due for a trip to Kansas City. That way, I can meet you guys in person. [laughs]
Courtney: You should! We’ve said it before: you are welcome here. You’re not all that far away. I mean, I don’t know if it goes as far south as Oklahoma, but I definitely know there’s, like, this middle of the country mindset that, like, “If I can drive there in the span of a day, it is driving distance.”
Tyger: Yeah. I mean, we’ve driven to Kansas City in six hours, so.
Courtney: Oh, six hours! That’s nothing. We’re practically neighbors. [laughs]
Tyger: Although I didn’t do it to the Kansas side; I went to the Missouri side. But now I’m going — would be Kansas, which I don’t know if that’s the good side of the bad side. I think that’s the better one right now, right?
Courtney: It is the better one right now. I mean, they both got some political issues going on right now, but somehow, Kansas is the better one.
Tyger: All right. Yeah, I’ll be there. I lived in Kansas for two years. It was, uh… it was interesting. Right outside of Wichita. So it’s very beautiful. I do love the Kansas, you know, landscape and everything, so I do appreciate it a lot. So those two years were really cool to watch and look at it. So I’m due for another trip back.
Royce: We have realized, talking to people all over the world, that that is a pretty uniquely American thing, because some people’s countries are a six-hour drive across.
[Courtney and Tyger laugh]
Tyger: I know. I know. It’s like, you go to — there’s a bridge in between Portugal and Spain that actually takes 10 minutes. It’s like, [laughing] it’s like 10 minutes, and you’re from Portugal, right into Spain. I’m like, “That is an easy convenience.” That’s, like, less time than it takes me to get to the grocery store.
Courtney: Yeah! Well, we have so much just land [laughing] right here that so many of the cities in the middle of the country, especially, are so spaced far apart. And most people will be like, “Well, if you’re driving eight hours anyway, why don’t you just take a plane?” It’s like, because none of our airports are major hubs, so it’s really expensive to fly between them! [laughs]
Tyger: I know. I know. That’s… So vast. It’s so expansive.
Courtney: So, you heard it here first, audience: the next time we have Tyger on the podcast, we will be recording in person. We’ll have — maybe, maybe we’ll be able to have a little, like, Ace get-together in Kansas City while you’re here. I think that would be so cool.
Tyger: Yeah. You know what, we do need an Ace conference in America. Like, a super conference. [laughs]
Courtney: A super conference! Well, maybe we’ll start small. We’re still very, very reluctant to be in large groups of people right now because of, you know, pandemic things. But, I don’t know. If it’s something in the summer, if there’s an outdoor component, if there’s also an online component, I think there’s a lot of potential there.
Tyger: Oh yeah, that would be great. I vote for right around this time, because it’s, like, 80 degrees right now in my town.
Courtney: Oh yeah.
Tyger: This is when it’s really good, before the weather starts turning into 110.
Tyger: And then you just end up being so hot, you just might as well not even cook. You might as well just take your eggs, make an omelet, break it, and cook it on the sidewalk, because it’ll take, like, two minutes to cook.
Courtney: Agree. It definitely needs to be spring, because there’s a tiny window. It goes from… Well, maybe in Oklahoma, it doesn’t get quite as cold as it gets here, because you’re a little south-er than we are, but —
Tyger: [laughs] Depends on what you mean by “cold.” [laughs]
Courtney: It gets too cold, and then it gets too hot. And there’s a teeny-tiny window and spring and a teeny-tiny window in fall where it’s just perfect. [laughs]
Tyger: There’s a reason why Oklahoma is number one for meteorologists in the world.
Tyger: You get every bit of weather you could possibly get. We have the winter; people get shell-shocked. They get shell-shocked as to how the winter in Oklahoma — it’s like, [higher-pitched] “It’s down south! Why is there black ice and we’re sliding all over the place in this thing?” Like, “I don’t even understand it!” Like, people… For one, it’s hard to drive, and there are so many wrecks on the road. That’s why, when it’s a snow day, and it starts snowing, we just start shutting things down. Because we know, not only is it snowing, it’s gonna be some black ice coming up the next morning, and it’s just gonna slip and slide all over, people car sliding. I literally had to help a friend once because his car almost hydroplaned out.
Courtney: Ohhh, [distressed] ohhh. See, I believe that. Because I think all of these states that are just stacked right on top of each other [laughs] in the middle of the country — they all have such extreme weather. And one thing I’ve noticed, since I grew up in South Dakota, after moving to Kansas City, it’s like, the weather is exactly the same but milder all around. It doesn’t get quite as cold, [laughing] but all of it is still present.
Tyger: We are Tornado Alley, after all. We just came from having a tornado hit one of our towns that literally took out almost every house in the town, so.
Courtney: Eugh, yeah. It sounds like Joplin, Missouri a few years ago. Everyone talks about that around here as, like, the big disaster.
Tyger: We just keep having them.
Courtney: The difference is, when I was in South Dakota, we’d never shut anything down for weather at all. Because it’s like, “You live in South Dakota. Buck up. This is just how it is.” So if there was ice, if there was black ice — there could be an ice storm where literally trees are cracking in half because they are so frozen and falling on cars, and people will be like, “You still gotta go to work, because this is South Dakota. This is what you signed up for.” And we wouldn’t have school canceled unless it hit, like, negative 25 degrees Celsius. So we’d still be going in zero degree weather.
Courtney: Did I say Celsius? Why did I do that?
Royce: Yeah. No one in South Dakota uses Celsius.
Courtney: Nobody — [laughing] nobody in this country uses Celsius. [laughs]
Tyger: The metric system has been completely thwarted in America.
Courtney: No, negative 25 Fahrenheit. So, yeah, it was not good. I mean, that’s why I got — like, I literally got frostbite on my fingers just trying to walk from the school to the library across the street in elementary school. Because nobody should have been out in that weather, but they’re like, “You live in South Dakota, kid. Gotta handle it.” [laughs]
Tyger: See, our heat is crazy. Our heat is super crazy. It’s nuts. It could be 115 degrees outside and we would be just okay going out. It’d be like, “Just get out there and just go. Just go.”
Courtney: Ugh. Ugh. I don’t like the heat. I do not like the heat. So —
Tyger: I prefer heat. I prefer heat, myself.
Courtney: Do you? I can’t handle heat.
Tyger: I hate the cold. My bones are brittle, so it’s like —
[Courtney and Tyger laugh]
Tyger: I’m really skinny as is, so I don’t have a lot of weight or, you know, insulation on my body. So the cold makes it like I’m getting hit in all different directions. And I feel like I’m tipping over sometimes when it’s incredibly windy.
Courtney: Oh no! [laughs]
Tyger: When it’s incredibly windy, I fall. [laughs]
Courtney: Timber! [laughs]
Tyger: [quietly] Ahh! [regular volume] So, yes, I would prefer to live where it is always warm, particularly somewhere in the range of 80 to 90. 115 degrees? I can tolerate it [laughing] for a little bit.
Tyger: I mean, I’ve actually played — I played basketball in 100 degree heat once, so — plenty of times in my life, so that’s just what you get used to. That’s why summertime — that’s why everyone goes out and plays basketball in summertime, because it’s finally time you can actually play basketball and not worry about slipping on the flat tops. [laughs]
Courtney: [laughing] True, true. Yeah. Okay. I would die. I cannot. But I respect those who can handle the heat.
Tyger: If you can’t stand the heat —
Courtney: Stay inside! Never leave the house. [laughs]
Royce: Now that we’ve done the Midwestern thing and thoroughly discussed the weather and geography and travel in areas that we have all been in…
Courtney: That is. That is hopelessly Midwestern. [laughs]
Tyger: I think they got confused. Are we on The Ace Couple podcast, or is this The Weather Channel right now?
Courtney: Listen, listeners who are not from the Midwest or don’t associate with people from the Midwest, this is customary. This is mandated. [laughs]
Royce: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, you’ve been a couple of years in the Wichita area. That’s pretty close to where I grew up. What a coincidence.
Courtney: [laughs] This is tradition. So now that we have met the appropriate requirements for a Midwestern conversation, let’s get into the main topic of today, because I’m really, really excited. When we first started this podcast, and we sort of asked the community, “What sort of things do you want to hear an Ace couple talk about on a podcast?” the number one answer that we got across the board was, “Talk about Ace representation in the media.” And so we have done that on a number of occasions. We’ve talked about the good, the bad, the ugly, the complicated. But today, we have a valuable resource. We have Tyger Songbird. And you are familiar with a show that we have never, ever seen before. So, I want you to tell us all about The Big Bang Theory.
Tyger: Oooh. Ohhh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.
Courtney: I can tell this is gonna be a good one already. [laughs]
Tyger: This is gonna be great. So, yes, The Big Bang Theory. I actually had to look up the year it came out. I think it came out in 2008. I think I was really entering college when it came out as a show. So, it came out in 2007, so right as I was finishing my senior year in high school. So that just lets you know how old and how long the show — and it went for 12 seasons, so.
Courtney: I didn’t even realize it went that long! Wow.
Tyger: Yes. It was the number one show on primetime television for quite a while. And Jim Parsons, who we’re going to talk about, was Sheldon. He played Sheldon. He was the number one TV actor. I think the number one TV actress was from Modern Family, Sofia Vergara, who’s a Colombian actress, and she played on Modern Family, which is another show my family loved to watch. And Jim Parsons was number one on all of TV. He was just racking up Emmys. He was just collecting them. It was almost like, [laughing] “Oh, come on, Emmys. Just give him one a year while he was at it.”
Tyger: But yeah, so, I was literally just finishing my high school year. And I remember the show Big Bang Theory coming out. Because it’s rather interesting that there hadn’t been a show really dedicated to kind of geek culture. Because I grew up — personally, myself — as a hybrid, so I’m kind of like a hybrid mixture. You always talk about cliques in school. And you know, we always talk about, “What clique did you belong to?” or “What group were you most associated with?” So, I kind of had, like, a mixture of groups. Like, I didn’t really fit into, like, a perfect blend of everything, but I fit into, like, a lot of different groups at different times.
Tyger: So I was… I grew up with an athletic family. My family is very athletic. My father played baseball. My brother played basketball. I love basketball and played. And, you know, we had that in a mixture. And then I was the choir kid in the family. So, I grew up in choir groups, and I still sing to this day. So, that’s, you know, choir geek me, and then sports geek me. And then I have real geek me, who was into science, and trivia geek me — person, you know, who loves to go to trivia nights every week, so. I played Academic Bowl, trivia bowl, in school.
Tyger: So there wasn’t, like, a show dedicated to just geek culture and science geek-y and everything like that, which, I was like, “Wow, this is a really interesting show.” When I saw it come on, I watched the first episode, and it was rather interesting. The pilot episode was… Because I remember Johnny Galecki. He was on Roseanne, and he was the little boy on Roseanne.
Courtney: That is a show that I watched. I did see Roseanne.
Tyger: Yeah. So, I remembered him. I didn’t really know much about the show. And it was kind of this show where it was four guys who liked to hang out and were science geeks and all worked at the same university — Caltech, basically. They got a new roommate who was this young, blonde girl that just moved in from Nebraska. [laughs] And she was trying to make it as an actress. So, I remember the show, when they kind of show the first series, it was like, okay, there’s this young girl. And obviously, you know, geeks and girls, they always play on, like, the Revenge of the Nerds type thing, where they’re like, the geeks are always trying to get the girl, that conventionally attractive girl, because it’s like, you know, I guess all geeks dream about. But I was rather interested because I loved the character of Sheldon in the beginning. And I really loved Sheldon because he was particularly not interested, and you could kind of tell.
Tyger: And I guess the thing with Sheldon… He is exceptionally brilliant. He graduated college at, I think, 13. And he graduated with, like, his first bachelor at 13, he got a doctorate, and he’s, you know, an adult now. And he’s trying to figure out string theory, to make string theory complete, as a physicist. And I was like, “He’s really interested in science.” And I was really rather interested in him because he wasn’t really interested in what the other guys were, which was all about trying to get girls and trying to get sex and everything like that. And it was like, “Wow!”
Tyger: Sheldon kind of fit with me because it was always like that, you know? I hung around a bunch of guys in school that were all about trying to get girlfriends and the whole American Pie thing, where it was going on in high school. Because that was big when I was in school, the American Pie world, which was like, everybody’s trying to get sex before they graduate, and, you know, you don’t want to graduate before you haven’t officially, you know, lost your V-card and all that. And it’s like… ugh, playing on the whole teenagers are, you know, wild and crazy teenagers, and stuff like that. And it’s like, I was not that. I was not the wild, crazy teenager. I’ve never really been wild and crazy [laughs] in my life like that.
Courtney: So, let’s fill in a quick gap in Courtney’s pop culture lexicon. [laughs] Because you mentioned American Pie, which is also something I have not seen, but I think I’m still familiar with it. Is that the one that the band camp joke comes from?
Tyger: “One time —”
Tyger: “— when I was at band camp…”
Courtney: Thank you!
Tyger: “One time, when I was at band camp…”
Courtney: Okay. [laughs]
Tyger: [laughing] “One time, when I was at band camp…” Yeah, that one. And that’s kind of the whole deal. And, you know, there have always been teen movies where they’ve always done stuff — like, teenagers do wild things and try to get girls, you know. Weird Science was another one in the ’80s, with — the John Hughes films or The Breakfast Club in the ‘80s with, you know, Molly Ringwald and Emilio Estevez.
Courtney: That one I did see.
Tyger: You know, Charlie Sheen’s brother. You know, they always do these shows where they’re like, you know, the geeky guys are always trying to get with the girls that are typically, quote unquote, “out of their league,” or some of, like, the popular girls in school, and stuff like that. And then Superbad was something like that as well, with Jonah Hill and Michael Cera. That was another one where they were trying to get a bunch of people like that. The Judd Apatow universe was really like that quite a lot.
Tyger: So having a show where a character who wasn’t really interested in that… The way they framed Sheldon was always, in a way, problematic for me. Because Sheldon was always framed in a way as a comic relief, even though he’s a brilliant genius — like, more elevated genius of his friends than the other three. Because, you know, they always framed Sheldon as robotic. They always framed Sheldon… And while Sheldon — you know, they always said, “I’m not —” He always used to say, “I’m not crazy. My mom had me tested.”
Courtney: Ohhh. Oh no. [laughs]
Tyger: Because I guess they tried to test him to see if he was on the Autism spectrum. Which, again, if he were on Autism spectrum, I hate that idea, because I worked with students with Autism. And quite frankly, the idea that always gets passed around as a myth is that, you know, people who are on the Autism spectrum just aren’t interested in sex. It’s a very ableistic rhetoric. Because quite frankly, I’ve had a lot of students with Autism who have been very interested, and they want to have girlfriends. They want to, you know, get married. They want to have, you know, families. And it’s just — it’s very ableistic, because it’s like, we’re in a state of mind now… I’m sure you guys have seen some of the articles about, like, birth replacement and —
Tyger: — birth population declining. Well, what they always frame it as is like, “Well, people with disabilities should get excluded from this.” And it’s kind of like an attempt at eugenics in a way. Because it’s like, if you’re —
Courtney: Oh, yeah.
Tyger: — someone with a disability, you shouldn’t breed, is what they’re basically saying. And that’s just really rude to say. And they frame Sheldon in that way, as someone, like, being robotic. It’s basically like, “Oh, he’s not interested in sex because he’s, you know, he’s on the Autism spectrum,” or “He’s got high functioning Asperger’s,” or… And like, okay, first of all, that’s really horrible framing of what Autism spectrum looks like, for one, and what Asperger’s looks like, two. And then three, this is where we’re gonna get at today — because I know people would like to discuss that further; I’m going to try to keep it to this as much as possible — three: there’s nothing wrong with Sheldon not being interested, you know, in sex like that. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Tyger: And they framed it in that degree because early on in episodes, they would often try to pigeonhole Sheldon into, like, sexual scenarios where people would try to, like, be interested in him, but he’s not interested. Like, in the first episode, Penny, who is played by Kaley Cuoco, her shower doesn’t work. So Leonard and Sheldon — Leonard, basically; Sheldon kind of doesn’t like people using personal spaces and stuff. So Sheldon and Leonard, they have a shower, and it’s like, Leonard goes, “You can use our shower since yours isn’t working.” And Penny comes out in a towel, basically. Just basically wearing nothing but a towel on. Goes in the shower. And Sheldon kind of diverts his eyes and, like, you know, tries to not look at her — you know, being respectful, I guess, of her. And it’s like, Leonard, Howard, and Raj, who are the three friends, are just really like, “Oh, gosh,” you know, really super interested. And it’s like, you know, they always keep trying to frame it that way.
Tyger: And as the series and the episodes go on, it really gets even worse, to a degree. It gets really worse. There was one episode in season two, if I’m not mistaken, where Sheldon takes on this new basically protege. Her name is Ramona, and she would be a kind of a recurring character in this show. And Ramona is really interested in Sheldon — not only for his intellectual brilliance, but also because Sheldon could be on the cusp of a world-renowned discovery. So she basically is like a groupie for Sheldon. And Ramona agrees to, like, do all of Sheldon’s chore work in exchange for, like, I guess favor from him. Like, the first time they meet, she agrees to go get him his favorite meal on a day. Like, Sheldon is regimented in terms of — like, he likes to eat certain meals on certain days. So he goes to eat Thai food, and she goes to his favorite Thai restaurant and orders it exactly to the T. Exactly. Gets everything done.
Tyger: And then she meets him. And Penny is, like, stunned and is like, “Did you come to see Leonard?” “No, I came to see Dr. Cooper.” “Dr. Sheldon Cooper?” And it’s like, “Yes, we’re having dinner.” “Sheldon?” And it’s like… And it’s kind of framed in that way because they’re, like, looking at it, and they’re like, “Okay. Sheldon and Ramona.” And they kind of go into like this witty repartee, and it goes — I think Ramona says at one point, “I read your last latest report, and I gotta say, it was incredibly… [emphasizing the innuendo] stimulating.”
Courtney: Oh, no. Oh, no!
Tyger: Kind of framing it in, you know, they’re basically doing — like, it was an innuendo between them. It was like, “My hypotheses tend to have that effect on people.”
Courtney: Oh, no! [laughs]
Tyger: So, and then Ramona kind of gets kicked out. And then at that point, Penny asks a question and goes, “Okay, it’s not my place to ask the questions, but I gotta honestly know.” And Penny asks, you know, Leonard, Raj, and Howard — because Howard is, like, a huge… I don’t like calling people “dogs” or “hounds,” but, like, he is all about it. Like he’s… I don’t even like calling it “hypersexual.” It’s just like, he has super high appetite, I guess. But Penny asked, “Okay, I gotta ask. What’s Sheldon’s deal?” And then, you know, “What’s his deal? Is it girls? Guys? Sock puppets?” And Leonard actually goes, “We’ve operated under the assumption he has no deal.”
Tyger: And Penny’s like, “Come on. Everybody has something.”
Courtney: Oh, no.
Tyger: “Everybody’s got something.” And Howard goes, “Not Sheldon. Not Sheldon. Honestly, we’ve asked for years how he would even possibly reproduce.” I think Howard goes into, like, “I think he’s going to be mitosis. I’m an advocate of mitosis.” Which is where… Like, in the Ace community, there was a joke for a while where it was like, mitosis and Asexuality were kind of linked for a while.
Courtney: Yeah! Well, it sounds like something that could actually be, like, quality Ace humor if there were Ace people in the writers’ room or playing Sheldon. Like, if it was done with sensitivity and research, there’s potential there. I could see myself seeing that conversation and being like, “Yeah, what an allo conversation to have about Ace people.” [laughs]
Royce: We’ve mentioned a couple times before that one of the really early, like, pre-AVEN Ace communities was Haven for the Human Amoeba.
Tyger: Yeah. Yeah, so that’s kind of… Like, so many jokes just kind of come in from — so it’s like, “I believe Sheldon will, you know, eat enough Thai food and then split into two Sheldons.” [laughs] And that’s kind of how they thought. Because they’ve never seen Sheldon be interested. Literally, in one episode in season one, we flash back. Raj is actually set up with the date, because his parents are trying to set him up on an arranged marriage, because Raj is from India, and he’s, you know, the whole thing of “he’s not getting any younger” kind of thing — which I’ve heard quite often. [mocking] “You’re not getting any younger!”
Tyger: You know, I just turned 33 myself, so I often get that. [mocking] “You’re not getting any younger!” So Raj is set up by his parents to be with this girl from back home who used to pick on him but now is all grown up. And now Raj, who has an inability to speak to women whatsoever because he’s got such social anxiety… so, he’s got a social anxiety disorder where he finds himself unable to speak to women. Raj is set up on this date. He ends up getting drunk on the date, and he finds himself now being able to speak. He is speaking, stumbling and everything. And you know, in vino veritas, I guess, you know. In wine ,there is truth. He’s just saying anything that’s on his mind, including things that are like, “You gotta stop now. You gotta stop saying some things.” So he’s on a date.
Tyger: Sheldon comes in and sees the girl, and her name was Lalita. And he sees her and he goes, “Oh my gosh, that’s Princess Panchali. She’s from an Indian fairy tale that I grew up reading. Indian princess who befriends a monkey and makes the monkey her friend.” That was kind of interesting. There’s a long story to that. But anyway, Lalita and Sheldon start talking. And Lalita apparently — like, in a way that people kind of were picking up — like, Sheldon was speaking and I guess was, you know, sweet talking, [laughs] in a way, but he was just kind of being himself, talking about how she looks like the Princess Panchali. Like, “You look just like her.” And Raj’s date starts falling for Sheldon.
Tyger: And Raj gets jealous. It’s like, “I’m going to have to unleash my wrath on you if you keep speaking to her that way.” And, “You’re trying to take that girl away from me.” Sheldon’s like, “I’m not hitting on her.” And she’s like, “I’m not your girl.” Turned out Lalita only went on to date because, like, her parents put her up to it as well. She didn’t want to do it either. So by the end of the discussion, Lalita and Sheldon end up leaving together, and Raj has left there, mouth agape, like, “What happened?” And then, Howard goes, “I don’t know what happened, but I just learned how to pick up Indian girls.” [laughs]
Courtney: Oh, no! Oh, no!
Tyger: I was like, “Oh my gosh.”
Courtney: That sounds so racist.
Tyger: But what ends up happening at the end of the episode is that it turned out Lalita’s a dentist, so they kind of had a discussion on dentistry, which Sheldon already kind of was interested in. While Raj is mad, Sheldon kind of reveals at the end, it’s like, “What happened between you and Lalita?” And he goes, “We just talked about the industry, talked about, you know, how potential plaque can lead to myocarditis, which I already knew, so there’s really nothing I needed to speak to her about.” And he goes, “Are you gonna go see her again?” And Sheldon goes, “Why would I see her again? I already have a dentist.”
[Tyger and Courtney laugh]
Tyger: So, while a lot of people were thinking, “Oh, Sheldon just got himself a girlfriend,” Sheldon’s like, “I’m not interested in that.” And Leonard goes, “I wonder who will tell his parents he’s not having any grandkids anytime.”
Courtney: Aw, man. See, from everything you’ve said so far, I’m hearing so much potential. Like, really good potential with, like, problematic elements thrown in, which… I guess you said it was, like, 2007, 2008 was when it started. So that era of TV is not, you know, perfectly pure. But man, it sounds like there was so much that could have been really good for a really promising Ace character here.
Tyger: Yeah. The story writing could have just gone a different direction, just a slightly bit of a turn; it would have been so much better. Like, the writers of The Big Bang Theory could have just normalized Sheldon, being like, “Okay, he’s not interested in that.” And it’s like, he’s complete as a person. He’s happy as a person. He’s content as a person. But oftentimes, they’re just playing up the comic relief.
Tyger: Like, because Sheldon and Leonard live together as two men, there is often so much, like, ties of, like, two men living together as being, like, they’re an Odd Couple, Oscar and Felix scenario, where it’s, you know, are they gay? Are they not? Like, they’re two men living together, so obviously, they must be, you know, in a couple relationship, as two gay guys living together. You know, it must be in a relationship with each other. And it’s like, two men living together does not mean that they have to be in a relationship. They can live in a flat and that wouldn’t be anything, you know? There’s two roommates. There are two roommates that have nothing — but, you know, everyone assumes they’re gay and in a relationship with each other. And that’s obviously playing on the homophobia and the element, like, “Oh, you know, two men living together. That’s great. That’s great. You know, you guys obviously are… I’m glad. I’m so happy and supportive of you finding love with each other.” And I’m like, “They’re not in a relationship. Are you saying that the only reason two people would live together is because they’re in love with each other?”
Courtney: Which, I don’t see that happening as often with, like, two women that are roommates. Like, it’s a little more acceptable.
Tyger: Yeah. It hardly ever happens. In some cases, it kind of does, in a way. But, like, the Sex and the City were four women being friends, it’s just four women being friends, because girlfriends, you know? I watched Girlfriends with Kelsey Grammer, and it was four women, you know, basically living and doing life together, almost always under one’s roof. No one bats an eye at that. But two men living together is always seen as some reason, as some gay relationship. And it’s like, two men can live together. Or, like, the Three’s Company universe where it was like — I’ll throw this in — if a man and a woman live together, and they’re just roommates, then it’s always seen as some sort of, you know, if they’re not married, then there must be some sort of, you know, cohabitation — the nice polite way they like to say of “They must be just shacking up. They must just be playing house,” as I’ve heard, or…
Courtney: “Living in sin.” [laughs]
Tyger: “Being illicit.” A lot of it’s like, you can’t be friends with someone of the opposite gender, and stuff like that. It’s like, ugh, can we please get past this yet? At this time, it hadn’t. But yes, that ends up being a huge storyline. But Sheldon has no interest in anyone. And that leads to another complication when his friends try to set him up. Because, like, they tried to set him up on different occasions.
Tyger: Like, Raj [laughing] actually, kind of, I guess, twisted Shelton’s arm one time to make him go with him to this speed dating event. Like, Shannon’s like, “I don’t want to go.” So he ends up driving Sheldon by giving him the limited edition Green Lantern lantern. And he says, “Okay, if I give you this, you have to go with me.” And he does. And Raj ends up finding a girl who is also kind of a bit of a geek herself. And Sheldon finds a girl. And I can’t remember — it’s, like, in season three, but I can’t remember her name.
Tyger: And they ended up talking. Like, their form of conversation is talking about the essay “Flatland,” which is, like, a sci-fi Victorian-era essay. You can actually find it and read the PDF online, which is really interesting. I actually read it. It’s kind of interesting. It reads like a short story.
Courtney: We’ll put it in the show notes for our listeners! Why not?
Tyger: It kind of reads like a short story, but it’s also an essay, so it’s really rather interesting. And they kind of discuss it. And Sheldon’s form — like, when they talk about “scoring” as a wingman, Sheldon calls it “scoring” and they’re playing Guitar Hero. [laughing] They’re playing Rock Band.
Tyger: And that’s their form of fun, but it’s like, okay. But at the end of the episode, she ends up trying to go further. She wants to take it — like, you know, they’re all saying, “Let’s take our relationship to the next level.”
Courtney: Because it’s a game, and the prize is sex. You have won when you have achieved sex.
Tyger: Yeah. It’s like, “Well, I like to, you know, do a little bit more and go to the next level.” And Sheldon doesn’t think that way. He’s just not even interested in that. And at the end of the episode, she tries to go into his bedroom. It’s like, “Uh, well, they’re kind of going in the next room, and I need a place to stay, because I can’t drive overnight.” And she goes, “Okay.” And Sheldon agrees. He lets her come into his bedroom, which was a huge thing, because he doesn’t like anybody coming into his space and his inner sanctum. So she comes and she sits on the bed. And people are going, “Ooooh! Something ’bout to happen.” Like, “Oh, are they about to do it?” And then Sheldon goes, “I’m gonna go sleep in Leonard’s room. Good night.”
Tyger: So [laughing] he leaves her in his room, and he goes sleeps in Leonard’s room, which was kind of the deal of like, yeah, Sheldon’s not trying to do anything. And people are like — the audience just goes, “Come on, Sheldon! You could have gotten laid by that girl.” And it’s like, Sheldon’s just not interested in it. I wish the show wouldn’t have made it such comic relief, you know? Making him seem like, oh, Sheldon is just, like… He’s not receptive, or he doesn’t understand social cues, or, you know, he doesn’t understand, like, you know, when people are flirting with him — which, I wouldn’t understand it either. [laughs] So.
Courtney: Yeah! Well, that’s something I actually kind of like and would like to see in… like, replicated, but in a really good, sensitive way for future Ace rep. I would love to see an Ace who’s just completely oblivious to, you know, the romantic and courting and sexual tension cues. Because I think that’s relatable to a lot of Aces. I have 1,000% been on, like, dates that I did not think was a date, but the other person thought we were on a date. And it’s like, “Well, you didn’t tell me this was a date. You did not ask me on a date. So I’m not playing this game where, you know, ‘I’m a woman and you’re a man. So if we’re hanging out, it must be romantic.’ Like, I’m not playing that game. Tell me it’s a date if you want a date!”
Tyger: Yeah. And then if you told me it was a date, I’d probably turn you down. [laughs] Say, “Sorry!”
Courtney: Yeah! At least give me the opportunity to say no. Like, let’s set expectations here. [laughs]
Tyger: I would most certainly say no. Like, my — obviously being Aromantic and Asexual, it’s like, no. It’s like, “No. Like, we can be friends. I’d be willing to go to a museum and go to a museum with you. Or we could go to a sporting event or something. Or, you know, spend time or go to trivia night. But not dating. Not dating. Not at all. Sorry! You know, we can hang out and be friends and be buds, and that’s as far as I like my relationships to go.”
Tyger: And if they had made Sheldon to be that way, and just be like, “I like just having friends, and, you know, I just don’t require, you know, romantic affection,” that would be one thing. But they end up changing the script even further, because they would throw in Amy into the equation. And this is where it’s starting to get problematic. So let’s talk about Sheldon and Amy, as a relationship — Amy Farrah Fowler, who was played by now-Jeopardy host Mayim Bialik.
Courtney: Mmm. That is probably the only thing I know about The Big Bang Theory is that actress [laughs] and her career after The Big Bang Theory. And I can visualize what Sheldon looks like. Like, I’ve seen screenshots, maybe little clips here and there. But other than that, the plot has been lost to me.
Tyger: Yeah. So, I guess during season three, they started trying to get all the characters, like, paired off. Because, like, Leonard and Penny, they were in a state of “will they won’t they,” and then they end up starting to date. And then Howard — because Leonard and Penny date, Howard gets set up by Leonard with Bernadette, and they start dating. And Bernadette’s this [high-pitched voice] tiny and short, and is just like, you know, four-foot-eight. And you know, she’s… [regular voice] and all that. And that’s kind of her thing. And she’s kind of a little bit, you know… she kind of is a little bit like, mmm, she doesn’t kind of always understand, like, situations and social cues either. So she’s in that way as well — which I guess fits with Howard, because Howard’s kind of like a little bit gauche himself. Howard lived with his mother. And Howard lived with his mother ’til he was in his 30s and then met Bernadette, and then they ended up getting married and had two kids together.
Tyger: And then Sheldon ended up getting paired up with Amy, but how they paired up Sheldon with Amy was really as problematic as it could get. And it’s something that has almost happened to me, which is, they put Sheldon on a dating website without his consent.
Tyger: They just kind of entered in his, you know, personal information and answered the questions as to whether — you know, how they think Sheldon would answer it. And they ended up drawing a match, and it was one match, and that turned out to be a girl named Amy Farrah Fowler, who is also a scientist. She has a PhD in psychology, where she studies and does tests on, like, primates — like, monkeys — in labs, and she does, you know, test studies. So she’s a clinical psychologist with a PhD, and she has been an award-winning psychologist as well.
Tyger: So they ended up meeting. And basically out of forced pressure of basically making Sheldon believe that he had a dirty sock somewhere in his bedroom, but they would not tell him where it’s at, and they said, “If you don’t go on this date with her, we won’t tell you where it’s at, and you’ll just live with the torment of feeling like there’s a dirty sock,” because Sheldon is very prone to cleanliness, so.
Courtney: That’s terrible.
Tyger: Sheldon ends up capitulating and going on the date. They end up meeting in a coffee shop, and they meet a girl named Amy Farrah Fowler. And they do click very well. You know, they both share an aversion to soiled hosiery. [laughs] And they do share an aversion to compulsive church attendance. Amy only goes on dates once a year, because her mother says she has to.
Courtney: [laughs] Oh, no!
Tyger: They both are under compulsory demands by parents that basically force them to do things. Sheldon is like, “My mom says I have to do church at least once a year,” because Sheldon’s from Texas, East Texas, so it’s, you know, megachurch-land. I mean, for those who are unaware and are listening internationally, if you grow up in Oklahoma and Texas, you are programmed to literally live within, like, five minutes of a church, period. I always say to joke, “You can spit in one direction and it probably hit a church somewhere.” That’s about as equivalent as it gets. I’ve heard a person say, “It’s like Jesus Disneyland.” There are churches all over the place in Oklahoma.
Courtney: I imagine the Christians might take issue with you if you literally do spit on their church, though. [laughs]
Tyger: I’m not advocating for that, people, okay?
Tyger: I’m not. I’m not.
Courtney: Of course not! [laughs]
Tyger: Okay. So don’t come for me, okay? Please don’t.
Tyger: Okay? Please don’t.
Courtney: We’re gonna get angry emails. “Well, I decided to spit in one direction in Oklahoma, and I hit a church, and now — [laughs] now the Christians are after me.”
Tyger: Yeah. Okay. So please don’t come for me. And please don’t test that theory out, okay?
Tyger: Do not. This comes with a “Do not try this at home” label, okay?
Tyger: So, Sheldon and Amy click on that. And then the conversation they first initially have, which is at the end of season three, they end up having such great, like, rapport with each other that Sheldon asks her, “Would you like me to get you a beverage?” Which is a huge step from Sheldon, because, like, he normally does not do things like that. So they agree to buy a beverage. And Leonard and Howard and Raj are sitting there like, “Oh my gosh! What did we just do?” And there’s a hint going into the end of the season that this could turn into something more.
Tyger: And then by season four, the beginning of season four, Sheldon and Amy are an item. And they’re going to have their first official date, after — like, they didn’t meet in person for, like, months. So they would, like, email each other for months. And then they finally agree, “Let’s go on a date in person.” And they went on a date. And then they kind of discuss things. And Penny kind of brought up the idea of, like, “So what are you guys going to do when you guys go on a date? You guys don’t even do anything.” And he goes, “Well, we’ve discussed the possibility of potentially having children, if we do.” And Penny kind of goes, “Are you kidding? Um, you don’t like people touching you. How are you going to have sex?”
Tyger: Sheldon kind of goes, “I normally am informed of how people normally have sex. And I don’t want to do that.” And, you know, Sheldon brought up the idea of, “If we wanted to have kids, we would just do an in vitro fertilization. And that way, we can, you know, make a child that way without having to do anything, you know, the coital relation.” And, you know, Penny is like, [judgmental] “Ohh, yeah.” They make it seem like it’s something less of that.
Tyger: And I have often — [laughing] I used to joke… No, no, this is real true. I used to literally joke like that with my mom. And so my mom was like, “When am I gonna get grandchildren?” It’s like, “You do realize, Mom, I could just donate sperm and I could have a kid, right? Like, I don’t have to… you know.” “I worry about you getting old and you’re not gonna have any children or anything, and I’m not gonna have any grandchildren or anything.” It’s like, “Mom, if I wanted to have kids, or if I ever wanted to have kids, I wouldn’t want to do it that way.” [laughs]
Tyger: I literally joked when I was 17 and literally told, like, my friends… I wish I’d known I was Ace when I was in high school because I used to tell my friends… Like, they used to always talk about wanting kids, and they looked at me so strange, because one day I said, “I never wanted to have kids.” I’ve known I’ve never wanted to have kids since I was 10. And I was like, “Oh, no kids for me. I’m sorry. I can’t. I’m just not.” And I told my friends, like, “I don’t want to have kids. I don’t want to have sex. And if I could, I would just literally get a vasectomy, and end, you know, end the possibility.” My friends looked at me like, “No! What is wrong with you? Like, that is literally crazy. Like, you must be out of your mind or something.” And I’m like, “No, I think I’m fully in it! I know who I am, and I know what I want at the end of the day.”
Tyger: Why does everyone seem to think that what I want from life is somehow lesser as a choice or is somehow, like, you know, desensitized or robotic or inhuman, compared to what you want? Just because I’m different and want different things does not mean I’m, like, cold or robotic. And they always framed Sheldon as somehow cold or robotic because he was literally throwing out the “If I wanted kids, I would just do the in vitro fertilization route and we could just have a kid. You know, take some of my sperm and mix it with whatever eggs and we’ll — boom, we have a kid. Wow.” You know? Interesting. “We don’t have to do anything coitally in that way.” It’s like, okay! You know, people saw that as, like, “That’s really awful.” And it’s like…
Courtney: That is interesting. Because I feel like I don’t know if there have been any, like, good modern representations of, like, IVF in media, but there is a history of television shows treating in vitro fertilization as something that is gross and repulsive. Which is very, very weird, because even… My show of choice was The Golden Girls, which predated Big Bang Theory. But there was even an episode where, you know, Blanche, the hypersexual one, had a daughter who wanted to have a child but she didn’t have a partner, and she’s like, “I’m a modern woman. I can have a child on my own. So I’m going to get artificially inseminated. I’m going to do this, you know, IVF treatment.” And for a while, it’s like, Blanche is gonna disown her child. She’s like, “This is terrible. I have no child who is going to do this.” And she comes around enough to be supportive, but they still end the episode with the three Golden Girls being like, “Eww. It still gives me the ick.” And it’s like, why?
Tyger: Yeah. It’s just like, you wanted a kid, so there you go. There’s the process. There’s a kid. Right?
Courtney: It’s just another option.
Tyger: Yeah. And obviously, like, Sheldon didn’t want to seem interested in coitus at all. And Amy didn’t actually particularly seem that way in the beginning, either — like she was really interested. Like, Sheldon and Amy were kind of agreed on, like, they wanted each other’s personal space in the relationship. Like, “You have your space. I have my space. You do your thing. I do my thing. We sometimes date, and we’ll come together.”
Tyger: But then, as the show went on, they really wanted to, like, intensify Sheldon and Amy’s relationship. And it just was like… Amy got really, I guess… Like, they frame Amy as, like, the typical girlfriend route, while Sheldon was, like, being the, you know… how do I frame it. Like, Sheldon was being the aloof distant boyfriend. Like, Amy was like, “I want to hang out and date and everything. And I feel, you know, really interested in you.” And they sign a boyfriend/girlfriend, like, agreement on documentation. And, you know, it took a while for Sheldon to sign it, but then Sheldon eventually agrees to sign it, albeit a little reluctantly. So they do end up becoming exclusively a dating item through that.
Tyger: But then as it gets onward and onward, like, Amy gets really frustrated with the relationship. Like, “I would love to have, like, a boyfriend that actually, you know, does things physically with me.” And one episode in particular that really stood out to me was when the group was playing… was it Hunter: The Reckoning? It’s something like that. It was, like, Hunter: The Reckoning; I think it was, like, something like that — you know, an RPG. And we used to play role playing games all the time. And they were playing a relationship. And the rest of the group — you know, Penny, Bernadette, Howard, Leonard, and everybody — tried to get Sheldon and Amy kind of romantically, you know, frisky. And they went into trying to hook each other up into doing it, basically. Like they’re going to… are they going to kiss now in the role playing game?
Tyger: So it went into an entirely different RPG, which is like, “This is not an RPG at all, for one.” [laughs] So Sheldon kind of backs away, because it’s like, okay, this is getting a little too much for him, and it’s just a lot of pressure, for one. But he’s like, “I’m not really sure about this.” And Amy’s like, “They see our relationship as, like, invalid because we’re not kissing, we’re not, you know, having sex or anything. And we’ve been dating for quite a while, and we haven’t done anything together romantically or sexually like that, I guess” — you know, what people think of romantically. Even though they’re romantically involved, they’re dating each other, it’s an exclusive relationship that is romantic, but they’re not doing the quote unquote, “typical boyfriend-girlfriend thing” that’s supposed to follow this scripted timeline.
Tyger: And Amy kind of goes, “Well, I don’t. I really like you.” And, you know, Sheldon goes, “I’ve never even done anything like this in my entire life.” So they kind of play a game individually on their own. And while there’s no kissing or anything, it does show that the two of them have a really exclusive relationship where they can talk and be intimate and share each other’s emotions freely without, you know, getting angry at each other. Which I think, quite frankly, is a real big thing. They never really show that.
Tyger: The show only focuses on, like, physical, sexual affection, but it never really talks about the other forms of intimacy you can have with a person. They devalue that throughout the show. Like, in another episode, they end up having this faux prom because Amy never had a prom, Sheldon never had a problem, most of the guys never had a prom. And while they’re talking about prom nights, there’s a discussion about, like, “Are you ready to do anything with Amy tonight?” Penny kind of hints at it: “Are you ready to do anything? Because you know what happens on prom night, don’t you?”
Tyger: And, like, “What happens?” “Well, you know, prom night. It’s usually, like, night. Most people, you know, do the thing for the first time, right? You know, ‘the thing’ being sex, obviously.” And Sheldon talks to Leonard, and Leonard talks to him and is like, “Well, make sure, before you do the first thing, first time, make sure you protect yourself.” And he goes, “Penny told me that prom night is when, you know, people end up having sex on prom night.” He goes — and Sheldon goes, “Of course, you’re not going to do that. You know you don’t have any feelings like that.” And they kind of play it up like, “Okay, Sheldon, there’s an obligation to… I guess, an obligation to, I guess, go forward with it, you know?” Basically bite the bullet, I guess, in a way. Even though Sheldon does not want to have sex, and has never shown an interest in doing it. Now, it’s like, “You’re going to have to. If you want to be in a relationship, you’ve got to do it.”
Tyger: And something I’ve often heard growing up, which is why I didn’t date when I was younger, because it was like, “If you’ve got to be in a relationship, you do need to put out. Because, you know, that’s an obligation for you. You know, that’s what you have to do. That’s what’s expected of you.” Like, people always treated that — especially growing up in school, like, “You mean you’ve never had sex before, and you’re in college? Like, what are you doing?” Or, “You never had sex in high school? Like, that’s what everyone’s supposed to do! That’s what you’re supposed to do.” That’s what everyone says. It’s like, rite of passage… life. You know? And I was like, “Well, it’s not for me.” And it wasn’t for Sheldon, but it was put on the pressure.
Tyger: And eventually Sheldon ends up having a panic attack. Because when he sees Amy and everything, he panics, and he ends up having to, like, lie down and everything. And he’s just so panicked. And Amy is frustrated, because now Sheldon won’t even, you know, go near her because he’s afraid that if he and Amy get too close, then Amy will want to go further than what he’s comfortable and what’s comfortable with his boundaries. I mean, it’s like… I would almost call it, like, the R-word. You know, the R-word basically was put onto Sheldon. Like, “You gotta do this.” It was like, you know, forcing him into a box, forcing him in a corner with no chance of escaping. And it’s like, how come he can’t just… Their relationship is just good as it is. Why do you need to pressure someone into doing things they don’t want to do? Why do you have to put so much pressure on someone to forcefully obligate them to do that?
Courtney: Yeah, that sounds so uncomfortable. And might I say, I hate the prom thing too. Because I did actually go to prom with a date — a boyfriend at the time. And my only good memories of prom were dancing with my friends who were not my boyfriend. [laughs] But I didn’t actually, like, go home after prom, because I was like, “Why would I go home after prom?” So I stayed out all night. And several people — like, family included — took that as, like, “Oh, well, you two had sex that night.” And I was mortified. I was like, “No! Just because I stayed out all night doesn’t mean sex was what I was doing!”
Tyger: Yeah. Like, true story. My senior year, my parents were wondering if I was going to do prom, and I told them, “Why would I do that? I want to save. That will cost, like, $500 to just get a tux and a limo, and I don’t want to do that.” My parents were like, “You gotta do prom! It’s a once in a lifetime thing!” It was weird, because my family is like, “Don’t have sex. Don’t do all of this.” I grew up in purity culture. And, you know, “You gotta abstain from sex and not do anything, you know, until you’re married,” or whatever. “Don’t have sex out of wedlock. Flee from sexual sin and stay sexually pure.” And all that, you know, “True love waits” stuff, right? Purity rings. And that’s what I grew up in. That’s my culture. But then, like, my senior year, they’re like, “Why aren’t you going to prom?” And I’m like, “Because I don’t want to, and I don’t want to.”
Tyger: Like, I always make the joke with my family — I think I made this joke last time I was on — like, my family was like, “Don’t have sex. Don’t have sex! Abstain from sex! Please don’t!” And I’m like, “Good. I don’t want to do it anyway. And I don’t want to do it at all.” And they didn’t get the point of, like… I guess they were expecting that I would change at some point and end up wanting to, but like, I was being serious the entire time. Like, I don’t want to do any of this at all. Now it’s like, [high-pitched] “Wait! No, no, no! Please don’t! You gotta!” And it’s like, “You didn’t want me to do it in the first place when I was growing up! Now you want me to? Make up your mind!” Make it make sense, right?
Tyger: And so I actually didn’t do prom. I literally spent like, prom night — I think I played video games [laughs] that night. I stayed at home and I played video games. And, you know, that was actually a lot, probably a lot more fun. And I was like, “I saved money. I got to play video games.” It was a good night. [laughs]
Royce: I also skipped prom. I worked at a Walmart my senior year of high school, and I remember management calling everyone who was, you know, 16, 17, 18 back one day as leading up to prom, because they were like, “We know a lot of you’re going to be gone. We need to figure out scheduling.” And I was immediately like, “I got it. [laughing] I can work a shift.”
Tyger: That sounds pretty good. Make extra money.
Royce: Yeah! A few of my classmates came in to, like, buy disposable cameras. I was working in the electronics department. So I saw a few people come in in tuxes and dresses and whatnot. And they were like, “What? You’re working? Why?”
Courtney: [laughs] What I want to know is why people were coming into Walmart.
Tyger: I was like, “I’m making money off of you. That’s what I’m doing.”
Royce: Yeah. The Walmart was… It was right down the street from high school. It was just very conveniently located.
Courtney: And they were what? Picking up Cheetos? [laughs]
Royce: They were picking up disposable cameras.
Tyger: Oh, that’s right.
Tyger: Because they were taking photos.
Courtney: Cameras. That makes more sense. I was like, “What are you getting on prom night?” [laughs] Yeah. So that makes more sense. But yeah, I mean, my prom — I mean, I know everyone thinks it is such a romantic thing. And I was there with a boyfriend. But, I mean, the most valuable experience I had at prom was having, like, my last dance with a friend of mine, who, every time we’d go to school dances, we would find each other and get together and [laughing] we’d have a breakdance battle, because he was, like, the only other guy in school that breakdanced. And so we would always do that, and that was, like, such a fun thing that we’d always have together. And it was just, like, such a cherished memory.
Courtney: And he was actually a year younger than me, so he was dating a senior at the time, and that’s why he was allowed to come. We didn’t do, like, junior prom or anything. It was supposed to be just for seniors and their dates. But he was there, and I was like, “I am so glad that you are dating a senior because we have to have our last dance!” And like, that was my most cherished memory of prom. Like, the boyfriend was totally irrelevant. But it seemed like everything at the time, you know? Because everyone tells you that it’s everything. Like, that’s the pinnacle of romance for a teenager, right?
Tyger: Yeah. I feel like… I guess I’m a little envious of this younger generation, because in a way, when I was growing up, I was growing up with, like, She’s All That and movies like that that were like, being prom queen and prom king was everything. And if you weren’t the prom king or prom queen, you were, like, a loser. Like, I literally just watched, a month ago — because I kind of like Drew Barrymore as a talk show host. So I remember when she did Never Been Kissed, which was… She was playing the character Josie Geller. I actually am writing, like, a little bit of an excerpt about, like, being the real Josie Geller, ’cause I’m the real life one.
Tyger: And she grew up — she had never been kissed by anybody. And she was in high school in, like, the ’80s and ’90s — like, late ’80s. And her nickname was Josie Grossie. And she was being made fun of because she was, like, a, you know, geeky girl who was into, you know, literature. And she could tell you the etymology of the word “pastoral,” which is where I learned it. As, you know, as a trivia geek myself, I find great affinity with people who love, like, etymologies and words and studying language and stuff like that. So I find great affinity with people like that. So she was a huge geeky girl. And people made fun of her for that, because she was a geek, she liked poetry, she liked literature.
Tyger: She got a job at the Chicago Tribune, being an editor, because she loves literature, and she graduated top of her class at Northwestern. But everyone kept making her out to be a loser. Like, you telling me, with all of these accomplishments she’s done in her life — graduating top of her class, graduating college at the top of her class, getting a job with one of the most respectable, reputable newspapers in the country — she’s only a loser because she’s never kissed anybody? [sarcastically] Yeah.
Tyger: And so she goes back to high school. She has to live back high school, which is like, you gotta become one of the popular “in” girls. And, you know, the “in” girls dressed in a way — you know, short skirts and low-cut blouses and stuff like that — which, I never like getting on people for what they wear and stuff like that. But you know, you gotta be one of those “in” girls and a girl that’s willing to do anything physically, you know. And she wasn’t like that. And she was really cool. And it turned out, she didn’t need to do that to find the right person, I guess. ’Cause like, at the end, the guy that she ends up really liking liked herjust as she was, even though it kind of — it gets really complicated and messy. And they end up — finally, at the end — having a kiss right on the middle of a baseball field in front of everybody, because she tells everybody she hadn’t been kissed. But they made her out to be a loser because she’d never kissed anybody.
Tyger: And again, that whole premise leads up to Sheldon, where he hasn’t done anything sexually, and they make him out to be like the weird one of the group because he’s never done anything sexually and physically. It’s like, why is someone having to be, like, the weird person because they’ve never done anything sexually if they’re not interested in that, you know?
Tyger: I remember TLC. I don’t know how many people remember TLC, when they did this, but like, TLC had a television show when I was in college where they did this thing called… It was called The Virgin Diaries. And it was like —
Courtney: Oh, no. [laughing] I haven’t heard of this one.
Tyger: And they were doing, like, profiles of people who were adult virgins and, you know, virgins into their adulthood and stuff like that. Because apparently, you’re supposed to lose your virginity by the time you turn… what, I guess, before you turn 18? Which is — are you sure you really want to put that out there as a thing? I’m just saying. And, you know, there were people who hadn’t had sex before, and they were like, “We need to study these people. We need to follow these people.” Like, and they made them look like they were freaks at a carnival show, basically. Like, “Oh my gosh, look at how, like, socially awkward this person is.”
Tyger: One of them was — like, it was so unbelievably cringe as a show. Just cringeworthy all the way through. One episode, I think, had the couple getting married, and they kissed on their wedding day. They saved their first kiss for the wedding. They end up kissing. And it was the most awkwardly looking kiss you probably could ever see. And I’ve never kissed anybody, so I’m the least likely —
Courtney: So you’re not one to give pointers. [laughs]
Tyger: I’m not one to give advice pointers, because I’ve never kissed anyone either. So, I’m not looking at… I’m sure if I ever did, it probably would be pretty awkward on my end. But yeah. And it made it look like, “Oh, this is so awful. And this is, like, terrible.” And everyone made fun of it, and it went viral, and everyone was talking about it.
Tyger: And it’s like, it was their first kiss on their wedding day. It was their most special day, and y’all are making fun of them for this.
Courtney: Yeah! ’Cause the awkward kiss isn’t the problem. The problem is that you’re making it a spectacle for other people to laugh at.
Tyger: And it’s their choice! Like, it’s their choice. We always talk about people… You know, I wrote about this when I wrote about — my article when I talked about, you know, how even as an Asexual person, I get, still, virgin-shamed. Because, like, now 33 — so I, officially, I guess that makes me the Jesus version, because he died at 33. So I guess that means I really should test out my water —
Courtney: Tyger Songbird is Jesus: confirmed. And he’s telling you to spit on churches. [laughs]
Tyger: Hey! That water might turn into wine. I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding! I’m kidding. I’m kidding. But yeah, I should test that theory out. Maybe see if I can actually literally walk on water now. So, you know, like the basilisk lizard.
Royce: Start with something pretty shallow. Don’t, like, just run across the lake.
Courtney: We’ll fill up a kiddie pool for you, [laughing] when you come to visit us, in the yard.
Tyger: Yeah, so I’ll have to test that out and see if that works now. And then maybe if I can do that, I’ll turn water into wine or something. We could go into business and make a lot of money if I can do that.
Courtney: Yes. Ace wine! We’ll dye it purple!
Tyger: Yeah. Purple. Is there a purple brand of wine? I have no idea. [laughs] I don’t drink, so. See, that’s the thing, though! They made it out to be where, like, I talked about where I was being virgin-shamed as well, because of all of this, which I’ve been experiencing throughout almost all of my life. Because, like, people were trying… I grew up in a school and in a culture where, even in the Bible Belt, people didn’t like to talk about sex, but everyone was doing it.
Tyger: Like, I literally had friends who were, like, teenage moms at, like, 16. So like, people were really clearly doing it, and stuff like that. “You just gotta do it,” and stuff like that. Like, not me. I just don’t want to. I’m sorry. And it just was always my thing. And it’s like, that’s my choice. And I’m not saying my sexuality is a choice, but obviously, I don’t want to. I’m, like, literally sex-repulsed, and I don’t want to engage in sex at all. And I have no inclination of wanting to ever do that. And yet, everyone makes it seem like you have to do that. And it’s just really bizarre and strange to be made fun of for the choice like that.
Tyger: Like, The Virgin Diaries did that. There was another one where a guy was like — his name was Skippy, I think. And I think you could find the videos, clips on YouTube, of the show, and it’s just really cringe. And he’s like… He lives in his mom’s basement, and it’s, like, all the, you know, horrible tropes that people consider a loser. Like, okay, people are now having to live with their parents longer because people can’t afford to live right now, you know? It’s hard to find a house —
Tyger: — in most places, so. And it’s hard to find an employment job that’s paying well to afford a house.
Courtney: Yeah! Well, in any of these individual things that kind of become tropes for, like, “a virgin loser,” quote, quote, quote, heavy quotes, like, any single one of these, like, they are not inherently bad things. Like, living in your parents basement: not a bad thing. Exhibiting Autistic traits: not a bad thing. Being Autistic: not a bad thing. Not wanting to engage in sexual activity: not bad.
Courtney: But for some reason, like, Hollywood and publishing and all of these stories that we’re exposed to put them all together every single time as a big package deal. But not only that, they present it as a bad thing. They don’t present it to, you know, humanize people that maybe do fit into all of these things simultaneously and say, “Hey, there’s nothing wrong with them. They’re wonderful. Like, we can hang with them.” You know?
Courtney: Instead, they’re putting a Sheldon Cooper, and it sounds like they’re very much othering him. Like, he is the nerd among nerds. He’s the geek among geeks. He’s not even, like… It sounds like people are talking about him behind his back all the time, being like, “Oh, we don’t think he really has a deal.” Like, well, have you had a conversation with it about him? [laughing] Like…
Royce: It’s definitely a stereotype. And what is with the mid- to late-2000s repeating that stereotype? Because I just remember the movie 40-Year-Old Virgin with Steve Carell, which was really popular. That was 2005.
Tyger: Ah, yeah.
Royce: I couldn’t remember that movie. It’s been so long. But I read, like, the first line of the plot, and it’s, “A shy 40-year-old introvert who works at electronics store….”
Tyger: Yeah. And what’s really bad about the movie — like, I when I watched The 40-Year-Old Virgin, I think I was 15 or 16. So I remember when it came out, and ugh, I literally had my head sink when I watched it, because I was like, “Oh my gosh, they’re making fun of, like, this person who’s really a rather interesting person, just for the simple fact that he has never had sex.”
Courtney: I’ve also never seen that.
Tyger: If you have a Peacock subscription — like, NBC Peacock — you could probably find it. ’Cause I watched it just recently just to study up on that when I was writing my other article that I’m about to publish. And I’m like, “Ughhh, my gosh, this is really terrible. This is really terrible.” ’Cause they’re making fun of people for not having sex at all, even though that’s, like, not even the biggest part of his personality. They could have highlighted the fact that he loves action figures and collects toys and he loves, you know, riding a bike, which is really, you know, healthy and environmentally friendly. And he works at a job, and he ends up becoming a supervisor at the job. And they only highlight about, you know, “Well the only thing that matters about him is that he has never had sex before. So that obviously means he must be some sort of weird loser, weird reject.” And they treat him like the Dalit, the Untouchables, the — when I say “lepers,” I don’t mean, like, people with leprosy, but like, the way they used to castigate leprosy, like, people would avoid and steer clear of the people because they were worried it would be contagious. Like, “Oh my gosh, this is a really bad thing. I don’t want to get near you.”
Courtney: Horrible history.
Tyger: “Avoid this person,” you know? “Avoid this person. Shun them. Ostracize them from all of the rest of typical,” quote unquote, “‘normal’ human society.” And they treated him like that. Meanwhile, if you watch The 40-Year-Old Virgin, he’s the one with the least problems —
Tyger: — in the entire thing. Paul Rudd plays a guy who can’t get over his ex-girlfriend leaving him, and she’s — they’ve broken up for two years.
Courtney: Oh, dear.
Tyger: Seth Rogen’s character plays a dude who literally had sex with a woman who was in a bathtub, and was trying to have sex with, like, half of an entire room once, and ends up one time even bragging about going to Tijuana to watch a really lurid thing that I’m not gonna go into further, but like, he’s got weird, really weird, super weird problems of his own.
Tyger: And then his other friend Jay, who is the one Black person in the group, he can’t stop cheating on his baby mama. And his baby mama keeps hunting him down and keeps wondering why he is going every day. And he ends up having issues with working on the job. And they all work in a store. And the boss, who was played by Jane Lynch — who I love, because she hosts The Weakest Link now —
Courtney: Does she now? I didn’t know that!
Tyger: Yes, The Weakest Link on NBC. So, yeah. That’s one of my favorites.
Courtney: I don’t think I’ve seen that show since…
Tyger: Oh, you have to watch it.
Courtney: Has it been around since the ’90s, or was it, like, early 2000s? I think I saw the original host.
Tyger: The original was Anne Robinson in the 2000s. And then —
Courtney: “You are… the weakest link.”
Tyger: “... the weakest link. Goodbye!”
[Tyger and Courtney laugh]
Courtney: “Goodbye!” Yeah, it came on, like, right after Who Wants to Be a Millionaire when it was still, like, Regis Philbin.
Tyger: Yeah. Oh, man. You’re dating me. I love it so much.
Tyger: It’s nostalgia about all my favorite game shows. But they’re coming back! And, yeah, Jane Lynch hosts the new Weakest Link. She’s in the show. And she is just… As a boss, she’s kind of out there. It’s like, she literally talks, one time, about one time having sex with a gardener boy in Mexico and can’t stop reminiscing about it. And out of all the people that he works with, Steve Carell’s character, Andy Stitzer, is the one that’s the one that people should least be concerned with. And it’s like, he has a job. He rides his bike to work, so he stays healthy; he’s in great shape by doing that. He collects toys and action figures from vintage.
Tyger: And literally when he meets Trish — Trish is a grandma now and she’s in her 40s. And to be honest with you, meeting him was the best thing that ever happened to her, because she’s got a young daughter — which was, shockingly, played by Kat Dennings, who was on Two Broke Girls, which is pretty interesting — she’s got a young daughter that’s, like, all out there. And to be honest with you, before they met, they were in an instable relationship. He actually helped stabilize their relationship, because one day, he takes her to go to the free clinic to talk about, you know, birth control and all that. And they end up having, like, a sit-down conversation about, like, sex and all that with a, you know, certified sex educator.
Tyger: And it turns out, she finds out he’s a virgin. It’s like, “That was pretty cool that you actually stepped up to admit that. And I thank you for that.” Because she was still a virgin at 17, so it actually made her feel like she wasn’t the only one. Which actually kind of helped her be able to say no to her current boyfriend, who was trying to pressure her into, you know, doing it as well. So, in a way, that was really interesting on that end.
Tyger: And then, at the end, they end up getting married. And the wedding is completely paid for because Andy collects toys. So he was able to sell just a couple of vintage action figures, and they paid for a lavish wedding.
Tyger: He ends up becoming the boss of the electronics store. So you’re telling me that this person who had never had sex before… Yes, he needed to maybe grow out of his shell a little bit, but sex was not the thing that grew him out of his shell. He ended up just being a great person. He just needed to find his own person. They could have focused on that rather than everything else about not having sex, which… It just was like, “Ah! You missed it.”
Courtney: Yeah! It’s so interesting. Because, like, whether or not there’s an argument to be made about if that character is on an Ace spectrum, I think that’s irrelevant. But when it comes to the Ace rep and the Ace-coded characters —
Courtney: I always wonder, “Why is everybody emphasizing the one thing that people in our community de-emphasize?” Because regardless of where you are on the Ace spectrum — whether you’re, like, on my side, and sounds like your side as well, where it’s like, repulsed, don’t like it, don’t need it, or if you’re in a Gray or Demi area where, you know, once conditions are met, you are all for it and can and do even enjoy sexual activity — one thing that unites all of us is that we do de-emphasize sex. We don’t think it is the end-all be-all. We refuse the compulsory sexuality put on us by society, in whatever way is our own. And so if we’re de-emphasizing this thing and saying, “Hey, this is not —”
Courtney: “— essential to my humanity, why does everyone else go, like, ‘That’s the thing that we’re going to fixate on’? ‘That’s the thing that’s weird and wrong about you’?” [laughs]
Tyger: Yeah. It’s the compulsory sexuality feature, where it’s treated as sex is the pinnacle, or the hallmark of human experience. Like, “You have to have sex.” And it’s like, why is that? That’s what gets at me. Especially when we bring it back to Sheldon; that’s what they make it out to be. But Sheldon and Amy’s relationship, out of all of the relationships, probably has a lot of the same most normal parts of it, because they’re able to have, like, deep conversations about just things in general.
Tyger: And yes, Sheldon and Amy did break up at one point in the middle of the relationship. They end up getting back together in the relationship because there just isn’t, you know… they just still really care about each other in a way that never had been done before. For Sheldon, one time, he ends up talking and he ends up missing Amy so much, he even shows that he was going to propose to Amy at one point, because he was just falling in love at that point. And it was like, “Okay, he’s in love, and it doesn’t require sex.” You could have focused on that part! And that would have been even okay, like, you can have love without sex. But they still had to throw in the sexual equation, just like The Virgin Diaries did, just like The 40-Year-Old Virgin did.
Tyger: Like, these people in The Virgin Diaries… Everyone made fun of them for being weird, but they could have just shown any person, and they just had to focus on, like, the outliers or people that were like, “What can get us the most television shock value? What can get us the most attention and make people, like, engage and watch, and we can make them, you know, look weird?” And people like to look at weird and cringe like it’s watching a train wreck happen. And they did that with, like, all the characters. Like, there are so many other, like, virgins out there that exist, and I’m sure — I hope I will put myself in that boat — are just, like, regular people that you just meet on the street, and you can’t tell who’s who. Like, “virgin”’s a social construct. And you can’t tell who’s a virgin anyway, because, like, the old script of who’s a virgin and all that, like… what counts, for one, or, you know, and the bleeding on the wedding night, and stuff like that — you know, the whole thing of, “Take the old bedsheets and show if there was blood on them, and if she didn’t lead, she wasn’t a virgin,” it’s like —
Courtney: Well, and also just the, like… What I will say traumatized me growing up — and I’m sure I’ll talk about this more in the future — was the notion that gets into media that people can tell the day after you have sex. Like, someone just walks into a room, and everyone’s like, “Oh-ho-ho! Someone got lucky tonight! I can tell! You’re glowing. You have an aura about you that just exudes ‘I had sex recently.’” And that concept, I was like, “No. Absolutely not. I can never have sex. Because if I’m going to walk into a room and people are going to be like, ‘I know you had sex last night,’ that seems so creepy and wrong, and [laughing] I don’t want any part of that.”
Tyger: Yeah, I think my glow comes because of the cocoa butter lotion that I use and apply.
Tyger: So, that probably is why I glow, so.
Courtney: We take care of our skin around here. We are moisturized.
Tyger: Yeah, moisturization is important, especially with my conditions, so. I have eczema, so I really have to keep my skin moist all the time, so. Interestingly, like, they focused on that with Sheldon, and as the relationship grew on, that episode with the prom — because going back to that — they end up, Sheldon comes out of his panic attack and tells Amy exactly how he feels about her. Like, “I really do like you. I think you’re really pretty. I really do want to be with you. But I’m not wanting to do that.” And Amy’s like, “We don’t have to do that. And I never wanted to do that. I never asked you to do that, you know? But I do want to have a boyfriend who will dance with me and will hold me when we dance.” And they ended up going to prom that night, and they danced and they had a good time. And that was a date, and it was a special night for both of them, and it didn’t require sex whatsoever. And it could have just made it about that. And it just continually, continually, continually trying to push the ball down the field, trying to make it seem like, “We’re going to try to get them to have sex as badly as we can possibly do it.” And it’s just like, [sarcastically] okay.
Tyger: Then it leads, as time goes on, to season nine. And season nine, Sheldon and Amy are back together and they are discussing… and the episode is “The Star Wars Episode.” And Star Wars, the new Star Wars, comes out, and they’re like, “We’re gonna get tickets to Star Wars: Rogue One! We’re gonna go watch it! And we’re gonna stand in…” You know how people were, like, lined up for blocks to just get a ticket to go see the premiere? I had friends who went to the premiere — got tickets months in advance to go see Star Wars, and it’s like, “We’re gonna go watch it.” And being a teacher, getting tickets [laughs] for an expensive deal. That’s a lot. That’s a lot!
Tyger: Speaking of the whole living at your home thing, I’ll go back into that. On a side note, there’s a, now, new thing about teachers having to be provided affordable housing or apartments on school campuses now. Because teachers can’t even afford to live in the districts they work in. And everybody knows teachers get paid jacksquat in this nation. Pay teachers more!
Courtney: Yeah! Yep, agreed.
Tyger: As a teacher, please pay teachers more! I quit teaching this year, and I’m still looking for employment, but I quit teaching this year. And when I started teaching, I made, like, $40,000 with a master’s degree. I made $41,000 bucks.
Courtney: With such a stressful and important job, too! That’s wild.
Tyger: In my area, I couldn’t afford to live on my one income on my own. There’s just no way. I wouldn’t be able to. Just another thing. But back to “The Star Wars Episode.” So on the same subsequent Star Wars premiere date, it’s Amy’s birthday. And Amy and Sheldon are back together, and Sheldon is like, “Well, I want to go see Star Wars. It’s… it’s Star Wars! I can’t miss Star Wars!” And Sheldon ends up having a dream where it’s like, “Well, you can always go see Star Wars, but you only get so many birthdays with this girl. You gotta go be with this girl.” And, you know, he does agree to do the boyfriend thing, and “I’m gonna go out on a date with her and go out with her.”
Courtney: Why don’t they go on a date to Star Wars is what I want to know.
Tyger: Well, I guess she’s not into it as much.
Courtney: Ah, okay.
Tyger: But yeah. He spends his birthday with Amy. And Sheldon comes up with the idea… When he was talking with Penny and Bernadette about, like, “What would Amy like to do?” And he said, “I came up with a couple ideas.” And then he says, at the end, “I do have one idea, which is I’ll have coitus with her.” And everyone gets shocked.
Courtney: [laughing] Is that how he says it?
Tyger: And everyone gets shocked. I think Penny breaks a glass, breaks a wineglass, because of the shock of, like, “Oh my gosh!” Bernadette’s like, “Okay, so we had this thing, this thing,” and Bernadette says, “The wild thing.” And then it’s like, okay. “But that’s, like, that’s a huge step forward for you. That’s a lot coming your way. Are you sure you’re ready for this?” And he goes, “Well, it’s a lot for me, but I know she really wants to, so I’ll do it for her.”
Tyger: And they end up… You know, they end up telling Amy, saying, “Sheldon wants… Sheldon said that he wants to, you know, do the deed for your birthday tonight.” And Amy’s just jumping for joy. “You gotta be —” And it goes, “You shut your mouth.” [laughs] And they agree to do some of the preparation work. I’m not gonna go into, like, all the preparation that they do. It involves a wax; I’ll just say that.
Tyger: So they end up agreeing. And the birthday is spent with them, you know, doing it. I guess, considerably, both of them were losing their virginity to each other that night. It was kind of hilarious, because Sheldon’s like, “I really need to get this down in writing that you fully agree and consent to this right now.”
Tyger: “So I’m gonna go get a contract. Let me print this contract out so I can make sure that you fully consent to what’s going to happen,” right? And so Amy’s like, “Just don’t.” [laughs] And they end up… And it was their first night. And his friend, meanwhile, Raj, Howard, and Leonard go to watch Star Wars without him. And they’re in this movie theater — which is pretty interesting, because they got Wil Wheaton from Star Trek. [laughing] So Wil Wheaton showed up in his Star Trek suit, and the Star Trek and Star Wars beef was on in the movie theater. Like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Live long, suck it.”
[Courtney and Tyger laugh]
Tyger: Which was pretty awesome. So they end up watching the movie theater. And they show the reactions of everybody after watching it. And then everyone’s kind of sit back like, you know, lay back like it was some sort of, like, moment of the greatest ecstasy ever, like it was the best —
Courtney: Life-changing. [laughs]
Tyger: — one of those earth-shattering experiences. They ended up doing it, but it was like, Amy was super nervous, like, “I’ve never done this before.” “Well, neither have I. I guess we’ll learn together.” And it was supposed to be, like, this really great moment. And flash forward, like, hours later, said, “Wow, that was a lot more fun than I thought.” It was, like, hours later, and Amy’s sitting there with their hair all unkempt and like, [breathy] “Yeah. Yeah.” Just like it was something… Like, they framed it as, like, sex was, like, this ultra amazing thing — like, the best thing since sliced bread. He was like, “Finally I had sex. It was so glorious. It was so wonderful. It was majestic.”
Courtney: Which is so interesting. Because I feel like media always does that. Like, “Oh, I had sex the first time and it was wonderful.” But I feel like everybody I know in person who has shared, like, their feelings about their first time has been like, “Yeah, the first time is bad. The first time is, like, bland and boring at best. It’s…” Like, allos have described it to me as, like, something you need to practice and know yourself and know your partner before things actually, like, “get good,” for whatever that means. And it’s like, I don’t think I see that in media where people are like, “The first time was, like, ehh.” [laughs]
Tyger: Yeah. It’s so often like pedestalized as, like, this, you know, ultimate world experience that everyone has to partake in, because it’s like, otherwise you’re not living life to the fullest. You’re not, like, living and being an actualized human; you know, to quote, like, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you’re not being a “self-actualized person.” And it’s just one of those things… This continually gets built up. And then they’re like, I remember in so many instances… Like, I remember an MTV one. There was another MTV one, like Virgin Stories, when one couple was, like, losing their virginity to each other, and they didn’t really describe it as too great. And I was like, “Okay. It wasn’t that great.” And it was kind of, you know, keeping it a little bit honest. But the rest of it was like, “This is what wild people do. This is what — you know, if you want to be wild, and you want to be, you know, daring and audacious and bold and live a little,” and, you know, stuff like that, “then you gotta involve sexual trysts.” And it’s like, [sighs] okay, here we go again.
Courtney: What is so daring and bold and wild about it if it’s something that’s, like… I assume for like virgins’ first time, that it’s pretty vanilla and probably in the privacy of their own bedroom? And I just want to know what’s actually adventurous and wild about that?
Royce: It seems very commonplace.
Royce: Like, everyone’s doing it, right? That’s what they’re saying?
Tyger: Yeah, if everyone’s doing it, you know, if everybody’s doing it, you would think the countercultural thing would be to not do it. That’s nonconformist as it can get.
Royce: All of those daring, wild Ace people out there.
Tyger: That’s what we are, baby! We daring. We bold. We audacious.
Courtney: We’re really just punks. We’re just sex punks. We’re like, “Yeah, eff the system, [laughs] but not in that way.” Fuck the system, but not in that way.
Tyger: Yeah. Yeah. Just living my life is apparently a protest. [laughs] Just being myself is a protest. That’s really awesome. You know, that’s really awesome, well, you made it when you… just, my life is just a protest that way. I’m just living and being myself, you know, being my Asexual self, and I’m just being me. And that’s a protest. But it’s just — that sort of thing always gets framed in that way. And they framed it in that way. Like, the relationship somehow became super official after that moment. Like, they sealed the deal.
Tyger: They were already an item. They were already in a relationship with each other. That didn’t make or break that. That night didn’t, like, seal the deal, make or break it. And I’m not saying that in a way, like… I know, for some people, sex really does matter to them. And I’m not saying that, like, to diminish that for them. Like, “Oh, you’re wrong to think, like, sex is not a big deal to you.” Or, you know, whatever. I’m not saying that. But it’s like, for people like me — like, Aces like me — it isn’t. It isn’t that big of a deal to me. Like, I would literally say, I would do almost anything else. Like, how do I frame this? I don’t like pizza rolls. I think they’re gross. I literally gag at the sight of pizza rolls.
Tyger: Like, I can’t eat them. I can’t even look at them. But I don’t, you know, look at people who like eating pizza rolls or something like that and go, “You’re disgusting to me.” I don’t think lesser of them. It’s just like, that’s my preference. I don’t like them. You good. Go ahead. That’s not my thing. It’s just like, you know, I typically — and this is gonna come out a little weird — I typically eat salad with no salad dressing. I don’t put any salad dressing on salad. I could just eat it plain. And the only, like, salad dressing I’ve probably ever used would be like a raspberry vinaigrette.
Tyger: And that’s all I can actually use. But everything else — like, for one, is high in sodium, for one, and high in fat when it’s ranch, but like, I don’t particularly like eating that. And I particularly like eating it plain because it tastes better to me. But a lot of people look at that and will be like, “That’s really nasty. How could you possibly eat salads with no dressing?” I don’t eat sandwiches either. I don’t particularly like sandwiches. I don’t like mayonnaise. But some people like mustard. Some people like mayonnaise. And yet no one — people from the mustard crowd shouldn’t shame people who like mayonnaise, and people from the mayonnaise crowd shouldn’t shame people who like mustard. There’s just difference, you know? We’re just different. There’s individual variance with that.
Courtney: What’s your opinion on pizza bagels?
Tyger: The same. Sorry.
Courtney: I… Okay, we need to study this now, actually. [laughing] Because we’ve got another Ace who hates pizza bagels. [laughs]
Courtney: Twoflower, yes. There’s a game developer who… We covered Arcade Spirits, and we’re actually going to have him on the podcast, also; we’ve also sat down to speak to him. So that’s coming soon, if it hasn’t already; I don’t know when this episode is going out. But, yeah, there’s this running joke where there’s an advertisement, and this, you know, robotic figure says, like, “Did you know if you have pizza on a bagel, you can have pizza anytime?” And it’s this big running gag with pizza bagels. But the developer doesn’t actually like pizza bagels. [laughing] And that’s, like, kind of the joke. Like, I actually don’t like pizza bagels, but everyone else seems to.
Tyger: I actually particularly don’t eat bagels in general, so I — no offense to people who like bagels. Like, I don’t do the bagels, especially with the cheese and all of that. Like, I’m not a big cheese person. And it’s just like, yeah, I’m just not interested. So, no pizza bagels. If I wanted a pizza, I’d just rather eat a pizza, like, a full pizza. [laughs]
Courtney: So, I’m going to say, with my very, very scientific studies and observations, that Aces are less likely to consume alcohol and less likely to consume pizza bagels.
Tyger: Oh, yeah.
Courtney: That’s my assertion.
Tyger: Yeah, there actually is a study on that — like, Aces are less likely to consume alcohol. You could throw me into that list. I am —
Tyger: — a complete teetotaler. I have never drank. Like, when I mentioned I was never the wild, you know, crazy teenager, all my friends were, like, trying to pressure me into drinking. So I have years of experience with, like, pressure and being pressured into things. So, like, all my friends tried to get me to drin. They used to take me to bars and stuff like that when I was in college. Like, “Okay, well, let’s see if you want to drink.” And I was just like, “Just get me a water, please. Just water. Like, I don’t want anything else.” I go to trivia bars now and I don’t drink. My friends drink. They’re much more respectful now, where they don’t, like, try to force me to drink, and all that. But they drink, and I’m like, “That’s cool. You get your drinks. I’m just not going to.” I’ve never been into drinking. I just don’t do it.
Tyger: And I’ve never been into smoking, whether that’s, you know, smoking marijuana or cigarettes or whatever. I’ve never smoked a day in my life. I’ve always been seen as, like, the weird one, because it’s like, “You’ve never smoked? You’ve never smoked marijuana? You ever done weed before? You mean to tell me you’ve never done that before? How? You never drank before?”
Courtney: “How dare you not have vices?”
Tyger: “How dare you not drink? How have you not ever had alcohol? Like, you’ve never done drugs? Never gotten drunk or anything? Like, and you don’t have sex, so you don’t drink, you don’t smoke, you don’t have sex. Like, what’s wrong with you?” And it’s, you know, that same way, it’s always framed in that capacity.
Tyger: And it’s like, with Sheldon, it’s always seen in that capacity, that finally, he I guess agrees — even if it’s not something he’s enthusiastic about doing. He just does it because Amy wants to, you know? Just to make his partner happy. You know, finally, they feel like it’s, like, making Sheldon seem like a normal person and seeing, like, he’s rather, you know… Like, “Oh, wow, finally, we can relate.”
Tyger: And it’s like, I actually was really upset at the show, because I actually wanted Sheldon to not have sex. Because I thought it would have made the show, like, a lot better. It’s like, “Oh, no. Please don’t try to convert Sheldon, because Sheldon doesn’t need to.”
Tyger: This was going on around the time with like… There were serial killers coming out with, like, virgin killers. I don’t know if people ever heard this story. Like, Elliot Rodger. He was this incel from Santa Barbara, and he was the Santa Barbara Killer. And he was an incel guy who described himself as a “kissless virgin”; he’d never kissed and he’d never had sex. And he went on a killing spree because he was just so angry because people framed it in a way of… Like, oh, they called him the “Virgin Killer” because that was, like, the tagline with him. It’s like, first of all, you’re making it sound like they’re serial killers turning virgins. And there were many more after. And there was one in, like, Oregon, and another one somewhere else, and the one in Toronto was a serial killer. And they were all, like, incel, like, virgin serial killers. And it’s like, you’re making it sound like people who don’t have sex turned into serial killers as if they’re somehow… they’re pathology to staying a virgin for so long when it’s not.
Courtney: Yeah. Which, we also have, like, Dexter, because we talked about that show as well. He was completely uninterested in sex, and then they also decided to change that as they decided to give him more emotions and humanize him, so that’s an issue. But the incel thing, like… I see people say, like, “Aces don’t exist; they’re just incels.” And that’s such dangerous rhetoric. Because even a very recent shooting — I didn’t see this get publicized widely in the mainstream news sites, but some independent journalists dug into sort of the internet activity of a recent mass shooter. And there was a lot of incel rhetoric there, in talking about how, you know, “Men are kind of owed sex, and if they don’t get sex, then women aren’t owed protection,” and just, like, vile things like that.
Tyger: Yeah. And the other thing about it is, it puts pressure on people who are virgins, or haven’t had sex, and it makes them feel even worse about themselves. Like, you’re making someone feel bad about themselves for no reason. Like, whatever you’re doing sexually doesn’t tell about, like, the kind of person you are, what kind of human kindness you have, what kind of, you know, generosity that person has. Like, that doesn’t tell anything about that person, obviously. But it seems like, you know, that one thing, people want to make it seem like you are somehow a, like, either insane or someone who is a potential murderer or some sort. It’s like Hello!
Courtney: Someone who would do harm to others, yeah.
Tyger: Yeah. Like, someone to steer clear of. It’s like, that’s a red flag. Like, you have red flags on you. It’s like, for what purpose? This person hasn’t done anything to deserve that. Like, they haven’t done anything to deserve being treated in any such way possible. And by the way, the whole serial killer thing? The Grim Sleeper killed prostitutes he had sex with. No one said anything about, you know, people who had sex being potential serial killers. Or Ted Bundy, and he was killing people. Or look at John Wayne Gacy. He literally had sex with the corpses.
Courtney: Well, they also do… like, media paints the same nefarious picture for trans identities as well. Like going back to Psycho is a really, really well-known example of, you know, vilifying trans women because the representation in media doesn’t show a genuine, authentic trans woman. It shows this nefarious picture of a crazed male who is confused and mentally ill and is going to inflict harm on others. Which is wrong on so many accounts, because also, then, you have the issue of people thinking that mental illness is inherently dangerous. And if someone does have some type of mental illness or some other type of disability or neurodivergence, it doesn’t mean they’re gonna be a killer. It doesn’t mean they’re going to harm people. And yet, people will be like, “Oh, well, you know, watch out for the crazy people.” And it’s all just… Media needs to do better all around.
Tyger: Yeah. The other thing about it is, with all of those killers, it was never their virginity that was the problem. It was never that. Because, I mean, it just isn’t. It was all about… they didn’t want to talk about the reasonings behind the killings. Like, the incel MRA world that was, you know, talking about, like, pickup artistry and stuff like that, and these guys were turning killers because they were feeling like they were entitled to having sex with women. Like, “They should have been with me,” you know? “I’m a nice guy, and they should be with me because I’m nice. And they just choose all these horrible, dirtbag men,” and stuff like that, “and then they don’t want to be with anyone else.” And it’s like, you often hear this, all the time.
Tyger: And especially with the incel your, was like Asexual men, like, people don’t even believe Asexual men, because it, like, feeds into the stereotype of, like, “All men are just…” Like, again, hate calling this out, but “like dogs in heat,” you know? “All they want to do is just get sex.” And, you know, the old song, “All I want to do is zoom-zoom and boom-boom.” You know? The old hip hop song. Like, okay, that’s all guys think about. Like, the whole stereotype of “Men think about sex every six seconds,” right? Well, not every guy is like that, and not every guy wants to be, you know, involved sexually. And then they made Sheldon basically have to fit into that. And then they basically —
Tyger: — took him from a guy who could have just been complete as a person being single and wanting to just be scientific, and then had to make them into this, “Well, we gotta make him seem like, you know, character developed. Like, he’s not developing.” It was the same thing with Sherlock. Sherlock was, you know, a genius, and he never had any relationship. He just didn’t care about them, you know? You know, David J. Bradley did a video, and I’m completely agreeing with them that Sherlock is most certainly Asexual.
Courtney: Oh, yeah. He is, like, one of the most famously sexless, like, media characters in all of history. [laughs]
Tyger: Yeah. When I wrote my first, like, mega-tweet — because I’m known for my mega-tweets, always — when I wrote about that, the BBC creator of Sherlock, Steven Moffat, said, “Well, we couldn’t make Sherlock be Asexual, because what story would be there —”
Tyger: “ — if he were.” It’s just like, “There wouldn’t be any tension in the story.” It’s like, for crying out loud, dude!
Courtney: It’s also so lazy. To me, it is such lazy character development to say, “This character’s development that our entire plot is going to hinge around is ‘doesn’t have sex’ to ‘now has sex.’ It’s an activity.” So if you’re just saying “This person didn’t used to do this activity, and now they do this activity,” that is lazy. You’re just assuming that everybody watching is going to impose a broader meaning, a more significant meaning, to the activity than is really inherently there.
Tyger: Or that they’re more valuable as a person because they do have sex. Like, oh, well, they’re now, like, a real person, or… It’s really lazy writing, because it’s like, do you really think that the only thing that really matters are that people can’t have lives outside of sex in the bedroom?
Tyger: You think people don’t have… People can live a full life without it. And it’s like, there are so many other things people do besides having sex. I’m sure even people who have sex don’t have sex all day.
Courtney: Yeah, of course. [laughs]
Tyger: I’m sure they have to do a lot of different activities throughout their day than just have sex. It’s not like they just have sex 24 hours.
Courtney: Right. And what they’re really doing is they’re relying on their audience to assume that sex also inherently means something that is deeper than the activity itself. Which, in real life, sometimes it can be for people. It can be vulnerability. It can be showing trust to your partner. It can be showing these different things. But it isn’t always. And we know it isn’t always in real life, too, because people have casual sex, people have one night stands. It doesn’t mean you are a better person for doing it. So, if you aren’t showing it in other ways, then it’s, to me, it’s lazy character development! It really is.
Tyger: Yeah. On that same end, it’s… like, being an Asexual guy — and I don’t wanna make it, you know, gender, ’cause I know there are hardly any Asexual characters, period, in stories. So let’s just get to the getting characters in. But like, the difference between Todd and Sheldon… The years of growth since, like, it was 2018 when, I think, Todd came out as Asexual — something like 2018, 2017. So some years had come between Sheldon and Todd.
Tyger: But like, to show a full Asexual guy who does not require sex? That is as much against the grain as most could possibly ever imagine. Because everybody tends to think, like, “All men do this,” or “Men are dogs.” You know, “Men can’t help but cheat.” And I was growing up in the era where politicians were having sexting scandals and cheating on their wives and stuff like that. And it’s like, “Oh, men can’t help it. And men just… all men think about is sex,” and stuff like that. It’s like, no, We can make it so that… You know, there are people who don’t feel that pressure.
Tyger: And especially as an Asexual guy, I would’ve been over the moon to have an Asexual character as a guy, because it would’ve made it seem like, “Okay, I don’t have to feel that pressure either.” You know? For me, growing up, it felt like I was under just immense pressure.
Tyger: Not only being Asexual, I’m also a guy, I’m also African-American. And the stereotypes of being a Black guy just comes with — which I’m writing in my book — just comes with stereotypes of “All Black men just do is have sex and lay around,” and, you know, all that. And it’s just like, libertine, and, you know, libertine people. That’s what we are kind of seen as. Like, satyrs. And it’s like, having an Asexual guy as a character would’ve been just amazing for me, because it would’ve finally made it seem like, “Okay, you don’t have to be like every other guy that they say you have to be. You don’t have to be that stereotype. There are different ways.” And that there’s, “You could actually, you know, live and have a full existence as a guy and not feel the pressure to have to be that stereotype or be what the media says you have to be. You can be what you want to be or what you feel authentically.”
Tyger: And being an Asexual guy is authentic to me. I could have been that, and I’d still be within my own skin. I would’ve felt much more comfort within my own skin as a teenager, as a young adult, all the way up in my mid-twenties, trying to discover myself. I would’ve been much more comfortable in my skin much earlier when I was feeling, quite frankly, many days, like I was going psycho.
Courtney: Well, and the thing is, too, since you mentioned Todd, there were so many things that they did well. And I mean, I won’t go into all of it, ’cause we did two episodes on how much we loved Todd. But the difference between a Todd and a Sheldon is that Todd had so much character development that was around finding himself, finding his sexuality. Putting down healthy boundaries with a toxic friend. Being a phenomenal friend to every single person in his life. There was literally an episode that was about, like, “Todd is the best person in the world because he does so many things for so many people.” And the humor of Todd’s Asexuality, whenever it was used for humor, the humor wasn’t on Todd as the weird one. The humor was on all of the sexual people in his life making bad decisions, having unhealthy sex lives, not understanding something that was… Like, they almost played Todd occasionally as the straight man in those situations. Which was funny, ’cause he was, earlier, the wacky comic relief. And I thought that was a beautiful subversion. But it sounds like, from what you’re describing with Sheldon, that the comedy was supposed to come from, “Look at this really weird dude. Why isn’t he more normal?”
Tyger: Yeah. For one, Aaron Paul still gets fan mail, and he says he was honored to represent the Ace community in such a positive way, and I really thank him for that. I really do. Like, if I met him, I probably would hug him —
[Tyger and Courtney laugh]
Tyger: — and say thank you, because finally seeing him was such a huge moment just for Asexual people everywhere, including me. Most especially, I would say myself. But they also had in, like, the writer’s room, Echo Gillette, who is an artist and illustrator, and she’s Ace as well. They had her in the newsroom kind of to help write the storylines for Todd, and she played one of Todd’s girlfriends in the story to kind of help with Todd. And it was really great that they included Ace people in their writer rooms.
Courtney: Right. I actually don’t know if Echo did any of the writing, but I do know that they actually reached out to an Ace group that was local to them in Los Angeles. And there was an Asexual member of the community who was brought on to consult. When they knew they wanted to make Todd Asexual, that was the first thing they did — from, like, season… what was it? Three, maybe?
Tyger: Yeah, three. Yeah. Season three.
Courtney: And there’s actually an interview with that community member in the book Ace Notes by Michele Kirichanskaya. And that was really good to read, because I had heard whispers like, “Yes, they did reach out to the Ace community,” but it was really nice to be able to put, like, a face and a name, and like, “This is the person that was actually helping to develop this character.” I love that they did that. I think that more people need to do that if they’re going to represent a group of people that they don’t have firsthand experience with.
Tyger: Yeah. Big Mouth did the same thing. They had a consulting group they reached out. But it was just one episode. Same thing with Florence from Sex Education. That was one episode, and they reached out, I think, to an Asexual, like, consulting group to try to get some of the story. But it was such a small snippet. So to have Todd be a full character with episodes and a long series and a long storyline and a character arc, that was really big.
Tyger: With Sheldon, it was just so poorly done. At the end — to, you know, complete the story — Sheldon and Amy do get married, which is… It was done in a well done ceremony. And they both ended up being together, and they were together ’til the end of the show. And I think Sheldon and Amy both win a Nobel Prize at the end, and they go to Stockholm, Sweden to accept the award. And Sheldon goes to thank all of his friends, who are all in attendance, and thanks them and shows that.
Tyger: But in a way, while they were framing it as Sheldon being, like, cold, distant, aloof, and then at the end, he turned, you know… at the end, he shows his, you know, warmth and, you know, loving side to all of his friends, and his kind, genuine, you know, kind, gentle nature, you know, to him. It still framed it in a way that made it seem like, without Amy, he wouldn’t have been able to make it. And it’s like, maybe it’s a little bit more Aromantic, the Aromantic side of me, but it’s just like, Sheldon didn’t need anybody to complete him. He wasn’t looking.
Tyger: He wasn’t looking for someone —
Tyger: — to complete him. He was looking to just live his life and live it well and be happy in it. And it’s like, he wasn’t looking for someone to… But they framed it as, like, Amy humanized him. She completed him. She rounded out the rough edges, you know, smoothed out the rough edges of him.
Courtney: Yeah! And I don’t like that, especially when there are so many traits of his that, even though they said he was not Autistic, it sounds like he was very Autistic-coded. And with, you know, the regimented eating and the scheduling and even the robotic nature, you know, there are some people on the Autism spectrum that are that way, but that’s not a flaw with them that is to be fixed. If someone is friends with someone who doesn’t sort of emote in the way you might expect them to, that’s not a problem on them to learn how to emote better; that’s a problem on you to learn how to still, you know, love and interact and interface with this person in a healthy way. And so it sounds like the character development needed to be on the other people, not him.
Tyger: Yeah. I always say like this. I don’t like going back to this, but when I was working with my students with Autism — when I was a para and then I became a teacher – I always said it like this: They don’t need to change. You need to change how you understand them.
Tyger: Okay? That’s how I always said it. ’Cause they don’t need to change. They’re fine. We just need to change how we understand them. I always live by this statement or phrase, it’s like, “Life’s like a paradise. So watch who you roll with.” You learn and you grow with the people who you hang around with. And they could have made Sheldon and Amy just be friends, and it would’ve been fine. Like, okay, you know, my friends, I grow with them. But they make it seem like the romantic relationship was the only thing that changed Sheldon. He could have changed due to his friends — like, Leonard, Howard, Raj, Penny. They’ve changed him a lot, you know? But they didn’t frame it in that way. You know, they were significant in his life. I mean, they hung out for years together. And that could have been seen as a significant relationship. The idea that the only significant relationship… ’cause, you know, I just literally just… my grandma died a few weeks ago, which, you know, sadly.
Courtney: Yeah. Condolences. I didn’t know that.
Tyger: Yeah. But going to the funeral, there were so many people who came to my grandma’s funeral, because she’d done so many, like, favors for people in her life. She used to be a caterer. She would cater, like, weddings where people wouldn’t have much money. And I used to work her weddings, so she would cater these weddings. And people were coming by to be like, “I remember your grandma because she did our wedding, and I really thank you, ’cause we didn’t have much money.” Like, literally, she catered my brother and my sister-in-law’s wedding and did it just pro bono, no money asked, just did it for the goodness of her heart, ’cause she was so happy for my brother.
Courtney: Aww, she sounds so sweet.
Tyger: Yeah. And that was… My brother was living, at one point, living homeless, at one point, when they were dating, and she just did it out of pro bono goodness of her heart, “Just let me take care of catering for the wedding, and I will make the food.” And my grandma made some amazing food, some of the best chicken wings you would ever eat, but I know — if you’re vegan — I know, Courtney, you’re vegan, so that’s off the menu. But we did have a lot of other food. It was really good food.
Courtney: I believe it. I believe it.
Tyger: And she would make seven-layer cakes and stuff like that. And she was really, really good at that. And the people that she impacted came by her life and saw her — came back to see her on her funeral, and were back to say thank you. And people were treating that as somehow, you know… But the only thing that you say in a card is who is her significant other. Well, does that mean marriage? And that’s the only thing people treat that as. It’s like marriage….
Tyger: So the framing of the show was like, “Well, Sheldon was great, but he wasn’t complete until he met Amy, the girlfriend, who later could become his wife. And, you know, she completed him, and he completed her.” And it’s like, you could be complete in so many other different ways. There are so many other relationships. And the saying of that diminishes other relationships down to being nothing. Like, you know, if you want to get married, that’s fine. I’m not saying don’t get married. Like, “Oh, marriage is not all that important.” I’m not saying that. But it’s like, to say that this other relationship is not as important…
Tyger: You know, I wrote about Thelma and Louise. That’s one of my favorite of all time movies. Thelma and Louise, with Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis. If you haven’t seen it, you gotta see it. It’s such a wonderful movie. And it really speaks to, like, the power of good girlfriends. And even though, you know, they have significant boyfriends and husbands in their lives, the best relationship that the two, Thelma and Louise, have is with each other as friends. They literally rode to the death for each other because they care so much and love each other so much.
Courtney: I love that.
Tyger: And it’s just like, why are you diminishing that relationship of a friend, of a best friend, to being lesser than, you know, of a partner or mate? And it’s just, ugh. It’s one of those things with amatonormativity that always gets weirded out. ’Cause like, even if I were to buy a house and I would try to buy a house, it would be just almost impossible, because there’s such a thing in housing world where if you’re not in a marital relationship, people won’t rent to you, because, like, they don’t think you’re as reliable a renter. We talked about, like, the discrimination thing, what Asexual people face, and like, Asexual people are the least humanized identity — even by other orientations, people see us as less human.
Courtney: Yeah. And that was by a survey of people. So that was the people being surveyed saying that. So that’s not just conjecture.
Tyger: Sure. Yeah. But in another survey, like, people who were, like, in housing relationships, people wouldn’t rent to someone if they were, like, Asexual and then were not in a couple relationship, because I guess they don’t think they’re as reliable a renter or an owner, or it’s not — like, some people, some houses still have morality clauses. So, like, if you’re living with your friend, then that’s like — they see it as impropriety, the whole “living in sin” thing again.
Courtney: Yeah. There are laws in this country — and I’m sure there are in others, I’m just not as familiar with them. But in the US, there are certain places in the US that do have laws on the books that say, you know, “You can’t legally, technically live with someone who isn’t a family member of yours by either blood or marriage or some other legal contract.” And that’s just really messed up when we allow the government to ;egislate what a family is.
Tyger: Yeah. And we saw this with people trying to, you know, the whole Respect for Marriage Act — as you guys talked about, I talked about — with, you know, people saying that they don’t want Asexual marriages to exist in the world ’cause it, like, somehow ruins marriage by allowing…
Courtney: “The bottom of the barrel.” [laughs]
Tyger: [high-pitched] “It’s a marriage inferno!”
Tyger: That’s what one person quoted it as. Like, “People not having sex in marriage? That’s like, awful! For some reason! I don’t know!”
Courtney: After we did that series, a very right-wing Christian online literally contacted us and called us “insults to humanity and nature.” And I was like, “I’m gonna own that. I’m putting that in our Twitter bio.” [laughs]
Tyger: Yeah. Well, I guess they’ll call me that as well. And then, yeah.
[Courtney and Tyger laugh]
Tyger: I guess we’ll all have to own that now. That might have to be our group name. If we have a group rock band, we’ll just call it “Insults to Humanity and Nature.”
Courtney: I like it! Well, and the thing is, too — ’cause we’ve had a couple of, I would say, bad faith criticisms from some people in the community that, as Ace people, we shouldn’t be feeding into amatonormativity by marrying legally. Which I think is a bad faith argument, ’cause there are a lot of reasons why someone in our current system would feel compelled to get married, and that is such a personal decision for people. And we also criticize marriage as an institution all the time on our podcast. But it’s also like, we aren’t playing ball. This isn’t respectability politics where we think they’ll accept us if we get married. Because trust me, they don’t. And we demonstrated that at length when we covered the Respect for Marriage Act and the outcry against it that specifically cited Asexual marriages as a problem to be avoided.
Tyger: Yeah. I would say, just to those people, it’s like, they’re not looking for ways we can be respectful to them or respectable to them. We shouldn’t. Like, we just need to be ourselves, and if they don’t respect that, that’s just not my mentality to try to gain your respect. I’m not trying to impress you. I’m going to be myself at the end of the day, whether you like it or not.
Tyger: But yeah, that whole thing of… But back to the point of, like, marriage and friendship, it’s like, there could have been so many different ways the storyline could have gone. They didn’t have to throw Amy in there. Amy’s a great character. I’m not knocking, you know, Mayim Bialik at all as Amy Farrah Fowler, but they didn’t need Amy. They could have had other ways of having Sheldon, you know, I guess, mature throughout the years — evolve, you know, throughout the years.
Tyger: And that’s just, you know, the idea that you only grow because you’re in relationships. Or I grew up in churches where it’s like, “Well, if you’re not married, and stuff like that, by a certain age, you’re just living as an extended adolescence.” Or, “Guys are just living like Peter Pan, just refusing to grow up.” I’m like, hello. There are so many different ways of growing up. Are you saying the only time you ever grow up — you were just a kid until you got married? That’s what you’re saying. Without a marriage, you’d just be a child? That’s what you’re saying to people. You’re saying that you had no ability to grow up, mature, evolve, change as an adult without somebody? Like the idea of…
Tyger: It almost feeds into, I wouldn’t say in a bad way, but it almost seems like it’s a codependency in a way. Like, you’re codependent. Like, it almost feeds into that, like, “I need you to help me grow up,” and stuff like that. Like, no. I think a better way of saying — if you want a relationship — like, “I enjoy having you in my life. I’d like you to stay.” Instead of saying, “I need you, because without you, I would still be a little kid inside.” Like, that’s —
Courtney: Yeah. Well, people also use “child” as an insult in that way too. Like it is bad to be a child. Children are inherently worse than adults. And, like, children hear that. Children hear when other adults call each other a child as an insult.
Tyger: “You’re childish! Childish!”
Courtney: Yes! And that makes things so much more complicated. Because in our very sexualized society, there are young kids, young teenagers, who are adultified, who are heavily sexualized, and everything in this world is telling kids that they should lean into that and embrace it because it’s bad to be a child. And if it means that having sex is what you need to do to not be a child anymore, that is not the message we should be sending as a society.
Tyger: Yeah. It’s the whole, “sex makes you a man” or “sex makes you a woman” or, you know, “sex makes you a grown-up.” “Grow up!” You know. “Be a man,” and stuff like that, you know. All toxic and masculinity statements. These sort of things make it seem like, “Well, if you haven’t done so, then you’re still like a kid inside.” But I don’t even get the idea. It’s like, I don’t even see where the line comes from. ’Cause it’s like, there are plenty of immature adults who are married who end up, you know, being immature married people. And it’s just like, really, the idea… And it’s like, yeah, there are a lot of immature people who are married. Immaturity is independent of your marital status. I know people who are single, who take care of their loved ones who are of elderly age, and they have to do all of the caretaking. Are they somehow still immature ’cause they just haven’t put a ring on a finger or haven’t, you know, done anything with genitalia at that point? Please.
Courtney: Right! Or people like you and I who don’t have kids, but have taught children for years. Like, I love kids even if I don’t have my own.
Tyger: Yeah. But even then, it frames it in the idea of, like, people being interested in certain things as being like, either “these are mature, or more mature” compared to this, “you’re into this, this is less mature.” Like the whole drinking thing. Like, if you drink, you’re grown up. It’s sophisticated; it’s more cosmopolitan, urbane to drink. And it’s like, no, it’s not. You just like the taste of alcohol, at the end of the day. I don’t. Doesn’t make you more sophisticated or urbane or cosmopolitan. Doesn’t make you more well-traveled than I am. Okay?
Courtney: Mhm. Yeah! Well, and to go back to.. ’cause I just had this thought about the Sheldon thing as well. The fact that he did decide to [laughing] “do coitus” or however it was that he phrased it in that funny way. There are Ace people who do that, and I know there are some of our listeners who are like, “Well, you know, having sex doesn’t mean you’re not Asexual.” And that is true. That is 100% true. But the framing of it in a show like that is dangerous because he had other people in his life trying to sway him and pressure him toward that. And I’m sure watchers of the show who are virgins and/or Asexual themselves also have real people in their lives who have been doing that, either directly or indirectly or both.
Tyger: Right, raises his hand.
Courtney: Yes. Yes. It’s very relatable for a lot of us. We have experienced that in some way, shape, or form. But you have all these people pressuring you, like, “Yes, this is something you should do. Even if you say you don’t want to, just do it anyway.” And then they depict him doing it and being like, “Wow, that… So much better than I thought it would be, actually!” Then it’s like, you have now reconfirmed that the pressures by the other people were warranted and justified, because he just didn’t know what he wanted. He just had to do it. And that is a dangerous framing.
Courtney: I think if there was going to be a representation of an Ace person who does, for whatever reasons are their own, decide to have sex — whether it’s for the benefit of a partner or for their own curiosity — that narrative needs to be driven from within that character. You need to see that character go through the steps of, “This might be a thing I want to consider, and here is why,” and and having that as internal development rather than, “All these people are telling you to do it, you do it, and then go, ‘Oh yeah, actually, pretty good, though.’”
Courtney: Like, ’cause that’s also telling people who maybe say, like, “I don’t wanna have sex,” that’s planting yet another seed of doubt of, “Is there something wrong with me? Is there something I’m missing? Do I just need to do this, because is this going to be better than I thought?” And that’s not the message we want to send to anybody out there who either are Asexual or maybe haven’t found Ace identity yet but may one day find that it does fit them.
Tyger: Yeah. I was just literally thinking when we were saying that, it’s like, when conversion therapy came out in churches and they were often doing things like that, it was like, “We just need to, you know, pressure them until they can be cured of their, you know, of their gayness. And we gotta put ’em in straight relationships and make them feel like they gotta, you know, pressure them.” And all it really did was — we’ve seen, time after time, the amount of psychological abuse come from conversion therapy and the higher likelihood of suicidality, the higher likelihood of substance abuse, the higher likelihood of depression, and have had to, you know, be subjected to conversion therapy.
Tyger: And it’s like, the show basically did that to Sheldon, where they did a conversion therapy and tried to normalize it. Like, “It’s okay because he wasn’t… He was Asexual, so we just needed to convert him to being, you know, sexual, ’cause it’s good for everyone,” you know? “He didn’t know what he was missing out on,” you know? “You don’t know what you’re missing!”
Courtney: Which is also very infantilizing, especially if it’s someone who is, like, a neurodivergent-coded character too. Because you know, Autistic or other neurodivergent people or anyone with disabilities are often infantilized and told, like, “Well, you just don’t know any better. Let us, the mature adults, teach you.”
Tyger: Yeah. It’s one of those things of… it’s a paternalism. It’s a paternalism. It’s like, “Okay. You’re basically treating me like a little kid, like I don’t know anything in the world.” And it’s like, that’s the wrong way to go after things. Like, no, I know enough about myself. Like, you think you know me better than I know me. I think I know myself better than you will ever know me. And it’s just like, you just gotta go with what I am saying.
Tyger: And it’s just, that whole thing was, in and of itself, just all-around terrible. [laughing] Which was why, uh, thankfully, we’ve gotten past Sheldon as Asexual representation. ’Cause for a long time, that was the only one people thought of as Asexual representation.
Courtney: [laughs] Yeah.
Tyger: Like, “Oh, you mean like Sheldon?” And I’m like…
Royce: Yeah. It was just such a big mainstream show.
Tyger: Yeah. So, thankfully, we’ve gotten so much better. And we still got a long ways to go.
Courtney: Oh, we still need more. We still need more diversity within the Ace rep that we currently have, and we just need more! But too many writers do think that an Ace character is boring or that there isn’t character development to be there. And I’m like, “Uh, you must not know a lot of Ace people, ’cause Ace people are some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met.” Ace people are some of my best friends, and we have so many stories that would be invaluable to tell.
Royce: It also — just to turn that back around on someone saying that, to reflect on your skill as a writer, if you can literally only write something interesting if it’s a standard stereotypical romance plot, like, that means you’re a one-trick. You’ve got one thing you can do.
Courtney: Ooh. Drag them.
Tyger: Yes. Royce with the point. [laughs] Royce for the win on that one!
Tyger: I’ll take that. I’ll take that one, ’cause that was really good. Yeah, so, you know, that’s just, I guess, to say we’ve talked so much about different representations, but to talk Sheldon was to talk all of them. Because there’s just so much. Sheldon was a microcosm of such problematic societal tropes, stereotypes, and mores that I just… It was like, he was a microcosm of all of it. And it’s just, these sort of things, we still have to grow from. We’re still having to fight this fight upward, I guess, to getting past that. And it’s just like, anytime we say it, it’s almost seemed like we get an article from the Washington Post that ends up becoming some sort of diatribe by some Christian nationalist about how, you know, “They’re trying to take away sex and outlaw and ban sex” or something like that. I’m like, “Open your dumb eyes, please.”
Courtney: Oh, yeah. There was, like, that New York Times op-ed that was like, “Have more sex, please.” And we literally saw an op-ed to that op-ed that came out that was like, “Have more married sex, please.” [laughing] And we were like, “Oh, jeez.” [laughs]
Tyger: Yeah. And it’s just like, you know, the idea of saying, in one vein, like, “Oh, we’re trying to outlaw or ban sex by being Asexual.” [laughing] No one is even remotely doing that. But sometimes — I don’t even wanna have the power to do that. If I had superpowers, I wouldn’t even want that. I might want powers to control the weather like Storm, but no, I would not want that superpower. Um, no.
Tyger: So it’s just like, all we want is for people to realize you have a life that can be lived that’s full and complete, regardless of if you’re in a relationship or not, regardless of if you’re having sex or not, regardless of whether you even want to have sex or don’t want to. In my case, being Asexual, whether you’re repulsed, favorable, whether you feel attraction or don’t feel it, you don’t need someone. It’s just one of those things with, like, saying, “You are complete as you are, because you are a person. You don’t need someone to complete you. You don’t need someone to masterfully make you a whole person. You are a whole person. And the relationships you have will be valuable because of that.”
Tyger: And I think you see it all the time. I mention this all the time when I talk about sex ed. ’Cause I wrote an op-ed for LGBTQ Nation, when I wrote about why LGBTQ sex ed needs to be inclusive, especially for Asexual people. Like, the sex ed that we get in America is often so terrible. It’s abstinence-only so often. But learning comprehensively about things — consent, about different identities, learning about, you know, different things like romantic orientations, and that, you know, you could be Aromantic or you don’t wish to have a relationship — and to realize, “Hey, this is normal. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re fine. You’re great.” That actually leads to less premarital early-onset sex. Like, they always say “early-onset.” What they mean is, like —
Courtney: [laughing] “Early-onset.” It makes sex sound like a disease. [laughs]
Tyger: Yeah. I guess what they usually tend to mean is, like, before age 18 or something like that, you know? And then less substance abuse, less STI transmission, all of these different things. It’s positive for everyone to learn this. It’s positive for everyone to feel and to know that they are a complete person, with or without a romantic or marriage partner. Or if you just wanna be friends with people, you’re complete. And you can be a loner if you wish to be, you know? You’re still complete. You just are different.
Tyger: And that’s difference that, you know, we should celebrate. You know, the differences that make us, I think, make us great. As Audre Lorde said, “It’s not differences that divide us. It’s failure to celebrate them.” So we should just learn how to celebrate everybody and what they want and what their relationship needs are, and then go with it. And I think we’ll see a lot better. Unfortunately, 2007 was not ready for that conversation.
Courtney: Nooo. No, it was not.
Tyger: I’d love to think: 2023, we’re finally there —
Tyger: — and at least ready to do… Maybe. I’d like to think we’re there.
Courtney: We’re getting better. [laughs]
Tyger: I’d like to think we’re there, but you know, we’ll wait and see.
Courtney: Some of us are there. Some of us in the community are definitely there. We’re just waiting for mainstream society to catch up.
Tyger: Yep. And it often lags behind. Mainstream always falls behind what is, you know, going to be the trend. They always catch it late. Something becomes popular and it’s already way, you know, months in. So it’s just, I think our conversation is ahead of its time. I think we’ll find — in, hopefully, a couple years — people will be like, “I get what they mean!”
Tyger: “I get what they mean. I understand. I was just like that.” As I’ve always said, I think there are way more Asexual people out there that don’t know, and maybe we’ll get to ’em and maybe we’ll reach. So, that’s all I can say with Sheldon. That’s the best I can give with Sheldon. It’s not that Sheldon is the problem, and I’m not mad at Jim Parsons or anyone. It’s just the framing of the show that was the problem, and it was more reflecting of a microcosm of what society was at that time, and that was, you know, still problematic. And hopefully as we look backwards, just like I do with other television shows, looking back in time, hopefully it’s better now. We’ll see. It was like, “We’re better for it. We’re better now than we were back then.” [laughing] I’d like to think.
Courtney: Oh, yeah. Because that show would’ve also been — if it ran for 12 seasons, it would’ve also been running during the period of time where that awful, awful episode of House was, where House cured Asexuality. And we also did an episode about that previously. ’Cause I watched that the day it premiered, and —
Courtney: — let me tell you, young Ace Courtney was not impressed.
Tyger: Yeah. I literally was thinking… When I watched the show, I thought I was Ace, and then I watched that show and my family was like, “Are you sure? You haven’t had your, like, levels checked or anything like that.”
Courtney: “Do you have a brain tumor?”
Tyger: I had it all checked. Turned out I was just a-okay. Yeah, I hated that episode, hated that show. I never could understand — and maybe this was just me and people are gonna drag me in the comments or something like that who are maybe big House, MD fans — but I could never understand why that show got popular or why people loved him so much as a character. ’Cause like, the guy is a certified jerk to everyone!
Courtney: I mean, he’s kind of Dr. Sherlock. They used a lot of Sherlock-esque tropes on him that are, like, classically recognizable and widely beloved.
Tyger: Yeah. And I understand, like, Sherlock also had that as well. But it was like, not only was he a certified jerk, in a way, to not only his boss and, like, workmates, but he was also… You know, the substance abuse was crazy. It was like, he and Nurse Jackie — and hey, they took so many pills. And I used to work at a care facility. They would’ve taken the entire care facility’s worth of medication in a day.
Tyger: So, I mean, they were just popping them. It was like, they were popping them like Smarties.
Courtney: Smarties! Ahh. I’ve never liked Smarties.
Tyger: I don’t like them either. I’m not a candy person either.
Courtney: We’re just hating on all the foods and drinks today. [laughs]
Tyger: People are gonna come, like, “Dang. Don’t you like anything? Do you like anything?” Yes. I love being Asexual. That’s my answer.
Courtney: Perfectly put. Well, Tyger, please tell all the people, before we wrap up today, where they can find you, what you’ve been up to, what projects you’ve had since last we talked — all the things.
Tyger: Well, oh my goodness. Well, after quitting my job with teaching, I’ve been writing. You could find me on my Substack, TygerSongbird.substack — at Substack. So you can find me there. You can find me on Twitter; handle: @TygerSongbird. You can find me on Instagram @TygerSongbird. You can find me on Reddit. I am the head moderator of r/Asexual, the subreddit there. We’re actually, you know, getting ready for Pride Month there, so we’re gonna do some things on Reddit for Pride Month for Asexuality Week, for Asexual Month, which is gonna be really awesome. It’s gonna be really great. If he wants to know more about that, hit me up on that as well.
Tyger: I’m doing some writing projects for different national publications. I have something for LGBTQ Nation soon. I continually write for them. I have something for QueerAF in London due very soon. And if you’re looking for a writer to talk about LGBTQIA+ rights and news and politics and topics, and you’re just looking for a writer, or if you’re just looking for a writer like me, or even an editor, and you’re looking to hire, look to me.
Courtney: Hire him!
Tyger: I got you. It’s what I love to do. So, I’m all out here. You can find me at Tyger Songbird — T-Y-G-E-R-S-O-N-G-B-I-R-D — and I am everywhere, so. You’ll probably find me maybe even doing a couple of interviews, which will be pretty awesome, so — just like I did today, and just like we did with The Ace Couple. I really thank you guys. So, please subscribe to the podcast. Please subscribe. If you haven’t subscribed to The Ace Couple podcast, you need to do it! You gotta do it. It’s going everywhere. It’s becoming internationally known.
Courtney: [laughs] We are going places! That seems like such an exaggeration, but I guess it technically isn’t. We’ve charted in a number of countries, technically. [laughs] Actually, what are we up to now, Royce? Is it, like, 33? Have we charted in, uh, a country for every year that Tyger has been alive?
Royce: It’s somewhere around there.
Royce: It’s in the 30s.
Tyger: At this point, you might have a Rolling Stone article. You’re gonna have to get ready to get your close up.
Courtney: Ooh, I doubt it in Rolling Stone. And Rolling Stone has not, uh, historically had the best relationship with the Ace community, but —
Tyger: I know.
Courtney: — we’ll see. We’ll see. But, yes, we will definitely… Thank you so much for that, Tyger. That was sweet. But we will definitely, for all you listeners, have all of Tyger’s links in the show notes, as per the usual, so you can find him on all the places. As he said, he is everywhere. And we’ve also established that he is Jesus, so remember that Jesus is everywhere. [laughs]
Tyger: [sings an angelic tone] Ahhh.
[speaking] Oh my God. I just float on air. Well, I just float on air. I don’t even land. My feet can’t even touch the ground.
[Tyger and Courtney laugh]
Courtney: So on that note, thank you all so much for being here. I don’t know if… If some of the articles that Tyger has coming up have released before this episode comes out, we’ll also have those in the show notes, but if not, be on the lookout for them, 100%. And thank y’all so much for being here!
Courtney: Oh, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! We can’t wrap up yet. I forgot a very important thing! Royce, Royce, go get the thing! We have to do our verdict. Go —go get the thing. Where’s the thing? Or tell me where the thing is.
Courtney: Yes, verdict!
Royce: Isn’t it on the table, next to you?
Courtney: Is it on the table? Where is it? Hold on. Hold on. Hold on.
Royce: Stand up. [brief pause] It took me a minute to realize what she was asking for.
Tyger: [laughs] Oh, this is gonna be awesome. I have a feeling it’s gonna be really awesome.
Royce: I have a feeling you might be disappointed.
Courtney: [laughing] No, Royce! This is what the people have been waiting for, Royce!
Tyger: This is, like, the cliffhanger of all cliffhangers right here.
Courtney: So, it is time to pass judgment on Sheldon Cooper. Is Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory good Ace rep? I have acquired a gavel at long last! [laughs]
Tyger: We, the jury, in the recorded indictment, find the defendant, Sheldon Cooper: [claps] bad.
Courtney: Bad Ace rep!
Tyger: [singing] Dun-dun.