Asexual Representation: Isaac Henderson in Heartstopper (season 2)

We were promised “BIG ASEXUAL PLANS” for Heartstopper Season 2 by the creator Alice Osemen, but did the show live up to the hype? Tune in to hear our thoughts on Isaac’s journey!


Courtney: Hello, everyone. Welcome back. My name’s Courtney. I’m here with my spouse, Royce. And together, we are The Ace Couple. And today, we are talking about a long-anticipated topic. We are finally going to talk about the Asexual representation in Heartstopper. Recently, season two has been released, and we have finally gotten on-screen confirmation that Isaac is in fact Ace, possibly AroAce — that might be up in the air, but definitely Ace based on what we’ve been presented with so far.

Courtney: And some of you may recall that we did an episode on the first season of Heartstopper. If you would like, feel free to go back and listen to that one before this. But this one can kind of be its own episode, because last season, we really just talked about the fact that it was kind of all just talk. Isaac has AroAce vibes, and the author, Alice Oseman, had confirmed on Twitter that there are to be big plans, big Asexual plans, for season two. So we talked about the fact that it’s coming, and it’s by an author that we trust, so we’re very hopeful for it, but it’s not there yet.

Courtney: But now that it has been presented to us canonically, let’s dig in. First of all, rep aside, I think, just as a viewer, personally, I think I did enjoy season two a little better than season one.

Royce: I would agree with that. Honestly, I think both seasons were a bit of a blur to me, but I do think I had more fun watching this season than the last one.

Courtney: I feel like in the first season, there were just some things that I wasn’t picking up on, and I don’t know if it was because of pacing or if it just really wasn’t holding my attention at certain points. So things would come out, like, “Oh, of course that character is trans. I guess I should have known that two or three episodes ago, but [laughing] I missed something.” So there were definitely things like that in season one. I feel like I… personally, as a viewer, I was following all the plot points much easier in season two. But I also just feel like there were, I don’t know, almost too many plot points in season two. Like, there wasn’t enough time to get everything in to the extent that I would have liked to see it.

Royce: It was a short season: eight episodes, all around 35 minutes.

Courtney: Yes.

Royce: Which season one was as well.

Courtney: It was. But the big difference I saw between just like pacing and characters and plot points was that a bulk of season one was sort of revolving around this budding relationship with Charlie and Nick, and it seemed like everyone else was kind of the B- or C-plot. But this season almost seemed to me like they were trying to flesh it out more in a way to make it a true ensemble cast, where all of the characters do have their own stories, and then there is sort of the main… There wasn’t even really a main plot point. It was just a bunch of different characters who all kind of had their own plots.

Royce: Yeah. There wasn’t one central thing happening that we were leading towards.

Courtney: Yes.

Royce: I think part of why I found it more interesting was because more characters got more screen time.

Courtney: Yes, which I do like. And most of my favorite shows, most of my favorite just media, even theater, is told in the form of an ensemble cast. So I love a good ensemble cast. The light pitfall I saw to that was that there were some characters who did have truly interesting plots that I did want to see more of, and it just seemed like there was not enough time to flesh out each of those plots. And, honestly, my biggest critique is that Isaac, the Ace character, just did not have very much time.

Courtney: And here’s where we’re gonna get into talking about the actual representation. Because I don’t think there was anything bad. I think everything we saw or everything we were told was good, and I would say that it did represent the sexuality pretty well. It just wasn’t very much. And I feel like it could have been more, and it just wasn’t.

Courtney: And I’ve been trying to figure out where these feelings are coming from. Because Isaac is the most introverted character. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. There are definitely some shows where the introverted character who hardly ever talks ends up being the crowd favorite. So there is definitely a way to do a very interesting, very appealing, very lovable introverted character on screen. And he’s the one who’s always reading a book. And in fact right now, as of the time we’re recording this, if you Google, like, “Heartstopper season 2 Isaac,” 9 out of 10 of the articles you’re gonna be seeing isn’t about the fact that he’s Ace. It’s gonna be about, “Here’s his reading list. Here are all the books he was seen reading in this season.” [laughs] There are so many like “Isaac’s reading lists,” which is great for real-life people who like books, but that doesn’t tell us all that much about the actual plot of the show.

Courtney: So it is worth noting before we get further into these critiques. Because I would say the critiques I have now are almost suspended critiques, pending the next season. Because if this season was meant to be a lead-up to announcing an Ace reveal, but next season there are active intentions to flesh him out as a person so much more, maybe all the critiques I’m about to say are going to be diminished, if not removed.

Courtney: But I don’t like that. I feel like for so much Ace rep, we’re being told it’s coming. We’re being told… And, I mean, we saw that in The Owl House, which, as animation, is a slightly different medium. It’s like, “Oh, well, this character’s AroAce. When’s it coming? When’s it coming?” It was never shown on screen, ever once. Things like Florence from Sex Education that we’ve critiqued before. The issue was that she was just kind of one and done. She got five minutes on screen, and then we never saw her again.

Courtney: So Isaac isn’t falling into those same pitfalls, because we know he’s Ace, it’s confirmed now on screen, and he’s in every episode, technically. The first episode, he had two words. [laughs]

Royce: Well, even before the first episode, in the few-minute recap that they put on Netflix that was “Here’s what happened in season one,” all of the main characters came on and kind of talked about what they were doing, and Isaac’s contribution to that was basically, “I walked in on Nick and Charlie, and I was supportive.”

Courtney: [laughs] Yeah. That’s about it. Which, there could be humor to that and there could be, you know, actual introverted bookworms out there that are like, “Yeah, that’s totally me,” so.

Royce: What I was trying to point out was, if you look at shared time that each character is given, Isaac is being positioned as, like, the side-iest of side characters.

Courtney: Yes.

Royce: Like, even within the main group of friends, he has less time to actually show personality traits. And… you said he’s on screen. He’s on screen in the background not saying anything a lot of the time.

Courtney: Yes. With his nose in a book. Which, and I will say this too: I will give major props to the actor who plays Isaac. Tobie Donovan is just cute as heck. Like, his facial expressions are adorable. So when his face is on screen, the actor is really making the most of what he’s being given by the script. So the dissonance, I think — because, and here’s — As I’m watching it, I’m like, I don’t mind that he’s introverted. I don’t mind that he doesn’t talk very much. I don’t mind that he’s reading so much. But when he did talk, and the way they did show things, there was still to me some kind of difference in the way he was being handled versus the other characters. And I was trying to figure it out, and I think I did.

Courtney: I think one of the styles of Heartstopper as a TV show is that it doesn’t follow the normal on-screen rule of “Show, don’t tell.” That’s what they say for TV, for movies: “It’s a visual media, so show us this instead of telling us this.” And normally, that said, like, “Don’t overload something with dialogue if you could show something actionable happening.” And Heartstopper doesn’t do that, most of the time.

Courtney: Really, the only times I saw things being shown was when characters in a relationship were kissing. And there were lots and lots of kissing scenes — especially Nick and Charlie. They’re sort of in this new teenage relationship haze where they, you know, can’t really keep their hands off of each other. They even want to, like, sneak into a closet at school, to, like, make out in secret.

Courtney: And I’m someone — I’ve spoken about this before — I don’t enjoy watching people kissing. I really do not. I know that’s a me thing. I know that’s partially my sex-repulsed Ace part of me. But I will say I didn’t mind the kissing nearly as much in this show as I do most of the teenage shows that we’ve reviewed. Because we’ve sort of called them, like, “teenage sex shows,” things like Euphoria, even, to another extent, Heartbreak High, the microphones are, like, in their mouth, and the wet, moist, smacking lip sounds from when these teenagers are making out on screen just — it sounds like they’re kissing inside of my brain, and I can’t handle it. They were not over-mic’ed in this show like those other ones, so I was like, “Okay, this is far more tolerable than any of the other shows that we’ve reviewed where I’ve had that critique.” So very, very positive on that front for Heartstopper. Did not mind that.

Courtney: But those moments, those relationship moments, where it’s either kissing or there were situations where they were either on a school trip or they were having, as a friend group, some sort of sleepover at one of their houses. So there were moments where these teenagers in a relationship were sharing a bed or sharing a blanket, and they were falling asleep cuddling or they were falling asleep holding hands, and this camera would linger on that for a bit. And it would just let us sit with this good relationship vibe. Which is super good for the gay rep, for the bi rep. Because we have Nick and Charlie, a bisexual and a gay boy, who are in a relationship together. That’s so good for their rep! I like that they’re able to have that time to just sit there and, like, bask in this warm, happy relationship fog. Because that’s gonna kind of try to draw the viewers into that mentality. Because just the absolute cloud of infatuation that comes with, like, teenage hormones is something that is exceptionally hard to understand for me, [laughs] let alone start to, like, empathize with and enjoy and root for them. But I think their strategic use of hovering on those moments works.

Courtney: But that’s the only time they do that. They don’t give you time to just sit in any other emotion. The only emotion we sit is new romance. And that’s the part that doesn’t work for me. And I think that’s the part that doesn’t work in Isaac’s favor as a character. Because there was a moment that I literally turned to you, Royce, and I was like, “Could they have cut away faster? Like, could they have given us just a couple more seconds to sit on Isaac?” [laughs] It was silly. And it was actually during sort of a montage.

Courtney: So Isaac’s only real plotline this season is kind of coming to terms with the fact that he is Ace. I think they’re gonna go with him being AroAce, I do, but we don’t have enough to definitively make that, based on what was seen on screen. What his story was, in a nutshell: the only other out gay boy at school meets him. They’re talking in the library. They’re hitting it off. They’re becoming friends. And it’s clear that there’s some kind of crush going on here. And for a while, it kind of seems like it is a reciprocated crush, like maybe Isaac could have feelings for this boy.

Courtney: But I think the exploring of that relationship didn’t get all that much screen time. We got some. We did get to see it come to a point where Isaac and this boy do kiss. And when I saw it I was like, “Is this gonna be basically the wholesome version of Heartbreak High?” Because they were both, like, sitting down in a hallway in, like… I think it was technically a hotel instead of, like, an apartment building, but they were both sitting with their knees up, feet on the ground, side by side in a hallway, and I was like, “This visually looks like the wholesome version of Cash [laughs] from Heartbreak High,” where they’re having this big impactful moment in a hallway [laughing] with lots of doors. So that just visual parallel was just kind of silly.

Courtney: But they have this kiss and you kind of see in Isaac’s face that there are some conflicting feelings happening here. And he did, at one point, verbally ask Charlie, “Before you actually got to know each other, before you became a couple, how did you know that you were attracted to Nick?” And, of course, Charlie, in his still very, very new relationship energy haze, is like, “I just knew I always wanted to be around him, and I really wanted to kiss him,” and all these things. And you kind of see Isaac go, like, “Hmm.” [laughs] Like, “That’s odd.” Like, the gears are turning. You can tell he can’t quite relate to it.

Courtney: And I think he even glances across the bus at the boy who he’s… not seeing — they didn’t establish a relationship — but been hitting it off with lately. So you kind of get that, like, “Well, there’s a reason why he’s asking this.” And that scene, verbally, I think, was the most insight we ever got into Isaac’s actual internal feelings. Because he didn’t express his confusion, but it can easily be extrapolated. Like, people don’t just ask that question, [laughs] but a lot of Aces do. A lot of Aces ask that question.

Courtney: But after he has this kiss, and after he had already asked this question, so we know there’s some kind of questioning there, it shows this montage of, you know, the lesbian couple; they’re in the same bed and they’re cuddling together. It shows Nick and Charlie, who fell asleep holding hands. It shows Tao and Elle, who — Tao I believe is straight, Elle is a trans woman, they’re in a budding relationship; it shows them sort of in their little new relationship haze thing. And it gave every single one of those couples more screen time. And then it cuts to Isaac sitting alone on a balcony. And I was like, “Yes! Here it is. Let’s see it.” I was so excited. And that was just done. Like, two seconds of him on the balcony, alone. Done. And I was like, “No! Give me more!: Like, show me his internal conflict. Show me the fact that he’s questioning something, that he’s feeling lonely. Is he feeling broken? I don’t even need it to be in words. I just need you to show it more.

Courtney: And when I say that they don’t let you sit with any other emotion except this, like, romance emotion, that goes for negative emotions too, and even emotions that aren’t relationship-related. Because there was a storyline for Charlie this season where he has an eating disorder. He’s not eating enough. It starts very subtle, very easy to miss, where like, “‘Oh, do you want me to make dinner?’ ‘No, I’ll eat when I get home. I’ll just have a cup of tea.’” “‘Oh, do you want to get some lunch?’ ‘No, I had a late breakfast.’” Very offhanded remarks. And that culminates in him actually fainting on a school trip from not having eaten enough. And that’s when his boyfriend Nick is like, “I’ve kind of noticed that you don’t eat a lot. What’s going on there?”

Courtney: And this scene was kind of weird for me as someone who has lived with an eating disorder and has been recovered for quite some time. The dialogue did not feel genuine to me in this scene. Because Charlie talked about how his negative relationship with food started when he was getting really heavily bullied when he got outed last year. And the way he described why he doesn’t eat — first of all, he just came right out with it very quickly. And I was like, “Oh, you’re not even going to try to hide that, huh?” [laughs] Which, sure, why not. But the dialogue seemed to me less coming from the first-person perspective of someone who’s had an eating disorder, and more someone Googled “eating disorders” and read, like, a Psychology Today article about the fact that “Eating disorders are actually about control. It’s not actually about food; it’s about control.” Which is a thing that I see written about a lot. And in some cases, that can be the thing. But I feel like a lot of people read that line or learn that or hear that line and then just sort of blanketly apply that. And it kind of, in my opinion, becomes very reductive and kind of a catchall explanation for what is actually, like, an entire set of very complicated disorders.

Courtney: And they did have him turn down some food, but it was all in dialogue. It was all, “‘Want me to make dinner?’ ‘Oh, no thanks.’” “‘Want to have lunch?’ ‘Oh, no thanks.’” Someone brings him an ice cream cone and he’s like, “Ah, I’m not very hungry.” But then he goes, “Oh, you know what?” and, like, starts eating it anyway. But we don’t see or get to sit or feel in Charlie’s emotions. So we don’t see him, like, alone looking at a plate of food,or we don’t see him, like, really sitting or grappling with what it feels like to him to have a mental disorder. Instead, we get a lot of exposition from him where he said, “Yeah, last year, when I was getting bullied, I felt like I couldn’t control anything in my life, and everything was out of my control. So I just felt like this, eating food, was something that I could control.” And it just seemed too neat and tidy.

Royce: For something that was ongoing for most of the season, too, it culminated in a collapse, in fainting, and then was resolved very, very quickly.

Courtney: It seemed to be. I don’t think it was fully, because… I did say, during that scene, I was like, “Um, that was easy.” Because the teachers bring him a sandwich. They’re like, “Eat.” He’s sitting with Nick, and he’s like, “Ok,” and he takes a bite of a sandwich and a bite of a croissant. And then Nick’s like, “Talk to me about these things when there’s a problem!” And Charlie’s like, “Yeah, I’ll do that.”

Courtney: But then there was one additional scene later where he comes to dinner at Nick’s house, and Nick’s mom is like, “Oh, Charlie didn’t eat very much.” And so instead of sitting with Charlie’s emotions, we’re sitting with Nick Googling “eating disorders.” [laughs] Which is interesting to me because… It could be a personal preference. I get that this is a very happy escape-ish show for a lot of people, but you’re also dealing with complex things, and I feel like the complex things were made less complex by the way that it was being presented and by the fact that we aren’t able to sit with anything that isn’t the new romance energy for any period of time.

Courtney: And we have now seen — I would like to point out — between Nick Googling “bisexuality” last season and him Googling “eating disorders” this season, we have seen more of Nick’s specific internet searches than we have seen of Isaac reading anything specific that resonated with him or taught him something. [laughs] And that’s what I’m saying with — like, he is being treated a little bit differently than the other characters. Because, I mean, we can see the cover of his books, so we can get these listicles of “Here are all the books that he read.” But we don’t know how he feels about the books. We don’t know which ones he liked, which ones were his favorite, why he chose to read that book in the first place.

Courtney: And it almost got to a point where I was like, “The camera really loves cutting away from Isaac.” Because there were more than one occasion where one of his friends would come up to Isaac and be like, “Hey, what are you reading?” And almost before they could even finish the word “reading,” the camera cut away. And I was like, “I want to hear Isaac talk about the book he’s reading! What does he think about it? Does he love it? Is it his new favorite? Does it remind him of another book? Like, give me something!” [laughs] And so, yeah, I don’t know. That was just like… there is still more you can do with a quiet bookworm than is currently being done, and I hope more gets done in season three. I really do.

Courtney: Because on the lines of this show that I think is telling you so much more than it is showing you, you don’t have any flashbacks to characters either, so you also don’t see the full extent of, like, Charlie’s bullying when he was outed. We saw the assault scene at the very beginning of season one, and then, ever since then, we’ve just been told that it was so much worse than that. Like, other people who he wasn’t secretly in a relationship with were abusing him. He was getting bullied. And that gets mentioned several times this season. So we’re told that, but we aren’t being shown the extent of that.

Courtney: And that just leaves me questioning: what do you do with a character like Isaac in a show where you’re telling more than you’re showing? Because he doesn’t tell very much. [laughs] So we almost need you to start showing more with him if he isn’t going to be expressing his feelings in dialogue.

Courtney: The one very good touch, though — which, I suppose the way he got sort of turned on to the concept of Asexuality was that he went to an art show to support his friend Elle, who had a piece on display there, and he walks up to another piece and starts talking to the artist of it. And he says, “Oh, what’s this piece about?” And the artist says, “This is about my experience as an Aromantic Asexual.” And then Isaac kind of has his little lightbulb moment as he’s looking at this piece — which, Royce, I think you pointed out is an increasingly common way to present Asexuality.

Royce: I think we’ve talked about Ace representation enough that we can start to talk about tropes.

Courtney: Trends, yeah.

Royce: One thing: Isaac’s character, first of all… The concept of the “one Asexual character in my media is introverted, Aromantic, and Asexual” is more common than I think we see in the actual Ace community.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: I think that is being used as a very… I want to say easy characterization of Asexuality because of how it contrasts the extroverted sexual characters who tend to make up the main cast.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: But yeah, this concept of “we have a young, or at least new to Asexuality, character who’s trying to figure themselves out, and they just run into this magical Elder Ace.”

Courtney: [laughs] “Elder Ace”! Get out of here.

Royce: At least someone who has sat with their identity long enough to not only understand it, but to be able to describe it succinctly and eloquently.

Courtney: Yes.

Royce: And it’s like a…

Courtney: It’s like, they had their pocket dictionary memorized.

Royce: Right. It’s like, in terms of resolving this conflict, in the plot, there’s this “Ace ex machina device.”

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: That is, they just happen to randomly, in a public space or a party or something like that, run into someone who knows all the answers. And I’ve seen that a lot recently.

Courtney: Yeah. Which, we will talk about this more on a future episode. But you said, like, I just read like three manga where this happened. [laughs]

Royce: Yes.

Courtney: Like, exactly like this. [laughs]

Royce: Someone at a party just knew everything there was to know about Asexuality and fielded all the questions and that tension just was resolved in an evening.

Courtney: Yeah. Which, that also happened in the book Never Been Kissed that we talked about that had the Demisexual character. He met a queer character who just knows all the things. That did happen — we haven’t talked about this show on the podcast yet, but Big Mouth had an Ace character. Which, so far, everything I’ve seen from that I have really enjoyed and we could probably do a full episode about it. But the coming to terms with it — that scene was also, oh, that character has an older relative, no less, who is Ace, and was like, “I know what’s going on. Let me teach you about the Ace —”

Royce: That was actually an Elder Ace moment.

Courtney: That was, yes. Because in Heartstopper, this was, like, a college student talking to a high school student. [laughs] So that does tend to happen pretty frequently. I don’t think the average person knows that that happens very frequently, though. Because, I mean, we actively seek out Ace rep so that we can identify these trends and tropes as they’re emerging. But it’s so fascinating that so many of these reveals end up being, “Someone knows what Asexuality is. They explain it very well in a way that this young Ace understands, and everything clicks, and now I know what my identity is.”

Courtney: But for so much of Ace history, so many of us were just so on our own. [laughs] And I wonder if we’re going to start seeing any representations about, like, someone came to the conclusion that they were Asexual purely on their own experiences and emotions, and they didn’t know that there was anyone else out there like them, but they were still confident in who they were. Or, someone who does get the definition of Asexuality presented to them, but it still doesn’t quite add up exactly with how they feel, so they don’t think that really fits, so there’s still a really complicated like journey of, you know, exploring labels and feelings and experimenting with things before they land on it. Because in our own community with real-life people, we see so much more variation than what we have seen in media representation so far.

Royce: And to that, Todd’s an example of a character who does take time to fit to the label. And I know you’ve also read some books that take place in an earlier time, before these words were commonplace.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: And those books have to find different ways to come to the same conclusion.

Courtney: Yeah. They’re definitely, like, historical fiction novels like The Reckless Kind and One For All that have an Ace character, but it’s being set in early 1900s or earlier. So, like, the word “Asexual” isn’t really something that’s being used in that way. So they still have to… As an author of something like that, you still have to figure out, “How do I make this so undeniably clear how this person feels without using this word?” So there hasn’t been a lot of in-between. It’s either very historical fiction — and mostly in books, because I think for historical fiction and TV, if there isn’t a presence of a relationship, most people are just gonna be like, “Mmm, gay,” [laughs] because that’s what people do with real life. People are even like, “Oh, they didn’t have a significant other? They were gay. They just weren’t allowed to be gay back then, so no one knew, but that’s the only answer.”

Courtney: So, yeah, that’s just something I noticed that is becoming a trend. Which is very interesting because I mentioned that, as of the time of recording, if you Google “Heartstopper, season 2, Isaac,” it’s mostly the book lists, but there is one or two articles here or there that do talk about his Asexuality. And one article from the Pink News stood out to me, because the title is “Heartstopper’s Isaac pushes the envelope for Asexual representation, and it’s about time.” I want to know what this envelope is that’s being pushed.

Royce: I didn’t see any pushing.

Courtney: I saw no pushing of any envelopes. I don’t think it was bad. I don’t think it was done wrong or that anything was like, “Well, that’s bad representation. That’s not representing the community well.” And I didn’t expect it to, because we do trust Alice Oseman as an author and as a member of the AroAce community themself.

Royce: It was just less representation than many other examples.

Courtney: Yes. It was a lot less than Koisenu Futari, which I understand is not, like, widely publicly legally available in English-speaking countries right now, but that’s an entire series dedicated to two AroAce characters.

Royce: It was a lot less than Todd in BoJack Horseman.

Courtney: It was a lot less than Todd in BoJack Horseman.

Royce: It was less than Drea in Everything’s Going to Be Okay.

Courtney: It was honestly less than Cash in Heartbreak High and I…

Royce: We had some critiques of that one, too.

Courtney: Yeah. Which, like, I think I enjoyed watching Heartstopper more than I enjoyed watching Heartbreak High, but as far as what is actually shown to us for the journey and the actual orientation and the representation around it, it was less than that. It has been less than a lot of the books that we’ve covered on this podcast, like Let’s Talk About Love and Never Been Kissed and My Heart to Find, which had, like, three main Ace characters.

Courtney: So the thing is… And, like, this is not a critique of Heartstopper. This is a critique of how much the media ignores Ace characters [laughs] and Ace representation. Like, the only reason why they’re writing about this “pushing the envelope for Asexual representation” is because it’s a very popular show. If it wasn’t very popular, they probably wouldn’t have an article this big being like, “This character’s pushing the envelope!” Which, I mean, they did have articles like that for Todd back when BoJack Horseman was still running. But we’ve covered a lot of shows that kind of fly under the radar — shows like The Imperfects that got canceled after one season. Main character Abby Singh was Ace, said right in that very first episode that she’s Ace, she knew who she was, confident, came right out with it. And so that wasn’t a journey of self-exploration. That was just a cool character who was Ace.

Courtney: So, even though the… defining Asexuality and making that a central feature of that character, I would say she was a much more fleshed-out character as a person than Isaac is. And I want more Isaac! I’m so intrigued by him. He’s so cute. He’s very, like, subtly charming, and I want more of him. [laughs] And so that’s my biggest gripe. Like, give me more of who this guy is.

Courtney: Because what I really, really did like is that they did include a real world book for the book-lover to sort of give the reveal of being Ace. So he walks up to his school’s, like, pride display, which — that’s the most unrealistic part of this entire show in the year 2023. [laughs] It’s so sad. All of the queer books are getting banned in schools in the US. I don’t know if the UK has as big of an issue with the book banning right now, but I know they’re also not doing so hot right now. But their school has this pride display, so they have all these books. And right at the top, right at the very top of this pyramid of books, is Ace by Angela Chen, which is a book that I read years ago.

Courtney: Full title: Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society and the Meaning of Sex. I say “years”; it was probably, like, two. I think I read it in 2021, probably. Maybe 2020. But I thought it was a great book, nonfiction book about Asexuality. It did begin to touch on some nuances of intersectionality, which I really, really appreciated. Because it’s kind of broken up into three sections. The first section is “Self,” and it starts with “Arriving at Asexuality.” So it comes out of the gate as, you know, how do people discover this? What does that journey potentially look like? And it talks about compulsory sexuality and the Asexual experience. It talks about the male Asexual experience. But then it goes on to talk about variations, and it talks about whitewashing. It talks about disability in the Asexual community, which I loved! I loved being able to read about those things in a book that was as big and widely published as this one.

Courtney: So I… And this is the thing about, like, nonfiction books. It’s really hard. Because I have Ace nonfiction books that we love, but it’s hard to do an episode on a nonfiction book because it’s not a plot that I can rehash in my own words and pull out a couple of specific quotes that I liked that drove things home. Because if I’m just reading sections from a book, it’s literally just a nonfiction book, so it’s hard to make an entire podcast episode about them. But I do recommend Ace if anyone out there hasn’t read it.

Courtney: The one weird, weird thing, though. I think Ace helped open the door to talking about disability within the community in a more acceptable way. Because before this book came out, I would try to dip into little pockets of the Ace community and talk about the disability intersections, and I’d be shooed away very, very quickly, and sometimes very, very aggressively. But then this book came out, and I would say the same things I’d been saying for years, and then someone would comment and be like, “You should read the book Ace by Angela Chen, because she talks about this exact same thing!” And it’s like, okay, I’m glad you learned about it in that book and read the book and that it was good, but there are actually some disabled Aces who have these real lived experiences, who have been trying to have these conversations for years.

Courtney: And in like, reading the section about disability, my enjoyment of it is like, “Yay, someone’s talking about this on a bigger level. Maybe this’ll help.” It wasn’t like I personally was learning something brand new by reading that section. I’m sure many Aces do learn new things by reading that section. But that was just a weird thing, and I started calling people on it. I was like, “Ever since this book came out, this is the response every time I talk about disability and Asexuality. Without fail, someone says, ‘You should read this book.’ First of all, I did. Second of all, that section didn’t teach me anything new.” So it is a good book.

Courtney: And I think for the sake of this show, for Isaac, having him grab a book about Asexuality is the reveal. And that’s why I say it’s complicated as to whether or not we can definitively say he’s AroAce right now. Because the person he met is AroAce and explained, “Oh, I’m Aromantic and Asexual. Here’s what that means, in my experience.” And then Isaac goes and grabs a book called Ace and it’s about Asexuality. So we do need some sort of further clarification about, “Do you identify with both sides of these spectrums or not?”

Courtney: But one thing that was a very, very nice touch, and yet something about it still didn’t land quite right and it took me quite a bit of time to try to figure out what, was that when he grabbed this book, he had these colorful cartoon leaves starting to swirl around him. Which is a thing that we have seen in this show. Occasionally, they’ll have a very stylistic little cartoon animation pop up to emphasize some kind of emotion. And usually that happens — especially in the first season — like, when a new relationship is budding, when Nick and Charlie are having one of their first big moments, these leaves are fluttering. It’s sort of indicating a crush and love or, in Isaac’s case, self-realization.

Courtney: And I saw that and I knew what they were doing. I knew that that was meant to signal that this is just as important as these people finding a relationship: learning that you don’t need it, learning more about yourself, having this self-contained sexuality that doesn’t require another person to be the object of it. Like, this is just as important because we’re giving the same visual cue. So I was like, “I know what you’re doing!”

Courtney: But there’s still something about this that isn’t quite clicking. Not quite. And I think that’s because they gave that little visual cue that I think was indicating, “This is the same and equally important, and we’re trying to emphasize it the same way.” But that’s not how it was actually treated in the script up until this point, as noted by the aforementioned really quickly cutting away from him, not giving Isaac time to sit in his emotions in the same way they’re giving the relationships time to sit in their emotions.

Courtney: And… [sighs] this is a show that is generally erring on positivity and feel-good atmosphere, and so I am trying to meet it where it is there. Because, if I know they’re not going to be lingering on the harder feelings, the negativity, I can still try to compare how one character is treated with another in the context of this show. And in this season, for Nick, he was constantly having to explain that he’s Bisexual. He was frequently experiencing Bi erasure. People would be like, “You’re in a relationship with a guy? I didn’t know you’re gay.” Like, “Oh, he’s gay.” He was constantly like, “I’m Bi, actually. Actually, I’m Bisexual.” Frequently! So that annoyance of that constant erasure in someone not fully understanding you was shown in Nick. Isaac did not have that repetition for any sort of… Like, sure, he may not have fully understood that he’s Ace until the final episode when he grabs that book. That could be the case. But in real life, people who still haven’t found the label yet are still feeling the effects of this, like, compulsory sexuality, the effects of amatonormativity, because it’s so present in society.

Courtney: So, Isaac, seeing all of his friends couple up — and sometimes he is giving a look at them like “I’m the only single one in the room, all my other friends are in relationships with each other.” But he had one outburst. And this is, like, the only time that Isaac has ever really snapped at anybody. Because he was even very measured earlier on when, like, this bully who had been very homophobic previously to Charlie, was just off spouting some nonsense again, and he got paired up with him for… like, to work on a worksheet together or something on this field trip. And he was still very measured, but he was like, “Do you ever think about how that makes other people feel?” [laughs] And I liked seeing Isaac tell this guy off. I was like, “Go, Isaac.” Like, “You don’t talk much, but you sure do stand up for your friends when you need to.” Like, that was good. That was such an empowering moment. And then that bully, like, in the very next scene, with almost no time at all, like, calls out another bully for being homophobic and is like, “Hey, leave him alone.” So I was like, “That was a fast turnaround.”

Royce: Speaking of not lingering on negativity, there was… Of all of the plot lines going through, there were negative plot lines, but they were often resolved very abruptly or diminished very abruptly to focus more on the happy feels.

Courtney: Yes. Because we also… I think we heard it before we saw it. The lesbian couple. One of the girls in this relationship just said, at one point, like, “Oh, I love that Charlie and Nick, you can talk about your feelings with each other, and I can’t do that in my relationship because she always just turns everything into a joke.” And I was like, “Have we seen you try to have a heavy conversation yet that she just turned into a joke?” Like, yeah, we normally see you off being happy and maybe a little joking, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen yet a serious conversation get derailed. But then we later kind of saw it, but we were kind of told first that this is the dynamic, and so some of those lines that we’re being told something before we see it seemed very out of the blue for me, even if it later got justified.

Royce: I think it happened once or twice, but it wasn’t led into as heavily as Charlie’s eating disorder, for example.

Courtney: Yeah, or or Nick constantly needing to explain that he’s Bi. Like, those things had consistent repetition and lead-up. And that could be, like I said, the nature of the fact that they’re now trying to make this show an ensemble cast, more so than the first season, without adding time or episodes, but still trying to give several of the characters their own new hooks, their own new plots. Like, there’s just not enough time to make a lot of those feel really real.

Courtney: And with Isaac, I think this was the worst example of that, where he had his one outburst. He had met this boy who was maybe a crush, maybe a relationship prospect, and has kind of finally realized, “No, I don’t actually feel the way I think I’m supposed to feel about you.” So he goes and kind of has this conversation with this boy. And he comes back.

Courtney: And this group of friends does have the very, very allo habit of, like, trying to play wingman for everybody else. So they’re constantly like, “Oh, these two have a crush on each other, so let’s just find ways to make sure that they get in the same room together alone, and let’s all duck out real fast, and then we’re all going to giggle about it, that we put those two together.” And the thing is, in the context of this show with the feel-good feels, that’s normally shown and justified as a good thing. They didn’t show it as a negative thing in the case of Isaac. And I think if they wanted to drive this case home, they could have. Like, if Isaac had a situation where he was like, “I don’t really feel this way about someone,” and they’re like, “Oh, come on! Let’s just get you two together,” and they were still trying to, like, scheme and play matchmaker, despite objections, or something, that could have driven this home, but it didn’t.

Courtney: Instead, Isaac, of his own volition, started hanging out with this guy more, then had a conversation where “I don’t really know if I feel this way,” then goes back to his group of friends. And they’re all giggling, like, “Tee hee hee, like, tell us what happened,” with the wink-wink nudge-nudge sort of tone of voice that you do when you’re talking about, like, “Oh, you have a crush on somebody.” Then Isaac, seemingly out of the blue to me, just had an outburst at them and basically just said, “I know you don’t find my life interesting unless there’s relationship drama.” And then he walks away and everyone else has a look of like, “Oh, we fucked up.”

Courtney: But here’s where I have an issue with that. In most social settings — they’re having a party, they’re having a sleepover, they’re going to prom — Isaac’s sitting there quietly reading a book. Which is fine. He can do that. I have, at times, been that person too. But he’s not preemptively talking about himself. And what he just said seems to imply that nobody is ever asking him about himself. But I noticed that on more than one occasion, people came up and said, “Yey, Isaac, what are you reading?” And then immediately the camera backs away. So, to me, they did actually show the characters taking an interest in him outside of relationships, but the show didn’t take an interest in him outside of relationships. Does that make sense? It’s like, what are we doing here? It’s like the show doesn’t care about Isaac outside of his sexuality or relationship, but his friends did ask! We just never got the answers.

Courtney: So I think, to drive that point home, they either needed the friends to be more overtly trying to make matchmaker with him specifically, and/or, like, not even have them ask about his books or even have him try to talk about his books to someone, and someone just get really like distracted because their crush shows up and so they’re running off to their relationship and he doesn’t get to answer. Like, we didn’t see any tangible examples of the characters not taking an interest in Isaac. So to me, that outburst felt unjustified.

Courtney: But the real-world component of that is there. Like, real-life Aces, real-life AroAces, are going to recognize that. Because so many of us have been in friend groups where we are all of a sudden now completely left out of everything, because everyone else is coupled up, and that’s so much more important than the friendships, because everyone sees this as a relationship hierarchy. So real-life Aces are going to hear that line and say, “Yeah, I can relate to that.” But I don’t see how that fit in to Isaac’s story based on what we were told and/or shown. Because even before everyone was in relationships, he was still just the guy reading a book in everyone’s presence. So it wasn’t even as if he withdrew further into his books because he felt like people were ignoring him. Like, this has been him.

Royce: Nothing changed. And also, even with everyone coupling up, they were still together a lot of the time.

Courtney: They were. And that’s the thing, too. Because here’s what I mean when I say that Isaac is not yet — and hopefully will become in a third season, but he is not yet a fully realized character. Because what do we know about him? We know that he likes to read. We know that he’s exploring sexuality. And you could also say that he’s a very supportive friend — which is good that he is a very supportive friend, but all the friends are very supportive friends, so that’s almost not even a unique personal identifier in the context of this show. Because the context of the show is “happy queer friend group who all support one another.”

Courtney: And they could have even potentially made him stand out even more as, like, he is the most reliable friend, but they didn’t do that. There was a situation where one of the couple were signed up to help decorate for prom, but only one of the girls showed up. The other girl didn’t. So there’s a problem there, and that was related to, also, trauma that we saw, like, a few seconds of a mom being very homophobic and at least verbally abusive. So we now know that that’s happening; we just didn’t see it very often because that brushed away pretty quickly. But now this girl’s panicking, not only because, you know, something might be wrong with her girlfriend, but also, “I need extra sets of hands. I need help setting up. This is a disaster.”

Courtney: And so she texts the group chat, everyone. So that’s Nick and Charlie, that’s Tao and Elle, that’s Isaac. Texts all of them, says, “Hey, I need help.” The two couples were together at the same time. Like, Nick and Charlie were together when they got that text. Tao and Elle were together when they got that text. Isaac was alone reading in his room. And I almost thought that that could have been a great moment to critique the new relationship haze. Because Charlie did have issues with his grades this season. Like, his schoolwork was falling behind, and his parents chalked it up entirely to this new relationship. So they’re like, “No hanging out with Nick until you catch up on your schoolwork.” And maybe that was part of the new relationship. Maybe it’s also the fact that he’s not nourishing his body and brain appropriately. It could have been a combination of both. That was sort of the only, like, “Here is a downside of falling too hard and heavy into a new relationship and shirking other responsibilities.”

Courtney: I thought this moment, where they’re all getting this text, could have been really a moment for Isaac to really shine and stand out as, like, “I am THE reliable friend,” where, like, he shows up and is like, “Yes, I’m there.” And, like, maybe one of the two couples that got this text — it doesn’t have to be both of them, but at least one of them — maybe they like send a text back and they’re like, “I’m so sorry, I’m busy,” because they just want to hang out with the two of them a little longer. Because that’s a thing that a lot of new couples do. A lot of new teenage couples will actually do that. [laughs] But no, every single one of them shows up. They’re like, “You asked for me. No question. Here we are.” Which is very good and happy for the queer, happy friend group dynamic where everyone supports one another, but not very good for… what is Isaac’s personality outside of reading?

Courtney: Because — and maybe this critique is coming mostly from how well done I think Todd’s line was in BoJack Horseman. Because one of Todd’s defining characteristics is that he is, like, the most supportive friend and he will do anything and everything for someone. He is, like, there. And so I don’t want to try to pull another character I liked and apply another characteristic onto him, but I feel like if it wasn’t that, that could have been two-fold. That could have been, “You’re making Isaac stand out with a new positive personality trait that does stand out from everyone else, but also, you are critiquing that… just the amatonormativity of that new relationship haze.” Which could have further defined what it actually does feel like to be Ace.

Courtney: Because we never really see Isaac… like, Isaac needing a friend and being like, “Yey, I need someone right now,” for whatever reason that is, and the people in relationships just being too busy or distracted to actually do anything. That could have driven that point home. But instead, the only critique of that kind of relationship dynamic that can be detrimental to friendships came in a one-off line of dialogue from a totally unrelated character. What even was that scene? Why did that line come up? Oh, it was when they were playing spin-the-bottle in a hotel room on the school trip.

Courtney: We did get one other good line from Isaac where he was clearly just asked who his celebrity crush was, and he was like, “I don’t have a celebrity crush.” And someone’s like, “Oh, come on, everyone has a celebrity crush!” Which is really funny, because I was also told that everybody has a celebrity crush. But when I was, like, 11, I was like, “Well, I guess everyone has a celebrity crush, so I’m just going to make one up.” And this really should have been everyone’s indication that I don’t genuinely experience these feelings. Because I was dead set for, like, three years from that point on that my celebrity crush was Ringo Starr. And everyone gave me weird looks every time I said that. But I was like, “Well, it’s Ringo Starr. What can I say?” There are only two remaining Beatles left, so I had a 50-50 shot. [laughs] It’s either Paul or Ringo, and I’m going to go with Ringo. [laughs] So, like, that was a good line by Isaac.

Courtney: But then, there was really — again off-handed and kind of contested and not really resolved — someone, without hearing what the actual question is, we hear their answer, that’s like, “Oh well, Imogen got a boyfriend last year and then stopped texting me.” And that’s very recognizable for those of us who have been like, “Yeah, my friend got in a relationship and then just kind of stopped being my friend because that relationship became their only relationship.” That’s a thing that does happen. But then Imogen was like, “No, you stopped texting me!” And then everyone’s like, “What’s the truth?” And then we don’t get a resolution.

Courtney: So, like, I feel like that was meant to maybe be a critique of that, and letting other relationships fall by the wayside when you do get a romantic relationship, but we’re just being told, we aren’t seeing it, and it’s not even in the context of a main character that we’ve been able to care about or identify with yet. So that’s why I wonder why they didn’t find a way to put that social critique into Isaac’s story better. Because, just… I don’t know.

Courtney: The way I anticipate this going, based on how I’ve seen the progression of season one to season two and the way this friend group is designed, I imagine once Isaac does officially come out as Ace, I imagine everyone’s going to be really, really supportive of him. And so I don’t know if they’re going to have anything to retroactively justify his outburst of, “You guys don’t find me interesting unless there’s relationship drama,” because I still didn’t see that. In fact, even when they were at prom and Isaac comes alone and doesn’t have a date, they’re still like, “Come on, let’s all get in here. Friendship group.” Like, yeah, the couples are taking their own photo, but they’re also actively pulling Isaac in and saying, “Hey, take a picture with us, like, the original core group of the four of us friends.” And that was a very cute moment. So it’s like, how are you going to simultaneously show these friends being very good, perfect friends to him and not show him having any negative emotions leading up to this outburst? I don’t get it.

Courtney: So maybe they’ll flesh it out more in season three. But I also don’t know what other people are actually in Isaac’s life where he might have to do sort of like what Nick’s been doing, where he’s constantly having to explain to people, “I’m Ace.” Which would be weird if he doesn’t have to do that, considering how often Ace and Bi people can kind of commiserate on the constant explaining and the constant erasure and the constant “someone’s either going to default you to straight or gay.” So maybe there will be a moment like that where they will be able to draw those parallels in a way that is very accurate to what we see in the real world.

Courtney: But we don’t know anything about Isaac’s family. We don’t really see him talking to other people outside of this main friend group. I don’t know if he’s going to continue exploring anything with this other boy in the grade or if he’s just going to be gone in season three. I don’t know. But I feel like almost every other main character in this ensemble cast, we know something else — either about their family or about new, different friends they’re starting to meet and just how they exist outside of the core friendship group in addition to inside of it. But we really don’t with Isaac, so I’d like to get more. And in fact, I feel like, coming off of season two, I feel like I know more about this brand-new grumpy teacher that they gave us for this season than I do Isaac, who has been here in the background since episode one.

Royce: I think that’s fair.

Courtney: Mr. Farouk. So we have this teacher who has already been established, Nathan. He is gay; we already know this. He wears a little pride pin. It’s very cute. But now we have this new teacher, Youssef, and he is very, very strict. We see him multiple times in a class with Nick and also Charlie’s previous abusive boyfriend, who I think probably got more screen time than he deserved, also. [laughs] But there was this weird rivalry with Nick and abusive ex-boyfriend where they’re, like, constantly put together in a seating chart in school, and they’re just fuming next to each other. This abusive ex who’s, like, weirdly jealous of Nick now for being with Charlie and kind of hinting at the fact that he wants to get back together with Charlie. It was… yeah, it was not my favorite plot point.

Courtney: But we see very strict teacher. And then he signs up to chaperone this field trip, and we see that he does not like to be a chaperone. He’s like, “I need a drink. I need several alcoholic drinks.” And we see him get a little testy with someone at a… like, an employee at a restaurant. So he’s got a little bit of a temper. We’ve kind of already extrapolated that.

Courtney: But then he starts to get this romance plot with the other teacher! And they start pairing up. And now we’re getting to learn more about the teachers. And they’re, like, in Paris, so they’re in another country, they’re in another city, they’re in a hotel room. And so, you know, Nathan, as a teacher — he’s much more lax. He’s not quite as strict. Like, he’ll see kids outside of their room and he’ll be like, “I’ll pretend I didn’t see that.” But, Youssef, he’s like, “Get back to your room now!” But then they’ll have these moments of dialogue where he’s like, “Oh, come on, you could turn the other way and let those two boys have their moment. Like, didn’t you have any moments like that, sneaking off with a boy when you were in high school?” And then it’s like, “Oh, okay, he’s gay, too. I see.”

Courtney: But then he has this very sad, somber line of dialogue where he says, “Well, when you don’t even realize you’re gay until your late 20s, you miss out on all of those, like, queer teenage experiences.” And that’s cute. And that’s giving us, you know, representation for a different kind of coming out story. But it also kind of felt like he was kind of the answer, or insert, for all of the older queer fans of the show last year who, after the show came out, it was either, like, “100 percent. This is happy. This is fluffy. This is queer escapism. We love everything about it. This show is a warm hug.” Or there were some people that were like, “Yeah, it’s so cute, but it makes me sad because I didn’t have that.” And, I don’t know, maybe that didn’t factor into their decision to put it in. I don’t know. But it did kind of feel like they’re just giving a wink and a nod to those people.

Courtney: But now they’re going to give Youssef his moment, because then Nathan says, “Well, there isn’t an age limit on experiences like that!” And then we have — So we already had, quote, “Elder Ace ex machina.” Now we have “deus ex vomita.” Because the kids are having their, like, spin-the-bottle party in a room and they’re all drinking, and…

Royce: Did you just say “God in the vomit”?

Courtney: [laughs] I did. I did say “God in the vomit.” Hey, it fits s-s-sloppily. To put it… because I can’t say… I guess I could say “vomit ex machina.” [laughs] I just thought “deus ex vomita” sounded sillier. [laughs] So, one of the girls gets incredibly drunk. She’s also kind of making everyone else get drunk, because she’s like, “Have a drink!” And she’s like, “Let me fill your cup up to the brim with liquor.”

Royce: She had party host anxiety. It was her girlfriend’s birthday.

Courtney: Yeah, I don’t know. I also think she was dealing with her own stuff and trying to, I don’t know, maybe escape for a bit. But she was definitely, like, playing little alcohol fairy. Like, I’ve been to parties where there’s an alcohol fairy who just, once your glass is nearly empty, someone appears and is like, “Here, I’m not even going to ask you if you want more! Your glass is now full again!” But she was doing that. And she got the most drunk. She got very sick. But here’s — this whole time, she’s like, “Oh my gosh, I think I’m going to be sick,” and she puts her hand over her mouth and she stands up, and I’m like, “Okay, clearly, the reasonable thing to do in this situation is to get her into the bathroom so she can vomit. Maybe if someone wants to be extra supportive, they can, like, hold her hair over the toilet or something.” But no. These teenagers on a school trip decide to run this drunk, about to vomit teenage girl to the teachers’ room. What?

Royce: Like, down the hotel hallway.

Courtney: Yes! And they’re, like, running her and they’re like, “Let’s —” And they get her into the — Why would you bring the drunk teenager to the teachers of the school field trip?

Royce: Why would you leave the room — leave the party room?

Courtney: Why would you do any of these things? And so, as they were like… I was like, “Where are they — they’re at the teachers? Why did they bring her to the teachers?” I thought this was the silliest thing ever. And so now, this drunk girl, who was about to vomit two seconds ago, is sitting on one of the teachers’ beds, and she throws up all over his bed! And that’s when the teachers have to decide. It’s like, “Are we going to report her for getting drunk on this field trip?”

Courtney: And then Youssef has now had this change of heart after he was told that, you know, there are these happy teenage experiences, and maybe it’s not too late for him, maybe he can have his own romantic, rebellious moment too. Then he’s like, “I can’t report her for having food poisoning, now can I? But look, now there’s vomit all over this bed!”

Courtney: And I was like, “That’s why they ran her to the teachers!” Just so she could vomit on their bed, so now the teachers have to share a bed. There is no logic behind the teenagers doing this, except that the plot wanted [laughing] these two teachers to have an external excuse to sleep in the same bed together. [laughs] And the teachers are cute, don’t get me wrong, but that was goofy. That was definitely [laughing] deus ex vomita.

Courtney: I also think I saw another comment that was just like, “Finally, we have male Ace rep.” [laughs] How long are we going to have those comments for every new male Ace that comes out?

Royce: Probably until we get enough representation where individual people have seen more than one instance of Ace rep.

Courtney: Yeah. Because at this point, I really think — in fiction media, I think there are more men than women for Ace rep, both confirmed and coded. Because we’ve got Todd, we’ve got Cash, we’ve got Isaac.

Royce: We have to start counting up all of the bad rep examples.

Courtney: Dexter.

Royce: I think there is a lot of —

Courtney: Sherlock Holmes.

Royce: — overlap of Autistic-coded and Ace-coded characters from early diagnoses of Autism being more prominent in boys. I mean, we talked about Big Bang Theory not too long ago.

Courtney: Yep. Sheldon. Doctor Who.

Royce: That one character in the House episode.

Courtney: That one character from the House episode. To be fair, that was a couple; we had one of each there. Elijah from Big Mouth. So yeah, every time I’m like, “Finally we have an Ace man in media,” I’m like, “The Ace men in media are there. I don’t know why everyone’s ignoring them.” [laughs]

Courtney: So, yeah, I don’t know, we’ll see. I think I would love to see in season three, like, if Isaac is reading his book — whether it’s still Ace as his first book, if it picks right up where it left off, or another Ace book — there are a few other Ace books he could read, both fiction and nonfiction. But, like, we’ve seen Nick — what his Google search results are and, like, what he’s starting to read there. So why can’t we… Maybe there are issues with copyright. I don’t know what the law is there. But like, if they show a page from Ace and show, like, a line pop out about something that really resonated with him or something, I don’t know if there’d be any issues with that or not, so. But, I don’t know, something more to give us what’s going on inside of Isaac, because if he’s not going to tell us, I want you to show us. But this show doesn’t show very much.

Courtney: But just like we said with the first season, like other areas of rep — the Bi rep, the gay rep, the trans rep — like, it’s very, very good. It’s very good. It’s very wholesome. I just want the Ace rep to be treated similarly and to feel just as good and to be as well-rounded.

Courtney: I think my favorite character is still Tori, though, and I would still love to see more of her. She’s so infrequently on screen, but every time she is, I just, I love her. She’s so supportive of her little brother.

Royce: I think “protective” is a better word.

Courtney: Yeah. Well, both. She’s both, right? But yeah, during a scene when she’s having dinner over at Nick’s house and Nick’s father is there, but also his homophobic older brother is there, and his dad — he’s not out to his dad yet. Like, his brother is clearly starting to try to out them on purpose at the dinner table. And Tori, not even knowing this guy, literally grabs his wrist and glares at him and is like, “Don’t you dare.” And I’m like, “Yes, Tori!” [laughs] I love her.

Royce: She also kicks his phone down the stairs right out of his hand.

Courtney: She did do that later, yeah! “If you ever say that about my little brother again, I will end you.” She’s so good. She’s such a good character. And I would have liked to… I don’t know, maybe she’ll get fleshed out more in the future, I don’t know. Or maybe she’s just the background older sister that comes and threatens people occasionally. But it does seem like they’re making an effort to flesh out more characters. Like, even the abusive ex got more screen time and more character progression. Imogen, who was kind of just played for laughs, mostly, in the first season, because she was the one who had the, like, “I’m an ally” line with the really hilarious response of, like, “Thank you for your service” — now she’s kind of becoming part of this friend group too and hanging out with them more and coming into her own more. And it’s like, I don’t know. I want to see more of Tori. More of Tori and more of Isaac. I demand it!

Courtney: So definitely, as we said in our episode of season one, overall, we are definitely not the core demographic for this particular show. There are a lot of good things. There are definitely some things that left us wanting more. So we’re still gonna watch season three when that comes out. It has been renewed for a third season, so I will, once again, be left just hoping, hoping, hoping, hoping that we get more of Isaac’s story, both in the sexuality exploration but also just as a person.

Courtney: So, on that note, thank you all so much for being here with us, and we will talk at you all next time. Goodbye!